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The dreaded day has come and gone. June 30th 2008 marked the first milestone in Microsoft’s plan to euthanize our beloved OS. Windows XP leaves us with more of a bang than a whimper, and considerably more street credibility than it afforded at launch. Here at Maximum PC we want to take you down the nostalgic path of Windows XP one last time. A path lovingly paved for us over the years with hundreds of patches and countless upgrades.
Windows XP entered the computer world at the dawn of a new era. The internet would spark a content revolution and its pioneers needed a better tool to shape the brave new world then the beleaguered Windows ME. The XP launch, for those who can remember it, occurred during a very pivotal time in PC history. Windows would be forced to transform from a stand alone platform to the “platform of platforms”. It would enter the homes and offices of hundreds of millions of users and become a household name. Today we champion the OS as a beacon of reliability, but at launch it was almost universally rejected for exactly the opposite reason. To those who can’t remember back that far, Windows XP wasn’t exactly a runaway success out of the gate. Early adopters rejected XP for reasons that very much resemble the current list of generic grievances against Vista. That’s not to say these grievances aren’t justified, early Vista adopters, just as those of the XP era, suffer the relentless growing pains of incompatible hardware, software, and steep system requirements. It’s amazing (but not surprising) that 7 years later we are right back where we started. The simple fact is that XP matured considerably over the years, gaining many of the features that were originally going to be exclusive to the next OS. Many of us took the hotfix’s and features we received for free via Windows update for granted. The sum of these patches actually far exceeded, the benefits users experienced moving from Windows 95, to 98, to 98se, and finally ME. All of these editions of Windows were marketed as unique OS’s and carried a hefty upgrade fee. Is this the type of system Microsoft wants to move us back to?
As members of the Maximum PC community we carry a heavy burden. As key advisors to our technologically challenged brethren our advice influences countless technology purchases and we have successfully scared the average user away from Vista. It would appear over time however; the message has become confused. As Vista continued to improve, our views on the issue have not kept pace. Don’t get me wrong, upgrading older machines never made sense. In reality, Microsoft’s insistence that we all upgrade may have been one the biggest contributions to Vistas luke warm reception. Mainstream users simply didn’t sport the appropriate system requirements, and the new features weren’t compelling enough to upgrade. The enthusiasts crowd on the other hand, while having powerful enough hardware, weren’t willing to take the performance hit or battle early bugs. We can be an unforgiving bunch and bugs tend to get blamed on the operating system more often that not. Vista may not have been perfect, but perhaps companies like Nvidia should share the blame for buggy drivers?
Windows XP has become that old ratty blanket nobody wants to throw out because it’s been with us since the beginning. Each exposed thread and patch represents a fond memory of our place in history as the pioneers of the digital age. It’s not all downhill for XP fans however; even Microsoft lacks the power to kill its own creation. Just like Kenny from South Park, it will live on and reappear on machines for years to come. In fact, users will be receiving patches for the legacy OS well into 2014. To add a bit of contrast to that date, this should be the same period during which we welcome the inevitable successor to Windows 7. So, will you miss Windows XP? Or is the world finally ready to turn the page?