A requiem for Windows XP

We remember the pros, and a few cons, of the most popular version of Windows to date

Despite an outpouring of demand -- including more than 210,000 people who signed InfoWorld's "Save XP" petition, Microsoft held firm and Monday discontinued sales of XP in most cases. So, we bid adieu to Windows XP.

Sure, any copies of XP in use will continue to run, so the venerable operating system isn't leaving us entirely. And enterprises, small businesses, and some consumers will still be able to install XP as a "downgrade" to Windows Vista Business or Ultimate. And until February 1, 2009, system builders will be able to install XP on "white box" PCs they assemble, which also ironically includes Apple Macs that are bundled with Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion by resellers such as MacMall and CDW. Finally, low-cost, low-power desktops and laptops such as the Asus Eee PC can ship with Windows XP until 2010.

But it is the end of an era nonetheless.

In response to XP's passing, several InfoWorld editors and contributors shared their memories of XP.

Mario Apicella: After all the rather buggy versions of Windows since the very first edition (that was 3.0, I believe), Windows XP was a pleasant surprise. "Microsoft finally got it right," was my thinking. Well almost.

Windows XP has been much more stable than previous versions, but Microsoft failed to address one major issue in it as well as in Vista: the capability to install a new version of the OS without having to reinstall all applications.

For me this is a major issue that affects home users as well as business users because it makes a simple OS change a major endeavor if/when an update in place is not possible. That missing capability puts Windows at a striking disadvantage against other OSes, such as Linux where a new OS can almost always play nice with existing applications.

I realize that because of the Windows architecture, decoupling applications from the OS is a significant change, which seems to me a good reason to start moving in that direction.

Another of my pet peeves with Windows XP (and Vista): Try using a keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+V) to paste text in a command Window, and all you'll get is ^V on the command line. How many software engineers does it take to write that code? I don't know the answer, but must be a large number because that inconsistency with the regular window behavior has been there since the Paleolithic Windows version.

These are just two examples of the issues Microsoft could have fixed or begun fixing in Vista but didn't. It's clear that the Redmond developers' agenda is in conflict with what I and many other users would like to see.

Yet, it's not a biggie for me if Microsoft prefers its own agenda. There are other OSes, after all; Mac OS X and Ubuntu are mighty attractive.

Brian Chee: I just moved to a Mac laptop due to my frustration with Vista's flaky behavior when I switch among lots of different networks, as I must do when I perform test setups. I'm also really tired of the lack of 64-bit drivers. So I'm running XP and Linux under VMware Fusion.

XP was also so much more stable for kiosk-type work. Thank God they aren't killing the thin XP version for kiosks and embedded applications.

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