Windows XP turns 10

10 years ago today, Windows XP was officially launched in New York City.  It was a different tie.  We were 6 weeks removed from the attacks of 9/11, computers were still not in every home, not everyone had broadband internet, and smartphones really didn't exist yet.  How far things have come….

Windows XP was the second most important operating system release in the last 20 years, behind only Windows 95.  Windows XP represented the final combination of the user friendly Windows 9x series and the stable, but business centric Windows NT series.  This may not sound like much to most, but it was important, and built the foundation that we still use today in Windows 7.

Windows XP was heavily based on the Windows 2000 codebase, which was developed before the internet was something that everyone had.  That meant a bumpy ride for most of Windows XP's life.  XP was basically designed well before what we use the internet for today.  the idea of computer viruses spreading over the internet really hadn't been conceived, and the term "malware" hadn't even been invented yet.  Quite frankly Windows XP was not well equipped to handle these.  Even with major updates, like the massive Service Pack 2 in 2004, Windows XP was never really secure from such threats, even with good antivirus software.

Despite the bad, Windows XP was still a wonderful operating system in its time.  It received three service packs, service pack 2 remains to this day the single biggest update to any windows version ever.  It introduced the start menu convention that is still used to this day in Windows 7, and many of the UI elements, while updated and given the aero glass treatment in Windows 7, can still be seen today.

That being said, Windows XP's time has long past.  For many years companies, even Microsoft, tried to bolt on features, programs, and systems that were never really designed to run in Windows XP.  Windows Desktop search is the best example of that.  Windows XP had to be updated to be able to support newer hardware (the original shipping version of XP only supported hard drive partitions 127GB or less, where today 3TB drives are in the market), and the support for wireless was rudimentary at best until later in the life cycle.

Windows XP came out 10 years ago.  If you are reading this on Windows XP, it is time to move on.  XP has been surpassed by Windows Vista and Windows 7 (admittedly moreso Windows 7).  Windows 7 is simply the best version of Windows ever made.  Windows XP changed computing and truly made it mainstream. Windows XP was something I used literally every day from 2001 until 2007 at home, and until 2010 at work.  It was a good soldier, but the sun has set on it, and it is time that we move on.

Windows Vista failed, and you have no one to blame but yourself – Part 2

This is part 2 of my article about Windows Vista, and why it failed, and why it shouldn’t have.  For part one, click Here.

Author’s note:  Part 2 had originally been intended to be an article about what makes Windows Vista a good operating system. That will now be featured in part 3.

there were nearly 4.5 years between the release of Windows XP and Windows Vista.  That is an eternity in the world of technology, and because of that, many things had changed.  Windows Vista is very much a reflection of that change.

Many of the changes going from Windows XP to Windows Vista are very technical, things I will not get into in this article.  But suffice it to say, that except for the name, and the mostly familiar feel, they are very different operating systems.  Windows XP was created in the age before most people had high speed internet, before twitter, before Facebook, before Myspace.  Windows XP comes from a time before Social networking.  When XP came out, Google was not the biggest search engine in the world.  It sat at least behind AOL search.  Windows XP launched within a month of the very first iPod. In 2001, fewer than 50% of the people in North America owned a cell phone.  The 5 most popular pop music artists/groups in 2001 were, in order:  Destiny’s Child, Jennifer Lopez, Janet Jackson, ‘N Sync, and the Backstreet Boys.  America went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq between releases.  As you can see, XP seems to come from an era of our past.

In the time between Windows XP and windows Vista, many things changed.  Computers became infinitely more powerful, and less expensive.  The internet became almost as common of a utility as having a phone line.  People used their computers in an entirely different way in 2006 than they did in 2001.

With those differences, came the challenges.  With the proliferation of the internet, so too came the proliferation of security vulnerabilities.  Windows XP was actually designed in the late 1990’s.  XP was built off of Windows 2000, which actually came out in late 1999.  Windows 2000 and XP, by design, let the user do whatever they may want without their computer without any difficulty.  The reason for this is that the largest concept of security in the late 90’s revolved around someone gaining physical access to a computer to compromise it, so less attention was paid to security.  As the internet grew, more and more computers were connected.  XP’s mentality of giving a user full access to everything on the system was it’s largest downfall.  This meant that it was very, very easy for a program downloaded from the internet to compromise a computer, because it could run even without the user knowing.  There were little to no safeguards.  Windows XP, the most stable Microsoft operating system at the time, was severely vulnerable to attacks from the internet.  And despite all of Microsoft’s best efforts, to this day, that is still true.  It is simply the way the operating system was designed.

In the internet age, it became clear that Windows had to change.  Many of the technologies at the core of Windows XP were actually first designed in the early 1990’s.  That simply would not cut it anymore.  A newer, safer, and more secure Windows was needed.  Windows Vista was the result of that.  Microsoft nearly re-wrote the entire operating system.  Many, many elements were changed.  Many of the things that were done in Windows Vista were brand new to Windows, represented a radical change for Microsoft in not only how Windows worked, but how the company made windows.

In many ways, Windows Vista is the operating system that was a proof of concept for many new things, and because of that suffered many growing pains.  In many years when we look back at Windows, we will see Windows Vista as the beginning of a new type of operating system for Microsoft, and the release that began the transition of Windows from an operating system built for a personal computer, and an operating system built for the internet connected person.

In part 3, I will discuss what Vista actually brings to the table that is better than XP, and how it is the foundation for the upcoming Windows 7.