With support for Windows XP ending today, an essay in the Michigan Law Review contends that Microsoft should make the code for the operating system available in such a way that third-party software companies could continue to patch security holes and provide ongoing support for the 12-year-old PC operating system.

xpThe essay by Andrew Tutt, a visiting fellow at the Yale University Information Society Project, sketches out the legal issues surrounding the discontinuation of support for the operating system. Windows XP used by some 27 percent of personal computers, in addition to running many commercial application such as bank ATMs.

Tutt writes, “Under the leading understanding of existing antitrust doctrine, if Windows XP were real property—a photocopier, for example—the law would obligate Microsoft to help other companies create an aftermarket for Windows XP support.”

However, because Windows XP is intellectual property, he writes, the same rules don’t apply. Tutt concludes:

This is a terrible conundrum, one that cries out for a legislative solution. Make no mistake: Microsoft’s decision to end support for Windows XP could be one of the most consequential decisions made by any major institution this year. Society will soon need to rethink many old notions like property, competition, and innovation in a world where networked computers store individuals’ most important and intimate personal information.

Until the law catches up, however, it will fall to Microsoft alone to make the right decision. The company should extend the support clock, release its source code, or make clear to the world that if anyone else endeavors to provide future security support for Windows XP, Microsoft will help them do so.

Microsoft, which in advance of the cutoff offered promotions and incentives to get people to upgrade to new PCs, hasn’t done much in the way of fanfare on the final day of support. More information is available from the company here, and you can see our earlier post for some of your options if you’re still running Windows XP.

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  • Bryan

    What a great start as a Lawyer.
    I am sure he will have many productive($), litigious($) time wasting years ahead of him!! If only the law was as productive for people and companies that have been screwed by these people.

  • kierepka

    Open source “NT like” system is #ReactOS

    • John

      ReactOS is nowhere near ready for primetime. It will only run on a VM and how many people have that? I have a VMWare server sitting in my house so I can do it, but I have never been able to get it to install on a physical machine. In reality ReactOS is a good concept but I would never ask my wife or mother to even try it. They’d pull their hair out.

      • chris

        ReactOS is a dud. Twenty years, still nothing. We would all be dead by the time it’s ready.

  • swissfritz

    This guy is completely in his mind, exclusively!

  • AMark

    Here’s something interesting.. For the first time ever I find myself
    seriously looking at alternative OS’s.. And what if I find one?

    For years a large part of Microsoft’s market share has been based on the fact that it is everywhere.

    I guess they assume people will just follow them. But I’m not so sure..
    of these old PC are still working… A new OS and they could be resold
    2nd hand.. In fact they have now opened a gap in the market for another
    OS for people to get used to.

    And if it worked for Microsoft then why wouldn’t it work for anyone else?
    Ironically without this move from Microsoft there may not have been this gap in the market in the first place!

    A questionable strategy!

  • Greg Colborne

    Opening windows XP
    Is like demanding warranty for you car for longer then 10 years
    Microsoft has gone above and beyond every company
    Give up XP
    Also the world is in a global depression, get out your pocket books and upgrade you cheap buggers

    • Carlos Osuna

      Greg… this is not guarantee… this is not a used car… people are installing Windows XP in new machines… they don’t want more.

      The sad part is that XP became the defacto standard, like the Edison screw, the RCA plug, the NEMA plug. The people who use this standards know that there’s high voltage plugs (for spotlights), TOS link and HDMI and wireless charging, but all those aren’t as convenient as the old standard, as you can see from LED fixtures using Edison screws.

      Just like Kodak which tried to repackaged their old technology in a new format (Advantix) and couldn’t convince people to use it, so is Microsoft trying to push people “forward” when they don’t want to go anywhere.

    • Fragarach

      More like, after the warranty expires, having the ability get my car fixed someplace other than at the dealership.

    • Alex

      While it may not make sense to have a warranty for over 10 years, there are many XP computers that were sold new considerably less than 10 years ago. Sure, the OS was first sold 13 years ago, but it was still possible to buy XP computers in mainstream stores up until around 2008, which was only six years ago. For that matter, it is still possible to buy new very high-end XP computers today, although as far as I know they are only available at a few specialty vendors. If someone bought a new XP computer within the last couple years, wouldn’t it make sense that they would have a warranty for at least as long as the people who bought their computers in 2001?

  • TheZip

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Microsoft cheerleader. They do make some good stuff, and some really bad stuff, and none of it is cheap. But for someone to suggest they open source XP is ludicrous. Microsoft has supported XP for many more years than Apple ever supported an operating and Apple never open sourced anything.

    It should bring pause to many just for the fact XP is still being used in things like ATM machines. It is also used in many of the terminals in places like restaurants and retail outlets. Releasing the source code to the wild for a system with such old security standards is really opening them up to more hackers. These machines should be safeguarding my finances so need to be upgraded, not made an opens source OS.

    It is only very, very recently Microsoft released the source for DOS. That is intellectually interesting to see how Microsoft did things in the 80’s. Some technology in XP is obviously rolled into Vista, 7 and maybe 8. Why would a company release that?

  • Carlos Osuna

    I think Satya knows Microsoft will lose more than anybody else with this stubbornness. But he can’t go against something called out by Ballmer’s bullish (or bullshit) idea that newer is always better.

    Microsoft is trying to sell BluRay players (Win8) for people who want to play CDs (WinXP). When people don’t get what they want, they switch to a simpler idea (iPod, MP3, etc.)

  • Richard

    I think Third Party makes a lot of sense. Huge. Millions to be made. What is so distressful with XP is it makes all these computers obsolete — while they still work fine. I have one. I am really concerned and frustrated.

  • chris

    Great ideal. XP open source would make the Linux fanboys worry.

  • http://batman-news.com XP user

    Microsoft releasing the source for XP seems a tad unrealistic somehow. They may have abandoned their XP users, but it appears that others are willing to try and fill the void. Example – http://xphelp.info

  • Threefeet

    Just another XP holdout, except Mr. Tutt is legitimising his views via legalese.

    I wonder does he hold any actual hope of MS making “the right decision”, or is this just an exercise?

  • Michael Crab

    To make WinXP an open source software would be a liberal move, but Microsoft is rather conservative. The company has the legal right, of course, to discontinue the product. The action would only be of solidarity if the company would consider the consumers perspective instead of demanding upgrades like they’re doing now, i.e., the lucrative way of thinking. Let’s hope they change their mind, though hope can be frail it springs eternally. : )

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