Thursday, April 10, 2014

Farewell, Windows XP

Yesterday, if you weren't aware, marks the day Microsoft announced two years ago when it stops providing support for Windows XP. It's no exaggeration to say that Windows XP is the most popular operating system in history, as shown by the fact that almost 30% of computers accessing the Internet last month were running it twelve years after it came out in late 2001. (Not to mention the countless other unconnected computers that are running it. Most ATMs, for example, are still running XP.)

In some ways Microsoft has been the victim of their own success with XP, as shown by the fact that such a significant number of people haven't moved on yet and bought more up-to-date versions of Windows yet. There's another more charitable reason to want people to upgrade; Windows XP was designed long before many of the advanced and dangerous malware threats of today were even conceived of, and while Microsoft has dutifully patched it all these years there comes a point when it's in everyone's best interests to move on. It's a simpler operating system for a simpler time.

Now that Microsoft has pushed its last patch for XP (at least for those who aren't paying exorbitant amounts for an extended service plan such as the British government), any vulnerabilities found in the future will remain un-patched and, well, vulnerable. If any of you out there are reading this on XP, I'd definitely suggest thinking about getting off it quickly. There are a number of good alternative operating systems out there that are much more secure and up-to-date. From personal experience I can say that Windows 7 is much like XP, and if you happen to feel like shaking things up there are any number of free Linux versions to choose from that will work just as well (such as some that I wrote about a few weeks ago).

I'll definitely hold fond memories of Windows XP because that was the operating system of my first computer, but unlike the 30% of the population still running it I moved on years ago (a little over four years ago, to be precise, when I bought my current laptop with Windows 7). Rather than attempting to grasp something that is by nature ephemeral, I look at changing operating systems as an opportunity to change, grow, and try and try something new. At some point in the future I'll need to move on from Windows 7, and you know what? I'm rather looking forward to it.

7 comments:

  1. Windows XP was my first OS as well, although I can't say I miss it. And Windows 8? Forget it. One day, Microsoft will provide Office for Linux distros because they'll finally get it through their thick heads that many people only buy Mac OSX because it supports Office. And then all bets are off.

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    1. Yeah, reports of Windows 8 (to be fair, I haven't actually used it myself) are what pushed me to seriously considering Linux for my next computer.

      I read an interesting interview with one of the developers of Windows 8 who explained the reason behind the whole Metro-Desktop split: it's intended to segregate the power users (roughly, "content producers") from the casual users ("content consumers"). According to him there were various features that didn't make it into previous versions of Windows that power users would have appreciated because they'd be too confusing for casual users, so this split will (supposedly) separate them so that more power-features can be added to the desktop side while leaving the metro side for people to whom their computer is primarily "a way to watch some funny cat videos".

      To date though I've heard many more complaints from power users about Windows 8 than I have from casual users, and as I think I fall more into the former category, I'll eventually be moving to a more power-user-friendly OS.

      I'll be very interested to see what Windows 9 looks like (although I don't think it will change my mind); I suspect there are a good number of people on the fence about whether to switch operating systems waiting as well. If it goes the way of Window 8, I'm predicting a fair number of people are going to jump ship like me; if it returns to be more like XP/7 (though I rate that possibility fairly low), Microsoft might be able to retain much of its customer base. Time will tell, I suppose

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    2. Yes I don't really know where Microsoft is planning on taking Windows, but switching to Linux is really the only way for power users these days. Mac OSX is frankly not very friendly to power users either. I'd be interested to know what distro you choose.

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    3. I'll definitely write something on here when I get around to making/buying a new computer, but right now: recently I've had my eye on Linux Mint as a beginner-friendly distro (I've used Linux for work but not for my main OS, so I'm leery of jumping too far into the deep end). Last week I stumbled upon Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE), which looks quite tempting; I've become accustomed to auto-updating software over the past few years, and the prospect of that idea applied to an entire operating system sounds very promising to me. Not having to reinstall the OS to the latest version every 6 months or whatever sounds good.

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    4. I've heard that Mint is quite good. I've been itching for an excuse to try out Crunchbang (#!) Linux. If you're interested in diving off the deepend, linux-wise, I HIGHLY recommend talking to Njugu about it. He's a Linux wizard.

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  2. I went from Windows 97 in high school (no internet) to Vista on my college laptop. Fun times there. Have you tried Windows 8? I dislike it, but for the mostly superficial, nitpicky reasons of a non-computer person.

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    1. I haven't actually tried Windows 8 yet, so I remain open to the possibility that I would actually like it; but from what I've heard I suspect I wouldn't. Everything I've heard makes it sound like it's not really meant for power user (of which I consider myself one), so I figured it might be time to go free and open source.

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