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Microsoft ends Windows XP support: A timeline of Windows XP’s 13-year journey

One of the world’s most beloved computer operating systems will no longer see worldwide official support. After launching in 2001, Microsoft is finally pulling the plug on Windows XP, the OS that was the first for many in the world. The rolling grassy hills under a quintessentially blue sky (incidentally a photo of the Napa Valley) greeted millions around the world as they first put on a PC. So it’s no surprise that even now plenty of computers use it – both out of necessity, like ATMs, which have not changed their OS since they came on the scene, or out of sheer familiarity, like that one uncle who has never wanted to upgrade. It’s been a long run, so let’s look at some of the milestones.

Neptune to Whistler
Microsoft began working on Windows XP in the latter half of the 1990s. It was named Neptune then and was built on the Windows NT Kernel, which was mainly used in consumer PCs. Microsoft had wanted to build two different OSes, based on different needs of consumers and businesses, both based on Windows 2000 that preceded. But in a move that has shaped the future of Windows, it decided to use just one OS which would serve both types of customers. Codenamed Whistler, this is what we know as XP.

In April 2000, Microsoft formally showed an early build of Whistler, which showed some of the new features, such as user switching, native CD burning support, digital media features in Windows Media Player and of course that familiar Start Menu, but in a completely revamped avatar.

Brand XP
In February 2001, the company made the Windows XP name official. The XP as many would have guessed stands for experience, which, Microsoft would like us to believe, is what they were delivering. But it rolled off the tongue so well and had a catchy sound. It was a name that was destined to be liked. It was loved so much by Microsoft that it carried the name to Microsoft Office as well, naming it Office XP for this specific release. XP would be released in different versions – Home and Professional – with slightly different elements according to the needs they met.

Starting XP
When clicked, the Start Menu on XP threw up a newer launchpad for all your software and applications. Firstly, it featured a mysterious two-column layout, and you could ‘pin’ apps that you wanted on one column and the other greatly eased what settings and parts of the computer one wanted to access. The Start Menu is so second nature to most users that Windows 8 became the subject of ire for dropping it. Now that it’s back with the latest update to the OS, Microsoft is paying XP a tribute as it leaves official support.
The new look Windows and the choice of themes
The new look Windows and the choice of themes
The Start Menu was not the only change cosmetically speaking; the taskbar looked new, colourful and shiny, even though there was a plain and boring (some would say grown-up) option for the office crowd. It made people realise that computers can look cool while also doing seemingly impossible things.

For home users, there was finally a PC that didn’t require you to reboot it to have a new user log in. So your family, children and all guests could use the same PC, without any of their private files and documents being exposed to those without the proper access. It vastly improved the applications of using computers at home, and gave offices the option of having many log-ins on the same system, while keeping data safe.

XP also revamped the way we dealt with our files. Imagine Windows without a filmstrip view for viewing pictures or the various thumbnail views. Imagine not being able to sort through a huge list in Windows Explorer as per any criterion. Windows XP changed all that.

It wasn’t without its failings though. XP brought the much-maligned Internet Explorer 6, and at least till the Service Pack 1 update, XP didn’t play very nicely with USB 2.0 devices without the right drivers.

Service packs
In 2002, a year after XP’s release, Microsoft released the first Service Pack for the OS, which was known to have fixes for over 300 bugs. Importantly, it now allowed users to set default programmes and customise the OS to their needs by removing Windows Media Player or Internet Explorer or any other ‘non-essential’ Microsoft product.

Service Pack 2 gave XP new life with initial Bluetooth implementation, better Wi-Fi support, USB 2.0 support, and a popup blocker for IE. It brought the Security Center, which allowed you to fine-tune your firewall (now called Windows Firewall) and automatic update mechanism. Four years after SP2, Microsoft released SP3 in 2008. This was after the release of Windows Vista, so naturally SP3 brought a bunch of new features with the focus being networking and better remote access.
Security Center, a key part of XP
Security Center, a key part of XP

At one point in its life, XP was running more than three-quarters of the world’s PCs. In January 2007, its market share peaked at 76.1 percent and as late as September last year, XP had a decent market share of 13.5 percent. This 12 years after its release.

There’s no doubt in our minds that XP will be missed and it will always have a special place in the hearts of those who grew up in Microsoft’s golden age.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing
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