A Decade On, Windows XP Is Still the World's Most-Used Desktop OS

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Windows XP first went on sale ten years ago today. In that span, it has become the desktop OS of choice with a worldwide install base of as much as 80 percent. Here's looking at you XP.


XP was originally scheduled for a massive roll-out on October 25th, 2001, however the 9/11 attacks put a severe damper on its release—slumping into the market with lower initial sales than even Windows 98's release three years prior. Slow adoption by users due to its direct competition with much-lauded Win2000 as well as XP's increased resource demands and initial driver incompatibilities didn't help win it any fans either. It wasn't until desktop hardware performance eventually caught up did XP really take off.

Once it did become established, XP surpassed all other desktop OS systems for longetvity. For years, especially after Service Pack 2 released, XP was the be all, end all of PC operating systems—you were a sucker not to use it. Two factors have directly affected that tenure: The explosion of Internet usage and Microsoft's lack of an heir. The incredible growth of the World Wide Web in the first few years of this century effectively killed off earlier, morfe-entrenched variations like Win95, 98that simply couldn't handle the hardware and security requirements needed to run in a rapidly connecting world. The lack of a follow-up OS played an even bigger role. With no bigger and better OS to look forward to, XP was, by default, the best a PC user could do. Rumblings of the secrect Longhorn project ended coming to naught when Microsoft canned the project and Vista, well...was Vista.

Heck, 52 percent of the desktop PC market still runs XP, however, its doubtful the world will ever see an OS not only stick around for a decade, but remain relevant for that long. Now, even Microsoft is trying to trim its turn-around time between major OS releases to just 2-3 years, a la Apple. Sure, Windows 7 might hit 50 percent market share before Windows 8 drops, but in ten years, it'll be about as relevant as Windows 95 in 2005. [Ars Technica]

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This should be a huge clue to Microsoft and other software vendors. People DON'T like change - especially the massive, gut-wrenching changes we have seen so far with the desktop and Win8.

If it works, people will just keep using it. And, people will not stop using XP until Microsoft stops supporting it and hackers start breaking in with some sort of regularity. There has to be less pain in making the switch than there is in staying put - or people don't budge.

And, who can blame them? It's not like Microsoft just upgrades what you already know and at least are used to using.

No...Microsoft must move everything you are familiar with to new menus - and they must rename it all, even if it is the same thing you have used for years. Renaming something and moving it to a new menu (or, God forbid, a chromeless browser interface) must mean it is worth the price of an entire new OS, right?

Some of those changes should get someone at Microsoft fired. I mean "charms", really!? What the hell was so awful about "icons"? Oh....that's right...you had to move them and rename them...like when you moved the notifications bar from the top of the browser in IE8 to the bottom in IE9.

Just what the $@$%$# was that supposed to accomplish anyway? Most of the time the user's mouse is on the scroll bar or at the top of the browser. Placing an irritating pop-up at the bottom of the browser was just plain stupid.

Unless Win8 gets rid of that God-awful Metro UI on the desktop, you'll see people hang onto XP and Win7 for dear life. People (especially people in corporations - you know, the ones that pay for most of Microsoft's legitimate copies) don't get paid to learn new software. Retraining employees COSTS them money - and that's on top of the money they are paying per license to Microsoft.

HINT for Microsoft: COMPANIES LIKE TO MAKE MONEY - NOT WASTE IT ON FINDING THE CRAP THAT YOU HIDE IN EACH "NEW" OS. For most of your customers, business is not an easter egg hunt.

If those Occupy Seattle people want to do any good, perhaps they should move the protest to Redmond and sit in on Microsoft's campus for a while. They should refuse to leave until Metro is gone from Win8 desktops, "charms" are once again icons and everything carried forward from Win7 is still on the same damned menus as it was in Win7 and named the same damned thing.