The day has finally come; Microsoft will be bidding farewell to one of the world’s most used desktop operating systems, Windows XP. Almost 13 years ago, in August 2001, Microsoft released Windows XP, an operating system that was soon single-handedly going to change the computing culture. Windows XP made its way into millions of computers across the world: homes, offices, educational institutions, industries, and almost every other store at your local market.


Windows XP (especially SP3) is so sophisticated in itself that Microsoft – which usually gives its products around 10 year life span for support and services – kept on extending the support for Windows XP. But now, they have decided to call it quits, so on 8th April 2014, Microsoft will be finally ending its support – deserting security revisions, critical patches and assistance.

Rising and Shining Windows XP

The first few months of sales weren’t overwhelming as Windows XP failed to strike the right chords. Even when compared to Windows 98, XP in its days of inception couldn’t match that pace. Howard Dyckovsky, an NPD Intelect analyst suggested back then:

It’s a sign of the change in the market that operating systems relatively aren’t as important in the retail market.

In terms of software and hardware coupling, it had made significant improvements over all its predecessors. It was lightweight, in fact it was so light on system resources, that the only few things you needed to run its home version was:

  • 64 MB of RAM
  • 233 MHz of processor
  • Around 1.6 GB of hard drive space.

Notably, it was also the first OS to introduce the concept of activation.

Usage share of operating system

As sluggish and outdated Windows XP has become, still there is a huge chunk of people using it. The reason for this is that although Microsoft thinks it’s time to unplug its cord, most software firms make sure to get their apps compatible on Windows XP. And why shouldn’t they? Windows XP is still the second most used Operating System and even after the arrival of Windows 8, 38% people on earth still boot Windows XP to work. In fact, it is so all-inclusive that according to some websites and forums, even after the launch of Windows 8, for the past few months there were only 0.09% people who migrated from Windows XP.

Notwithstanding with the destiny Howard Dyckovsky was expecting, Windows XP gained momentum and went ahead to sell 600 million copies in its 110 month of ascendancy. These are just statistics though; nothing is linear in computing realm.

It will be inane of us to oversee this from the consumer perspective. One of the other reasons why people are still using Windows XP is sort of vindicated by the fact that there are still around 2 million people on earth who use Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000, and even Windows 3.x. So, it is very hard to predict when will be the time when people will stop using Windows XP.

How about making Windows XP open source?

Microsoft has made it clear that they are abandoning Windows XP, but will it make sense if they decide to make it open source? Well, they can’t actually.

One of the reasons is that Microsoft has been using some of the codes that they used in Windows XP to develop Windows Vista, and every other OS that they released after it. So, allowing people to get a look at their recipe is a total no. Also, Microsoft has used some codes in XP that they don’t have the rights to produce to the public, hence it doesn’t seem this temptation will ever be able to present itself.

Living with Windows XP


Microsoft has been rolling out various discounted offers to make their old users upgrade to the latest version. In a world where Windows lovers can live happily ever after with Windows 7 (yeah, Windows 8 isn’t doing all that well, I hope Windows Blue heals that wound), we know for a fact that 38% people are still using Windows XP, so presuming that all of them will leave that coalition just because Microsoft has given up on XP doesn’t make much sense.

But sadly, the end of support management will tail more loopholes in security among other equally concerning areas. Bearing in mind the number of people who use Windows XP, I don’t think security companies will stop providing and building their products for our archaic OS just yet. Hence, to resolve these security issues, one is advised to install 3rd party anti-virus and firewall. Once that has been taken care of, you are obviously required to install a better browser, thankfully Chrome and Mozilla Firefox hasn’t stopped tendering Windows XP.

You can install several other 3rd party apps to strengthen the further imperative functionality such as search, device management, Media Players and several other productivity and multimedia tasks. Having issues finding the compatibility of the new printer you just plugged in? Well, get it fixed soon. This is the jumbling part of all this chaotic sight that Microsoft has laid; we are not sure how it will deal with the activation mechanism once this all is done.

Activation, if you remember, is the limited days (usually, 30 days) period after successful installation of most Microsoft product. You have to get your license verified over the internet to ensure whether or not you are using a genuine copy. If Microsoft decides to pull that plug off completely, the only way you will ever be able to make your computer run again after reinstallation of your operating system will be to use a crack, which again has legal issues.

Long live Windows XP

In almost every industry, IT is the department that is considered to be a drain on resources. To cut short on it, and thanks to the hilarious hiccups in Windows Vista, people didn’t mind sticking with their age old confidant, Windows XP. Not to forget that replacing or upgrading thousands of computers in any computer network will take years to be properly planned and executed. There have been lots of surveys doing rounds that suggest that people don’t want to leave Windows XP after all.

The other reason why Windows XP became so popular is that you don’t really need much internet access to make it work. Thanks for the lesser crashing experience and longevity, Windows XP went on to become the perfect machine for the places where there is trouble or shortage of internet availability. I know from my personal experience, since my dad works in post office, that most of the computers there are still running Windows XP, so this sluggish office environment has made Windows XP their lifetime companion. And remember, it wasn’t until the 4th quarter of the last year that Windows 7 became the most popular operating system for desktops.

Another reason why Windows XP managed to canon the computer world despite the presence of Apple’s OS, is the humongous application ecosystem they have. Unlike Apple’s app-store centered sphere, Microsoft gives you the ability to use their OS the way you so desire. Microsoft succeeded to port a sophisticated collaboration between hardware and software (extensive USB support and plug-n-play functionality) and kept the openness in its agreement intact.

It is also true that Windows XP was the first OS of its kind to give far-reaching administrative commands to its users. Something that Microsoft has maintained since then. This made it even more popular at the heart of mischief makers. It indorsed everyone play and tweak with its software’s settings and get to know the working of it.

Why Windows XP isn’t dead yet

Microsoft wants to make more profit, imagine if your first phone could have had all the features, and all you had to do was make an update. Of course the hardware keeps uplifting itself, but you get my point, right? When Microsoft released Windows Vista eight years back, they also directed all the resources to it. Then came two more operating systems: you can fill the blanks. Thing is that this is a consumer driven market, people decide what they want, so if millions of consumers still wish to use Windows XP, ending the support isn’t going to help Microsoft.

If they were doing the traditional migration — which people have done to get to XP from Windows 95, for example — then on our analysis if there have anything more than a couple of hundred PCs, they really haven’t got time to do that. Not unless they throw an absolute mammoth amount of manpower at it

says Roy Illsley, Ovum principal analyst. By abandoning its own products, killing all the support, Microsoft is pushing its users to other platforms.

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Manish is pursuing a degree in Computer Science and Engineering but spends more time in writing about technology. He has written for a number of Indian and international publications including BetaNews, BGR India, WinBeta, MakeTechEasier, MediaNama, and Digit magazine among others. When not writing, you would find him ranting about the state of digital journalism on Twitter.