It’s been eleven years since Microsoft released Windows XP and it’s still the most popular computer operating system in the world.

As of May of this year, 45 percent of all the PCs out there are still running Windows XP; 41 percent run Microsoft’s latest version, Windows 7. The Macintosh operating system is being used by 5 percent of personal computers, which interestingly enough, is almost exactly the same as Apple’s share of the market 30 years ago.

None of this is as strange as it might seem. The latest version of just about anything (think a new car, for example) changes the way you operate it and forces you to think about what you’re doing. For business, change means lost time and productivity until everyone gets up to speed again. Even then, there is the inevitable annoyance and lost time fixing bugs that always appear in new systems. A common rule is never buy anything with a low serial number. Another is the farmer’s mantra: If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. So if your present system does what you want done, what’s the point of changing?

In short, people hold on to what works well. Microsoft’s Vista operating system didn’t, XP did. Windows 7 made some improvements over XP, but not enough to get a majority of users’ attention. If history is any guide at all — and it usually is — people who bought a computer with Windows 7 will probably resist buying Windows 8, which is optimized for touch screen computers. It could take more than a decade for Windows 8 to become dominant.

Probably the only thing that could seriously affect this timetable is the new Microsoft tablet computer called Surface. The Surface hasn’t fully surfaced yet, but this new iPad competitor may dramatically increase the number of Windows 8 users. Unlike the iPad, the Surface has a physical keyboard molded into its hinged cover. If you’ve ever tried to write anything more than a few paragraphs on an iPad, you’ve probably wished you had a good keyboard.

One promising feature of Windows 8 is called BlueStacks. It lets you use the hundreds of thousands of Android apps on your Windows system. Windows 8 is expected to arrive in the fall, but Microsoft is mum as to when the Surface will surface. The website only says “coming soon.”

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