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Windows XP turns 10 in very different world

updated 04:55 pm EDT, Wed August 24, 2011

Windows XP RTM now a decade old

Microsoft passed a milestone Wednesday as Windows XP reached its tenth anniversary. The OS was released to manufacturing on August 24, 2001, two months before it reached stores October 25 that year. It quickly became the most popular Microsoft OS and to date has sold hundreds of millions of copies.

The OS ultimately led to some of Microsoft's biggest missteps in the last decade. A lax attitude towards Internet security in XP resulted in worms like Blaster spreading rapidly enough that, in some cases, it took just a matter of minutes for a 'naked' Windows PC to be infected without doing anything online. Microsoft not only had to significantly rethink XP's security model in Service Pack 2 but ended up reworking much of what became Windows Vista to tighten security.

The move ended up giving Apple a chance to gain share and was compounded when many of Vista's security measures, like User Account Control, quickly became infamous and led to lost sales.

Microsoft didn't end up fully addressing Vista's problems until Windows 7 shipped two years ago and, as a consequence, spurred many to hold off on Vista entirely and to this day hold off on a new release. According to NetApplications data, just under 50 percent of active PCs are still using the 10-year-old OS. Both the reputation and corporate buyers' worries about app compatibility have led to many holding off as long as possible.

At the time XP was released, Microsoft was at the height of its monopoly and had yet to face the full consequences of US and antitrust cases. Policies in the OS that locked out competition in browsers and media players led to $1.4 billion in European fines as well as forced policy changes around the world.

Today, Microsoft is still the dominant force on the desktop, but it has lost enough share that its often-repeated 95 percent share has dropped to under 88 percent. The desktop is also no longer the centerpiece of technology: hundreds of millions of smartphones are expected to ship in 2011. Mobile tablets, though young, have been popular enough to make HP consider quitting PCs when it was the cornerstone of the computer world during XP's heyday.

by MacNN Staff



  1. chas_m



    A toast

    I raise a glass of weak tea to Microsoft Windows XP, the accidental core of the Windows experience. Sure, I never liked it, and sure, the first releases of it were a bug-riddled security nightmare -- but MS eventually got it good enough that today, 50 percent of all PCs -- think about that -- run it today. That would be like half of all Macs running OS 9 today.

    Say what you want about XP, you have to admire its durability (or, perhaps, the resistance/fear of change of its audience). It's a remarkable achievement and -- again, to give credit where it's due -- has provided at least a consistent experience for those users over the last 10 years ... one thing Mac owners will probably never get ... :)

    Comment buried. Show
  1. imNat-imadouche

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Go XP

    More than I can say with the Mac OS

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Two words: XP Mode

    Being "good enough" has worked against Microsoft recently. They tried putting the "Wow" back in computing with Vista. It failed. Corporations said "Wow that sucks" and demanded XP instead.

    Microsoft then patched the biggest failures in Vista and called it Windows 7. Sales mini-bump as corporations that were burned by Vista dumped it and got the Windows 7 patch. But, as chas_m said, many companies kept XP. Because it was still "good enough."

    There's even an "XP Mode" in Windows 7. That pretty much sums it up.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Consumers? They don't know or care.

    I said "corporations" and "companies" demanded XP instead of Vista in the above comment. And I said "companies" patched Vista with the Windows 7 patch after they had been burned.

    So what about the consumer market? Did your parents stand in line to get Vista, then Windows 7? Did your great aunt tweet about how great Windows 7's XP Mode is?

    No? Didn't think so. Consumers such as your great aunt just buy a new PC because the old one's internet broke. Or because it just slowed down too much. Didn't know why, didn't care what version of Windows or Doors or Chimneys came on it, as long as email and browsing worked.

    Can you blame HP for giving up? Nope. Can you blame Microsoft for failing to put the "Wow" back in computing? Yup.

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