Tomorrow is the last day a new computer will be shipped with Microsoft’s XP operating system. Even though Microsoft will officially stop shipping and eventually stop supporting XP, I believe XP really stood the test of time. That is actually a positive review given my history with Windows. I first started using Windows with the 2nd version in late 1987 or early 1988. I believe it was known as Windows 2 at that time. I recall not being too impressed at first, but back then its use, and the use of the PC in general was quite limited. With the release of Windows 3.0, I remember being quite excited that personal computing was really going to change in a big way. I proved to be an impatient customer, complaining non-stop for several years as Microsoft worked its way through 3.1, NT, and then Windows 95. I felt that if the Microsoft operating system had been an automobile, it would have failed because of the consumer protection of Lemon Laws. As it was, we were stuck with Windows and all its bugs and frustrations. Freeze-ups, Blue Screens of Death, and so on were the norm for the day. Nothing much improved with the release over the years of Windows 98. I skipped even using 2000 and ME, and began thinking about trying to figure out the use of a non-Microsoft OS. Then came XP.
I really feel XP saved Microsoft and made the personal computer a household fixture. There were still issues with things like registry clutter and the like, and XP sometimes had to be wiped and re-installed to restore fast, clean functionality. With the release of XP Service Pack 2, many of those issues got much better. Over the last few years XP has been rock solid on all my computers and for that I was eternally grateful. Why? Well because of Microsoft’s next Windows release called Vista.
Vista was trouble from the start. My introduction to it came when it was installed on one of my new computers. I tried for weeks to use it before I came to the conclusion that it was simply a dud. Nothing about Vista made me want to use it. I uninstalled Vista and installed XP and for several years thanked my lucky stars that XP was allowing me to avoid the computer disease known as Vista. When someone would ask about getting a new computer, I would tell them that whatever else they decided on; they absolutely had to have XP, rather than Vista as their operating system. I did not follow Microsoft’s fortunes with Vista, but I suppose since it came on almost all new computers from 2007 to 2010, I guess it made money for them.
I knew XP could not last forever, so when Microsoft released a beta version of Windows 7 in late 2009, I signed on to try it on one computer. At first there were problems and I worried that Microsoft was not going to do any better than they did with the release of Vista. I stopped using the beta and went back to my trusted XP on all my computers. A few friends, much more technically expert than me convinced me to try it again later in the development cycle and I never looked back. As soon as the official release came out, I purchased and installed it on my main computer. Now it is on two of my computers and XP runs only on my oldest 3 machines that don’t get used much these days.
Windows 7 is a winner, no doubt about it but I will miss XP. I feel XP was a trusted old friend that wisely counseled me to avoid a relationship with Vista. For that I say thanks, and sleep well.