Windows XP Start Menu

Ten years ago today Microsoft released Windows XP. And around the world, millions of people are still running the aging operating system on desktop, laptop, and tablet computers even though Microsoft stopped selling Windows XP directly to consumers a few years ago.

You could probably make a case that Windows XP changed the way we think about operating systems. Or maybe it was Windows Vista that did it. But up until Windows XP, most users were sick and tired of the operating system on their computers by the time a major update came out.

I don’t know about you, but I gleefully updated from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 and from Windows 95 to Windows 98. Every step along the way, I marveled at how much faster my computer seemed and how much less frequently it froze or crashed.

Then along came Windows XP… at first I was turned off by the cartoonish graphics used for the Start Menu. But once I figured out how to enable the classic desktop, I was in heaven — and my computer could run for days or even weeks on end without crashing.

And you know what? That’s really all that most people want. Which is why, 10 years later Microsoft is still trying to convince people to upgrade to Windows 7 for the better security features, improved integration with cloud services, better media support, and other features.

Part of the blame probably falls on the fact that Microsoft took 5 years to get Windows Vista out the door… and part of the blame certainly lies on the fact that Vista was a mess at launch. If your computer didn’t have a fast enough processor or enough storage space or RAM, Vista offered a terrible user experience in exchange for a little eye candy.

Since netbooks came along during the Vista era, Microsoft was forced to offer low cost Windows XP licenses to netbook makers or risk losing dominance of the ultraportable notebook space to Linux-based computers such as the original Asus Eee PC or HP Mini netbooks.

Microsoft followed Vista with Windows 7, an operating system that runs quite nicely on netbooks or supercomputers. But by the time it was released, many folks had bee using Windows XP for nearly 8 years. And it was still meeting their needs.

So here we are, 10 years later and Microsoft is dealing with the fact that the company actually released an operating system that’s good enough that many people would never bother to pay for a new version if they didn’t have to — and they only do have to because Microsoft has discontinued XP and in 2014 the company will discontinue support for the operating system as well.

Windows XP

Most computers sold to consumers today come with Windows 7, and sometime next year they’ll ship with Windows 8 instead. And corporate customers, who are much slower to upgrade are finally starting to leave Windows XP behind. But XP was probably the OS that changed our conception of how long an operating system should, and could be useful for.

Maybe that’s why Canonical recently announced that it would support Ubuntu 12.04 LTS for 5 years after it’s released next April.

And maybe it’s why Microsoft’s attempts to convince people to give up Windows XP  look a little desperate.

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6 replies on “Windows XP turns 10, still refuses to die”

  1. XP is simply well written and for the most part reliable. Microsoft cannot seem to get their head around the fact that they produced a good product that still works. Ask yourself do you really want all of the things Windows 8 offers and how often will you use them. Chances are that you won’t. Why do we actually need 347 ways of doing the same thing. The only reason they keep releasing new versions of their operating systems is too keep the shareholders happy as they are the ones who want to see something for their investment in the company.

    I still use XP but also have a Win7 and Ubuntu machine. When we sell an Windows 8 machine we almost always put Stardock’s “Start 8” on it to make it look and feel like Windows 7 – Microsoft are frankly in a bit of a mess trying far to late to capture the tablet market.

    They should have left Windows 7 on desktop machines and developed Windows 8 purely for tablets. windows 8 is ONLY great if you have a touchscreen. For traditional users, that’s most of us, it is a right pain in the proverbial.

    Also notice how they have also removed all of the repair tools in Windows 7 and Windows 8 too. What is the point in that ?

    We have Windows 8 repair disks here

  2. windows xp…i actually went away from windows 7 on two of my computers for windows xp. it is simply gods gift to mankind lol.

  3. I should point out that even an inexpensive Atom N455 Netbook runs Windows 7 really quickly.  Considering that a $250 computer runs something newer than XP, XP only makes sense, say, for ancient hardware that isn’t Windows 7 compatible (or for IE6 cross-browser testing, but that can be run in a Virtual machine, even on a netbook)

    Some hints: Remove whatever antivirus comes with the computer and replace it with Microsoft Security Essentials.  Remove other bloatware.  Increase the memory to 2gb (4gb if possible [1]) for $20 [2].  Use a faster browser than Internet Explorer, such as Firefox 7 or Google Chrome.

    [1] A 4gb expansion is only possible if using an AMD C-50, E-350, Intel’s up-and-coming N2800 Atom, or another chip that supports that much memory.  4gb also requires upgrading from Windows 7 starter.

    [2] Acer netbooks often times require disassembling the computer to increase its memory.  Asus and Lenovo netbooks usually only require removing a single panel from the bottom.

  4. My advice?  If you need Windows XP for some legacy applications, then simply run it in Virtualbox after you install Ubuntu or another Linux variant that runs nicely on older hardware (Lubuntu is perfect; It screams on my Dell Mini9).  That way, you run an advanced, updated operating system while still keeping your access to XP…trust me, your computer will thank you.

  5. you try running Windows 7 on a 1.3ghz Pentium 3 Processor with 256mb of ram, can’t be done.

  6. I am still running XP! Super, less memory consumption than Vista or W7. For less powerful computers is still a better option!

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