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Windows XP is 9 today

Nine years ago today, Microsoft unleashed the now venerable Windows XP on the world. Debuting in two editions, Home and Professional, the OS came at an interesting time. In the previous 3.5-4 years, Microsoft had released Windows 98, 98 Second Edition, ME and 2000. As the story goes, 2000 was supposed to be the culmination of the DOS and NT lines of Windows, but Microsoft couldn’t quite get it right in time for 2000. With XP, they finally did it.

When it launched, XP was a resource hog, the interface was strange and the activation business upset a lot of people. Software ranged from compatible to unusable. There were the usual cries of “They’ll take Windows 98 from my cold dead hands” and so forth. Immature drivers often caused system crashes and blue screens in the early days, despite the improvements made at the lower levels. Eerie to think that the hoo-haa surrounding Vista years later sounded much the same.

In terms of a security track record, XP has had a pretty dismal run. It’s been the target of just about every piece of malware imaginable. Service Pack 2 brought many much needed improvements, but it still couldn’t truly fix the problem. Of course, this has helped security vendors stay in business. If more people turned on Automatic Updates, the whole computing world would also be a safer place.

Despite all these negative points, XP went on to become the most used OS in the history of the computing world. Due to its age, it became familiar to almost everyone who used a pc. A truly vast software catalogue was built up for the platform, including a huge number of games. By the time Vista arrived on the scene, many people had XP running on their computers like a well tuned and oiled machine. When it broke, people knew how to fix it. It just kept running and running. It’s only in the last year with the introduction of Windows 7 that XP’s market share has started to dip.

I have made it clear in previous blog postings that I no longer care for XP, and using it for me is always a pain. For all that though, I tip my hat off to it reaching 9 years of age. I don’t see it going anywhere anytime just yet, as many people are not going to want to upgrade to Windows 7 or buy a new computer. As long as that massive software library still runs on XP, it’s going to take a long time for the OS to fade away completely. If you think about it, no other OS has reached that age and still remained truly usable. Take a Linux distro from 2001 and try to use it daily. Mac OSX was also in its infancy, although it may still be usable, depending on the software.

Happy Birthday, Windows XP.

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