Third, there are plenty of organizations out there with what may seem to you to be seriously antiquated systems that, in fact, still do a perfectly good job. They have smaller disk drives as well as slower processors and less memory so they are, in comparison to your power-sucking mongo desktops, feeding from the electrical sippy-cup. Not only that but their cost was fully amortized years ago and there aren't a ton of surprises in keeping them up and running.
In contrast, there you are with all of those new, sexy viruses you fight with monotonous regularity which are mostly a non-issue to the users of the dinosaurs. Moreover, these old skool users can get the job done without having to learn whatever brand new user interface nightmare Microsoft now thinks is the light, the truth and the way.
So, my point is that there's a place, and a rational one at that, for old gear, whether it's computers or cars. For example, do you know what the most environmentally conscious car choice is? A Toyota Prius? Nope. A Nissan Leaf? Nope. The answer is a 1955 small block Chevy. Why? 'Cause it's carbon footprint was paid off years ago. It doesn't require environmentally toxic batteries. It can be easily recycled. It wasn't shipped across 6,000 miles of the Pacific to get here.
You get the point? Sometimes you have to add up the total life cost rather than look at the immediate costs if you want the real economic picture.
So, what will happen to those Windows XP and Office 2003 users when 2014 rolls around? While some consumers and a few businesses will try to hang on, the lack of support will encourage most people to migrate to the new hotness of Windows 8 and Office 2012 and pay the unavoidably steep price.
This got me to wondering whether there's a good argument for keeping these products alive. Given the huge investment by consumers and businesses, is it reasonable to pull the rug out from underneath them when there's no real reason to do so other than Microsoft's commercial self-interest?
Perhaps Microsoft should turn these products loose, make them open source and leave the care and maintenance of them to people who care enough to do so. You know that instantly projects would emerge to work on core maintenance and then distros as wildly varied as those you find with Linux would spring up and a whole new ecosystem of computing would emerge.
I think there's also an ethical issue here for Microsoft: Millions of people made investments in those products that goes far beyond what they actually paid Microsoft. Those investments involved the integration of the products with their lives, their businesses, their projects and their hobbies. They essentially acquired a new language and a new way of thinking when they picked Windows XP and Office 2003, and now Microsoft is saying they have to learn a whole new language or find themselves out in the weeds.