Windows XP still going strong despite looming end of support deadline

Microsoft may be giving up on Windows XP, but many users don't appear to be ready to do the same.

With less than a week to go until Microsoft officially ends support for Windows XP the number of users sticking with the aging OS is still significant. The latest numbers from NetMarketShare show Windows XP is going strong, powering 27.69 percent of all worldwide PC usage during the month of March.

That's a very small drop from January, when XP actually grew by 0.25 percentage points for 29.23 percent of worlwide PC usage. First introduced in 2001, Windows XP is still the second most popular version of Windows, surpassed only by Windows 7.

Despite its age, XP has managed to stick around thanks to the poor reception of several versions of Windows most notably Windows Vista and Windows 8. As of March, NetMarketShare says Windows 8 and 8.1 combined account for just 11.3 percent of PC usage worldwide--less than half of XP's market share.

Windows XP may be popular with users, but Microsoft is urging people to upgrade to a newer version of Windows, and soon. Microsoft and third-party security companies say the OS is simply no longer secure and cannot meet today's online threats the way Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 can.

April 8 will see the final public release of security patches for Windows XP, but Microsoft will continue updating its XP malware engine for another year. That way XP users can still get active malware protection until July 14, 2015.

Other companies are also hoping to fill the void left by Microsoft with security products such as Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware Premium and WinPatrol. Google is maintaining XP support for the Chrome browser until 2015, and Mozilla plans to continue updating the XP version of Firefox, as well.

While nearly 30 percent of the world's online computer users (Net Market Share measures active usage through Internet hits) are still using XP, Microsoft is looking to the future. On Tuesday, the software maker is kicking off its BUILD 2014 developer conference where the talk is expected to be focused on Windows Phone, cloud services, and a new, desktop-friendly update for Windows 8.1.

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