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Unless you’re a channel pro living in a cave, you’ve heard that as of April 8, Microsoft’s "OS that never dies”—Windows XP—no longer receives support, which means it no longer receives security fixes. That doesn’t mean, however, that the wonder OS will have dropped dead, but will continue on for a while as a zombie (in more ways than one) until society and businesses finally put a bullet in the head of each installation.
What really fascinates me is that even today people continue to defend the ancient OS. Just yesterday (well, yesterday when I wrote this) I had a discussion with a “normal” PC user—one who doesn’t know a lot about computers—who heard about XP’s end of life and was confused. After all, her 2007 HP Pavilion desktop still opened her spreadsheets and let her check her email, even if it was slow doing so.
The conversation got me thinking about how Windows XP has been around since the end of 2001. Think about that for a minute—2001! I remember upgrading my Windows 98 desktop to Windows XP in January 2002—back when I was still in college. Since then I’ve finished college, worked three different jobs, gotten married, and had two kids. I’ve also upgraded my computing hardware, as well as moved from XP to newer versions of Windows along the way.
How can it be possible that people actually want to use a computing platform that debuted the same week people actually wanted to listen to Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me”? Not a Nickelback fan? Windows XP launched only a few weeks prior to the very first Lord of the Rings movie and not long after Smallville and the original Fear Factor made their television debuts.
How could XP have lasted this long? There are actually three very good reasons.
First, due to severe security concerns with Windows XP and Service Pack 1, Microsoft had to practically halt development on the OS’s intended successor and completely rethink how the company made software. What resulted was the Secure Computing Initiative, which led Microsoft to develop and release Windows XP Service Pack 2. It contained a huge number of new features and enhancements from the original version of XP. Under normal circumstances, Windows XP SP2 would have been marketed and sold as a new version of Windows.
Second, Service Pack 2 kept XP in the market longer than normal, while XP’s original successor, code-named Longhorn, had to be scrapped and redone from the ground up. As a result, Windows Vista didn’t hit the market until seven years after the original release of XP.
Finally, Vista’s launch didn’t go well. It didn’t run on netbooks (the PC fad at the time), suffered at the hands of the press, and ultimately couldn’t recover from its poor reputation. This kept Windows XP selling well into 2009, and kept volume licensees downgrading PCs to XP even longer.
Oddly enough, Windows XP shows how little the desktop experience has changed over the years while other computing paradigms have evolved.
What is shocking, however, is how much technology has changed since Windows XP first launched. In light of this, I welcome you to take a look at the very latest hardware in popular categories when XP was new.
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