Microsoft is gearing up to release Windows 11 this fall, and it will bring the biggest changes to the company’s desktop operating system since Windows 10 was released in 2015. But thanks to new minimum system requirements, not all computers on the market will support the free upgrade, which could make Windows 10 the new Windows XP: an operating system that people continue to run long after Microsoft pushes out its successor.

In fact, there are still millions of people running Windows XP today, a dozen years after mainstream support ended and nearly twenty years after the OS was first launched. Almost exactly twenty years, in fact, because Windows XP turns 20 on August 24, 2021.

I’ve still got this boxed version of Windows XP Home Edition SP2 taking up space in my office for some reason.

That’s the date the operating system was released to manufacturing, although it didn’t actually go on sale until October of that year.

Former Microsoft Project Director for Windows XP Iain McDonald reflected on the anniversary this week, noting that the goal of Windows XP was to bring the stability of the enterprise-focused Windows 2000 to a consumer version of Windows, with a user interface that built upon the ill-received Windows Millennium Edition.

Windows XP was built on the same Windows NT kernel, making it the first version of Windows that was not based on MS-DOS and/or the Windows 95 kernel. I vaguely recall finding the user interface with its big, bold colors, icons, and rounded corners to feel a little silly and cartoonish when it first arrived.

But the operating system was also the most stable version of Windows I had used, by a long shot. Starting with Windows XP, crashes became few and far between. People also had plenty of time to get used to the operating system, since Windows Vista wasn’t released until 2007, and when it arrived its relatively heavy minimum system requirements kept many users from upgrading.

Some users still haven’t done so – according to StatCounter, about 0.59% of Windows computers are still running XP. NetMarketShare puts that figure at 0.32%. Either way, considering the huge number of Windows Installations, both numbers equate to millions of users.

At this point the OS is certainly showing its age. Microsoft hasn’t released feature or security updates for Windows XP in years. Some newer software won’t run on the operating system. And rather than focusing only on high-performance PCs as it did with Windows Vista, Microsoft shifted its focus a bit to ensure that Windows 7 and later could also work with entry-level machines (you can probably thank netbooks for that).

While it’s probably not a good idea to run Windows XP on anything these days, as of a few years ago there were still hundreds of thousands of ATMs that were powered by the OS.

It’s unclear whether Windows 11 will really be the next Windows XP. But not only does it require computers to have a Trusted Platform Module (TPM), which will disqualify many older computers (and some relatively recent models), but changes to the Start Menu and other user interface elements could put off some users.

That said, there are some exciting new features coming to Windows 11 including support for Widgets, new Window snapping behavior, the ability to run Android apps on your PC, and much more.

But I wouldn’t be shocked if, twenty years from now, some folks are still using Windows 10. Heck, there may even still be a few Windows XP holdouts in 2041.

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9 replies on “Windows XP turns 20 (and some people are still running it today)”

  1. I’ll drop the Internet before I’ all drop windows xp.
    Its great for a 32 bit daw.
    The internet is so censored and sticky and filled with spam its virtually useless. Plus I’d rather spend time making music Than what passes for conversation on the web.

  2. I just have it setup for some old games that are very awkward to run on a modern version of windows and only slightly less awkward on your typical linux distro. I’m just using a cheap old i7, couple gigs of ram, old but still great for XP era games Radeon 250 and everything runs a thousand times better and smoother than I could have ever hoped when those games were current gen.

  3. Following the reviews on this site, I bought a One Mix 3 pro. Not being a fan of Windows, I installed Neon Linux on it. However, I needed Windows for a few old apps. So I installed Virtualbox and run WinXP as a Virtualbox guest. It runs amazingly well, because the One Mix 3 has 16 GB of ram. It’s amazing what you can do these days.

  4. I have Windows 8.1 on my Coffee Lake, running with no problem. Don t miss anything from 10. If I do need 10 I just run it from my USB key from t ime to time.

  5. I just ewasted 8 XP desktops that were still in use by a client… so glad to get rid of them!

  6. One thing the linked article completely fails to mention, probably because Microsoft won’t let them say it, is that the new user interface is inefficient to use if you’re on anything but a touchscreen. It’s also computationally inefficient because of how much of it was made out of Edge. It also feels like an insult to people who wanted any customization.
    The thing about the widgets is they’re basically live tiles that go in a separate drawer, and you can’t see any of them without a Microsoft account. Nothing like Windows 7’s desktop gadgets or even android widgets. Or even regular windows that are pinned to a spot on the desktop and drawn below everything else (that might actually be exciting!).
    And speaking of Microsoft accounts, another big turn off that the article fails to mention is you can’t use 11 Home without one.
    And the biggest reason that windows 10 will be used as long as possible, is because…they basically slapped some creepy hardware scanning that looks for things that you really don’t need to not get viruses, more dependencies on chromium edge, and a new coat of paint (that was way uglier than what people speculated), on windows 10, and called it done.

    However I think we’ll all be eventually compelled to drop 10 and earlier if enough popular internet/web services start requiring TPM-based hardware attestation, or if enough popular software uses it for DRM. TPMs seem essential to Microsoft’s plan to trace the history of every image uploaded to the internet and downloaded from it (C2PA), and make it much harder to spread information its ad customers don’t want you to know. If that happens it could wipe out all operating systems that aren’t infested with spyware.
    Alternatively, Microsoft could just flat out BRICK every single windows 10 installation after 2025. By that point I doubt enough people would be able to complain loud enough to make a difference, and many articles will just call anyone who has a problem with that a luddite, among other things.

    1. I run the Windows version that works best with Steam… I will upgrade when my games no longer load. Win 10 was nice in that it accepted Win 7 license codes. I have a few Win 10 license codes from old recycle bin PC cases (I take a photo and then scratch-out the code so no one else uses it).
      Thank god for Linux, dual-boot and the computer recycle bin.

    2. I’d like to just see everyone turn these damn things off and call it good. Personally….THAT is the best solution.

      Advancement and Innovation is NOT always a good thing. Despite the nonsense arguments to the contrary.

      You’re scared of change man….just get with the times dude…you can keep spitting out those platitudes all the way into hell. As they say…the road to hell is paved with good intentions. People NEVER seem to learn this. They gloss right over the meaning without giving it a thought when everyone should be pausing for reflection right here.

      We’re close to going over the edge…

      Just Some Guy too…

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