Another Win XP Holdout

August 6, 2012

Back in late July, I posted a note about the transition that is approaching for the many people who are still using Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system, first introduced in September, 2001.   According to Microsoft’s current timetable, Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (the only configuration now supported) will cease to receive bug fixes or security patches as of April 8, 2014.    So, as I outlined in that earlier post, folks still using XP have some work to do.

One of today’s major news stories is the successful (at least so far) landing of NASA’s Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars.  A press briefing about the landing provided another, presumably unintentional,  example of Windows XP’s continued use, as reported in a story on the Wired “Enterprise Blog”.

… the Windows XP startup screen flashed in the background behind the scientists as they congratulated each other on the successful mission early Monday morning. Like so much of the world, NASA is still using a Microsoft OS that debuted more than a decade ago.

The spacecraft itself does not use Windows, XP or otherwise, but a real-time OS called VxWorks from Wind River, a subsidiary of Intel.

Still, as the Wired article suggests, perhaps NASA could consider moving on from Win XP.

We think that NASA has earned it. If flawlessly landing a one-ton nuclear-powered exploration machine 352 million miles from Earth doesn’t qualify you for an OS upgrade, we don’t know what does.

Maybe Microsoft has some goodies left over from the Windows 7 launch parties that they could throw in to sweeten the pot.

All kidding aside, NASA deserves congratulations for getting Curiosity to Mars.  I hope things continue to go well; there is the prospect of some really interesting science.

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