Remembering Windows XP's early days

Remembering Windows XP's early days

Summary: I am amused by the current lovefest going on with Windows XP. It’s the greatest operating system ever, in the minds of some, especially compared to the allegedly bloated, slow Windows Vista. Ironically, some of the biggest defenders of XP were singing a very different tune a few short years ago.


I am amused by the current lovefest going on with Windows XP. It’s the greatest operating system ever, in the minds of some, especially compared to the allegedly bloated, slow Windows Vista. In fact, InfoWorld has gone so far as to kick off a “Save XP” petition drive.

Vista bashers really hate it when you point out that the same criticisms being leveled at Vista today were commonly aimed at XP after its launch. Fortunately, I’ve found a near-perfect example of this trend. It’s illuminating, and ironically, it comes from InfoWorld blogger Randall Kennedy, who has been bashing Vista and hyping the “Save XP” campaign relentlessly on his Enterprise Desktop blog. His latest entry dismisses any comparison between Vista now and XP then:

One of the arguments I hear in defense of Windows Vista's bloated footprint is that it's simply a repeat of the situation faced by users when Windows XP first shipped. Back then, the logic goes, users were complaining about Windows XP's CPU and memory requirements, with many resisting the upgrade push because they simply didn't want to make the necessary hardware commitment. …

However, the truth is that "Windows 6.0" [Vista] is really only the second mainstream iteration of the current Windows platform (Windows 2000 doesn't count since it was never a mainstream product). As such, there simply is no real precedent from which to draw such conclusions.

In the same post, Kennedy goes on to rhapsodize over Windows XP:

As those of us who remember can attest, the jump from DOS/Windows to Windows XP was a quantum leap forward in Microsoft's OS architecture. …

The introduction of Windows XP was a watershed moment for the PC industry, one that firmly cemented Microsoft's role as the pace-setter for the desktop.

Yes, XP was totally awesome when it was officially released on October 25, 2001. A quantum leap forward. A watershed moment for the PC.

Or not. Thankfully, Google is here to step in and help out some of us old fogies who’ve been in the industry for 20 years or so and can’t quite remember things as clearly as we used to.

Those of us who are willing to supplement our memories with some help from Google can attest that XP was not welcomed with open arms. In fact, it was slammed by magazines like InfoWorld, where P. J. Connolly and the very same Randall C. Kennedy published this not-so-glowing review in the October 26, 2001 issue:

Hopeless optimism must be a fundamental part of human nature, because we want to believe that new operating systems truly represent an improvement on their predecessors. It's easy to point to certain features in a new OS as examples of progress, but end-users often find that a new OS performs like molasses compared to the version they were using. As a result, CTOs wanting to capitalize on the benefits of a new OS may find that new hardware investments are necessary -- and expensive -- requirements.

Unfortunately, Microsoft's Windows XP appears to be maintaining that tradition …

Windows 2000 significantly outperformed Windows XP. In the most extreme scenario, our Windows XP system took nearly twice as long to complete a workload as did the Windows 2000 client. Our testing also suggests that companies determined to deploy Windows XP should consider ordering desktop systems with dual CPUs to get the most out of the new OS. …

Sound familiar?

Let’s compare and contrast those 2007 statements with their 2001 counterparts. Remember, this is the same publication, with the same author's name in the by-line.

On Windows 2000:

2001: “IT departments should take advantage of license downgrade provisions and continue to press forward with Windows 2000 deployments until the installed hardware base catches up with XP.”

2007: “Windows 2000 doesn’t count since it was never a mainstream product.”

On why your old OS was better:

2001: “Windows XP increasingly ate the dust of Windows 2000 as load ramped up, regardless of machine specs or Office version.”

2007: “[E]xhaustive testing confirms that Windows Vista is at least twice as slow as Windows XP when running on the same hardware.”

On hardware:

2001: “[U]ntil 2GHz desktop PCs become commonplace, we have a hard time recommending widespread adoption of Windows XP at all.”

2007: “Windows XP SP3 … absolutely screams on today's high-end, multi-core desktops.”

On “bloated” new features:

2001: “Shops lured by XP features should weigh their options carefully. In many cases, these features may not be compelling enough to justify saddling your end-users with a slower OS.”

2007: “Vista, which is basically Windows XP with more "stuff" heaped on top, and you begin to see why so many users are balking at the upgrade message. There's simply not enough "meat" to justify the pain involved.”

Get the picture? Back in 2001, Kennedy and InfoWorld were bashing XP and recommending that their readers stay with Windows 2000. Today, they’re bashing Vista and hawking their “save XP” campaign. But judging by the progression that XP made in six years, all that the Windows Vista architecture needs is time and a hardware replacement cycle or two.

And we'll be able to read all about in InfoWorld's "Save Vista" campaign. 

Topics: Operating Systems, Hardware, Microsoft, Software, Windows

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  • good one

    nice one...goes for all Vista basher...hope infoworld guy read this...
    • How is this "a good one"?

      There are in fact those of us, that hated XP when it came, and STILL do. And the same goes for Vista. I use Server 2003 on my three Windows computers and Linux and Open Enterprise on the rest. I have a couple of virtual XP computers since I have too. It's part of my job. And now, it seems, I have to install Vista for the second time. The first time was testing the thing for 4 months.

      The circus/Christmas tree look of XP, and the removal of several useful shortcuts everytime a new version of Windows is released (remember F8 in Explorer), doesn't help some of us think that "Hey, that's ok now. I can get used to XP." It looks so freakin' childish!

      I don't want an operating system that I have to spend 4 minutes adjusting, tuning and tweaking everytime I reinstall the darn thing. I know about Ghost, WDS, and bla bla, but some of us work as troubleshooters and have to have several different types of installations and test these frequently.
      • Nice line in the sand.

        An OS you can adjust, tune and tweak in 4 minutes, point me at it.

        Once it exists, that is.
      • water + fire

        = hissssssssssssss

        more water on the bigger flames: So, what dit they NOT learn from the XP mistakes? Anyway, we are the stupid customers who PAY for their bugs. Exept the ones who use the betatest copy.

        ... Only an intelligent fool makes things bigger and more complicated. (Albert Enstein)

        Sweet dreams.

      • Server 2008

        If you prefer windows server 2003 over XP or Vista on your workstation I recommend you go for Windows server 2008, it is faster,more lighweight, easier to confugure and yeah if you absolutly want the aero desktop on it is doable with a little effort. Windows server 2008 boots twice as fast as xp or server 2003, it uses less memory the server 2003 and it has full support for the latest hardware. By the way, I run Server 2008 standard x64 on my workstation. (PS not recommended for the avarage pc user, you should be an IT pro before going for this solution)
    • Capitalism gets what capitalism deserves

      If people wanna buy alpha software because it has a big brand name on it, hey, that's how it works.

      If people wanna buy water in bottles and create huge landfill problems, hey, that's great, they make a profit and the world loses out.

      You can't educate pork.
    • Total Bull

      In no way was xp nearly as bad as vista, I am no techie, but I do remember well when xp came out, took a little time to get use to and for manufacturers to catch up which was in no time than off to the races.

      But with vista you got to be kidding me, not even close, many manufacturers still havent cought up and many that did are still having problems with software, its a total dog, mistakes all over the place, and I'm not talking just about me, I see people bringing back new pc's constantly in stores like best buy and circuitcity, I see the frustration in the salesmans eyes, I see vista pc's in the hundreds for sale on sites like craigslist and others and minimal xp used sales, just talk to the people in the trenches out there, we the public, the regular guys not what some techies want you to hear, I hear people screaming about this trash OS, and not even to mention the DRM crap vista laid on us, and this guy wants to defend this manure of a system, what a joke, this guy that wrote this article, what happined, did you get paid by microsoft, are you guys trading favors or something, cause none of it makes sense.
      • Congrats.

        You've managed to post just about every anecdotal, irrational piece of FUD imagined by the hard-core ABMer. There's not one truth in either paragraph.
      • Each new OS has the same problem

        They require more resourses. That's because people add more features and almost never take any out. PC manufacturers have more to blame with Vista's "poor" performance than Microsoft. Just look what was on store shelves when Vista came out; it was basically what has been used for XP. Now that manufacturers are releasing beefier machines, and Vista is starting to look less bloated. OSX would have the same problem if Apple wasn't in complete control of its hardware and release new hardware almost simutaneously with new OSs. And Linus installes with only the bare essentials turned on or even installed. You have to turn on individual services you need and install IM clients, Codecs for video and audio, amoung other things. Once you install everything, it will be bogged down. And much of the bloat on Windows is installed by the manufacturer, not Microsoft; maybe that's why my custom computer I built myself work so well. And it was built for XP, but has no problem with Vista. The only thing that has changed since I installed Vista is the graphics card, which was something that I just wanted to do, not something that was actually needed.

        As far as DRM, Microsoft did not decide to put them in to annoy users; it was required in agreements have certain functionalities available for Windows.
      • Unreal

        Ok, I'm not going to say that you are telling lies, perhaps its possible that you just travel in some weird circle where people with Vista have been overly prone to glitches and breakdowns. It's possible I suppose.

        Now for the rest of the world; there is no major problem with Vista. I personally know may users, I use it myself at work, and I haven't even heard of someone returning a computer or laptop due to an issue with Vista. I personally cannot justify (yet) spending the money on a new OS for my home computers when XP still works so well, but I certainly use Vista every day at work, and I have done that for many months and Vista seems to work just fine without issue.

        So, if you live in some strange warp zone where Vista is crashing out computers left right and centre, thats a shame. You should move into the rest of the world where Vista is apparently working just fine.
    • Message has been deleted.

  • Awesome

    It is amazing how it is the very same people that loathed XP in 2001 are now calling it the greatest OS ever. These people live to rehash the same old tired arguments they had against XP.
    • Live to rehash...

      Yes, MS has lived to rehash and recommit all of the same problems that they dumped upon us 5 years ago.

      Way to go MS!
      • yes yes

        Of course Apple or a random Linux distro would handle the conversion of hundreds of millions of machines perfectly.

        Unfortunately we'll never get to see it happen in real life, Apple's forums burst with just a few dozen million.
        • Just because Apple and Linux are just as bad

          Does mean we shouldn't hold Microsoft to higher standard.
          • What you meant .....

            ... "Doesn't". What you said "Does". In effect your saying we shouldn't hold Microsoft to a higher standard which is correct. So even when you were wrong it was correct. We shouldn't hold them to a higher standard.
          • Eh?

            That made no sense.
          • Actually it did

            Too bad you didn't understand it
          • We shouldn't hold MS

            to any standard.

            Wow! Come to think of it MS does this very well. It conforms to no known standards and breaks many that we do know and that the rest of the world tries to comply with.

            Regarding a "higher" standard, we certainly cannot expect from MS a "higher" one as they have shown repeatedly in the past that they can't achieve that. Only an idiot would expect MS to hold a "higher" standard of product quality, customer service and customer regard.

            I personally don't hold MS to any "standard" as I try very diligently not use their damaged products, which by the way is ALL OF THEM.
          • I disagree

            Microsoft has created some great software in the past and some really crappy software. Some example I'd say are Access databases, Excel (not the rest of Office though), Windows 2000, and Visual studio. Was there something better? Maybe but at the time when these products where in their prime they were great.