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Windows XP at 10 years old


I must admit that it is sometimes hard to believe that XP is 10 years old now. In those 10 years, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen its various set up and progress bars, fought with infections, bad Windows Updates, incompatible software and many other things lost to the mists of time.

My first exposure to XP came in in my Grade 10 year at high school – 2001. It was a few weeks after XP came out and someone I knew in the computer room had managed to obtain a copy through a friend – illegally of course. We were all dying to know what XP felt and looked like, so we tested it on a spare computer in that lab. Of course, that’s when we ran head first into issues: The Novell Netware Client we were using didn’t run on XP, the Pegasus Mail version also didn’t run on XP, we couldn’t send and receive email using our crazy dial up modem solution. And of course, despite being based on Windows 2000, XP crashed a lot in those early days. Not nearly as much as ME or 98, but I saw plenty of blue Stop Screens in those early years. Oh, and the whole activation business was also a very new and untested step, with only Office XP before it being a wide spread product that required such a new and drastic step.

Eager to move away from the terrible ME at home, I got a copy of XP and installed it on our family pc. Suffice to say, I ran into the same sorts of issues with blue screens, incompatible drivers and software and just general irritations at how XP did things. In particular, I remember the Nvidia drivers giving a lot of grief, causing many random blue screens. Funny enough, that happened again at Vista’s launch. Food for thought…

Still, once it was coupled with Office XP, Windows XP became the base of my computing career. XP was a brilliant OS, but time has caught up with it. Malware, exploits and lack of features drove me to Vista initially, then Windows 7. These days, using XP is almost painful: no Aero Snapping, no Start Menu search, no DirectX 10/11 for increased visual fidelity and more. Imaging it across a network is painful as you need to maintain multiple images because you can’t make the image easily hardware independent.

Microsoft have been doing their best to get people to move from XP and with good reason – XP is a pretty insecure OS now in 2011. The firewall in XP is incredibly primitive, which requires a 3rd party piece of software to really do the job. All user accounts are created as Administrators on the initial set up screen, even if it’s SP3 integrated. There’s no User Account Control, no ASLR and DEP is primitive. 

I’m not sad to see XP start to fade away to be honest. It’s almost 2012, and while I will always have a fond spot in my heart for XP, it’s time for it to take that well deserved retirement now.

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