The End of XP

Steve Jones, 2019-04-13

This week we have the end of Windows XP. At least, we have the end of support, which means the lifespan of the OS was over 17 years. That’s a long time. It’s longer than I’ve run any system without an upgrade. I have some Windows 7 systems I use at times, but that’s a mere 10 years old. I know there are still a few SQL 2000 systems out there, which is older than XP, and likely a few of them are running on Windows 2000 in a VM somewhere.
I have to admit that I liked Windows XP and thought it was a nice upgrade from previous versions. I ran it for a long time, skipping Vista, before moving to Windows 7 when it was released. Most of the early days of SQLServerCentral were run from an XP workstation, with SQL Server personal and lots of text editors helping me manage the site. I’m somewhat sad that it’s gone, though I think Win7, and now Win10 were very nice improvements.
XP isn’t likely gone, as some companies will continue to run it and I expect some ATMs, some kiosk displays, and other embedded applications will show that XP start screen on occasion. That’s not unlike the way that some of us might connect to an SQL instance and be surprised to see a single digit number in the major version space. In fact, a lot of you might still see a “9”, for SQL Server 2008. I was seeing that until last year when we moved SQLServerCentral to SQL Sever 2017. I expect the more and more organizations will be slowly moving on, perhaps reluctant to upgrade those old versions that work and don’t cost much to maintain.
Or do they? Is there a big cost on older systems that run and don’t see regular development work? My thought has been that for many internal systems, I need a database platform, and likely an OS, to run for 10 years or more. I know some of the larger enterprises have this view as well. Picking a platform is a major decision and it can be very hard to change directions. Porting takes a lot of resources, as do upgrades, so ensuring a system can handle a load for 10 years makes sense.
I know many of us would like to regularly switch versions, and one of the great things about my job is that I get to do so. I’ve held onto SQL 2014 and 2016, but I’m slowly moving all my work to SQL Server 2017 and 2019, with the idea that apart from some repro situations, I won’t try to run older versions anymore.
It seems many people are town about upgrades. Some people prefer the system they know and are comfortable with, since they know what workarounds are needed. They may bemoan the need to learn new skills and change old habits. Others prefer the latest and greatest, quickly adopting new platforms and agonizing over the spend on old systems. No matter which way you feel, it’s likely that you’ll be forced to do a bit of both as the pace of change for SQL Server means many of us will adopt new versions for new work and end up supporting 4 or 5 versions at any one time.

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