August 26, 2011

Windows XP Celebrates 10th Anniversary


Software giant Microsoft quietly celebrated the 10th birthday of its Windows XP software this week, which was officially released on August 24, 2001.

Short for “eXPerience,” XP was the first consumer-oriented OS built on the Windows NT kernel. The OS had a long run despite a rocky launch. Even with two subsequent releases, the dreaded Windows Vista and the much-improved Windows 7, XP remains widely popular, still running on roughly half of the world´s PCs.

Even though Microsoft observes the release date of Aug 24, 2001 as the software´s official birthday, the product never hit retail stores until October 2001.

One analyst questioned whether it was the right date to celebrate its anniversary.

“The Windows XP that people loved wasn't [the original 2001] XP, it was XP SP2,” Michael Cherry, an analyst with research firm Directions on Microsoft, told Gregg Keizer Of Computer World.

Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) shipped three years later, in August 2004.

A possible key reason XP was so popular when it was released, was due to a group by the name of devils0wn that released a volume license key to bypass product activation, allowing for potentially million of users to install the OS without paying for it.

OEM and retail sales of XP were halted in June 2008, although Microsoft continued to offer the OS to system builders through early 2009. Support will be offered for system running SP3 through April 8, 2014.

Computers running Windows XP OS finally dropped below the 50 percent mark last month. The decline is partially due to the equally rapid success of Windows 7, which now accounts for nearly 30 percent of the market.

Microsoft has been urging customers to upgrade from XP since Vista was launched in 2006 and then again when 7 debuted in 2009.

Antivirus software provider Avast said XP is home to nearly three-quarters of their customers´ rootkit infections.

Microsoft said that it is not celebrating the anniversary of the release of XP, and its predecessor Windows 95, which was released 16 years ago this month.

Last month Microsoft told its customers it was “time to move on” from XP, noting that it had less than three years left in its support lifespan. And executives on the Internet Explorer team said XP OS would not run the new IE9 or any future installments of the browser.

“I've been telling [clients] to move to Windows 7,” said Cherry, adding that the newer OS was suitably stable to replace the long-running XP.

Cherry told Computer World that Windows 7 is a safe bet, even though Microsoft is working on the latest successor, Windows 8, which analysts believe will be available sometime in 2013.

If Windows 8 is solid, then moving to it from 7, rather than from XP, should be easy, since Microsoft has assured customers that any PC able to run 7 will also be able to run 8. But if Windows 8 is flawed, then 7 will become the safety net that XP served for Vista, which was widely rejected by computer users.

Cherry continued to express concern about Window 8, however.

“It looks like they're changing a lot in Windows 8,” he said, noting that Microsoft has been disclosing tidbits of information on the new OS since earlier this summer.

A large number of the changes in Windows 8 could increase the risk that something may go wrong, either during development -- which would cause upgrade and launch delays -- or after it ships to stores, repeating the headache the company felt with Vista, after many customers complained about device driver compatibility.


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