Over in Los Angeles, there are thousands of Microsoft partners gathered together for the Microsoft World Partner Conference (you can follow along on the DigitalWPC website). The big events like this often produce new product announcements, but what has caught me eye is an announcement linked to both old and new products.

400 million copies of Windows 7, and counting

Tami Reller, who is the Corporate Vice President of the Windows business, said some interesting things, and made a few announcements on new things during her keynote. The announcement that I noticed was that customers have now bought 400 million copies of Windows 7 - which means it’s being adopted at three times the pace of Windows XP. And that was linked to the stat that 27% of the Internet runs Windows 7. [That’s all in this transcript] And Tami told stories of customers who’d committed to moving their users to the latest version of Windows (including General Motors, Ford, Dow Chemical and San Diego school district). All good so far.

Two thirds of business PC are still on Windows XP

Windows XP logoThe shock came when Tami said that today, the problem is that two-thirds of PCs are still on Windows XP (despite the cost savings possible with Windows 7 and the fact that there’s only a thousand days to end of life for Windows XP).

I know that it’s not quite as bad as that in Australian education customers, but there’s still a sizeable proportion of computers in schools, TAFEs and universities that are running Windows XP. Whilst I know that some staff will like this (after all, they have a reputation for resisting change), it does mean that students are probably getting the worst deal.

97% of students have their own PC at home - and the overwhelming majority will be running Windows 7 on it.

And then they come into the classroom. And they are expected to use a computer running Windows XP - an operating system that was launched in 2001. And that doesn’t do any of the cool, media savvy things that they can do on their home computer.

What’s my point?

Students are used to living, working, collaborating and communicating in a digital age. And if we want them to be engaged in the classroom, then perhaps asking them to turn their clocks back ten years when they switch on a computer isn’t fair, and isn’t going to engage them.

So, to put it into perspective, here’s ten things that your students have never lived without - and which didn’t even exist when we launched Windows XP…

Ten things that didn’t exist when Windows XP was launched in October 2001

  1. The iPod (came along in November 2001)
  2. Xbox (also November 2001)
  3. iTunes for Windows (that didn’t arrive until April 2003, nearly two years after the iPod)
  4. 3G phones (didn’t arrive in Australia until April 2003 either)
  5. LinkedIn (that wasn’t invented until May 2003)
  6. Skype (August 2003)
  7. Facebook (that arrived in February of 2004)
  8. Xbox 360 (ie the connected one. That arrived in May 2005)
  9. Video chat as part of MSN Messenger (came along in August 2005)
  10. Video chat in Skype (even later, January 2006)