Ten years since Windows XP hit manufacturing

Ten years since Windows XP hit manufacturing

Summary: It is ten years today since Microsoft rolled out Windows XP to manufacturers. Are you still using the ageing operating system?


It is ten years since Microsoft released what turned out to be the world's most popular operating system into the wild -- into the hands of manufacturers like Dell and HP to install on new PCs.

Bill Gates and Jim Allchin signed off the gold disk in view of journalists, shortly before it flew off in a helicopter to bring the brand new operating system to OEM builders.

As the ageing operating system is still used by tens of millions worldwide, holding around 45 percent share according to StatCounter, it finally dipped below the 50 percent mark last month.

Within two months of its release to manufacturing, it became available to the general public -- and copies flew off the shelves.

But one tragic event and another major blow to Microsoft hit the Windows XP launch.

With just over a month before the October 25th general availability for the public to pick up their copy of the next-generation operating system, two planes slammed into the World Trade Center on September 11th. Microsoft took the wise decision to scale down the worldwide launch party.

A group known as devils0wn, with just over a month before general release, was cracked and released into the wild. Though the key has long-been obsolete, it enabled millions to illegally pirate the disk without buying a copy.

But Windows ploughed on and continued to sell across most of the world -- and within a few years, it had become the world's most popular operating system -- peaking at 76.1 percent in January 2007.

As Windows 7, released in October 2009, still has a way to catch up as Microsoft continues to engage in disaster recovery mode after the 'Vista fiasco'.

Microsoft has sold in the region of 350-400 million copies, based on figures from earlier this year.

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Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Software, Windows

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  • What are your memories of the day?

    What were you doing? Did you celebrate the day? Do you still even have a copy of Windows XP running, or has it been relegated to a virtual machine? Was Windows XP the best operating system to date, or simply lasted longer because of Vista's failings? <b>Have your say.</b>
    • RE: Ten years since Windows XP hit manufacturing

      @zwhittaker - We're still running XP on a Sony VAIO RB-Series machine and a Fujitsu Lifebook P7120. Both of those machines run everything from Media Center to iTunes to Microsoft Office without a problem, but with the Sony's memory maxed out at 2 GB, and the P7120 maxed at 1 GB, so neither of them will run Windows 7. But they really don't need to. MS needs to make systems that aren't such memory hogs. We tried Vista on both, but found it to no improvement to XP, so we stuck with XP and everything is fine. Needless to say, the newer computers in our house run Windows 7, but these two old ones are just fine.
      sue swift
      • RE: Ten years since Windows XP hit manufacturing

        @sue swift "so neither of them will run Windows 7"

        Sure about that, Sue? You might be surprised at what Win7 can run on. I have a Z60T ThinkPad (circa 2005 - bought in 2008) with 2gb and a Pentium M processor at 1.7ghz that I have Win7 on.
        First, I signed up to MS Technet and downloaded the 90 day eval copy of 7 to test it out.
        Startup and shutdown are way faster than a clean XP install. Everything seems snappier - even after loading firewall and malware utilities and such. Had to scrounge a little to get a working sound driver, and Aero does not work, due to the outdated, unsupported video subsystem, but it still looks great. I liked it so much that I bought a family 3 pack of Win7 Home. (note: you can legally 'upgrade' an XP system, but you must do a clean install, and getting the license activated takes a phone call or a tweak that is easily found online.)
        Last I checked, about two months ago, the 90 day eval was still available. Just have to sign up to get access to it. If you have a spare empty drive to swap out and install to, it is a great way to test drive Win7. (you could probably install to an in-use drive, but a blank drive is safer).
    • RE: Ten years since Windows XP hit manufacturing

      @zwhittaker Still running WinXP SP3 on my desktop machine at my office (not by my choice).
      Upgraded to a laptop with Vista in October 2007, and while it was undeniably a rough transition to adapt to the different file structure and a couple early flaws, the OS really hasn't been that bad since they put out the first service pack.
      I personally feel that Vista's bad rep is unjustified today, but unfortunately it will forever be a grease stain on MS's polo shirt.
    • Until the hardware or software craps out

      @zwhittaker <br><br>I'll run XP until either the hardware or software ceases to function. I have XP on two P4 machines from 2005 that just won't support Windows 7, and one dual core machine from 2007 that will but my wife was worried about compatibility issues. She keeps her household apps on that box, so she gets to decide. <br><br>My personal laptop runs Windows 7, but all our machines at work, except for very recent replacements, all run XP and I don't see anyone in the company running around like headless chickens to upgrade the OS as long as the machine is functioning.<br><br>I like Windows 7. I also liked my '94 Mazda MX-6 untiil it became unfunctionable after 15 years.
    • RE: Ten years since Windows XP hit manufacturing

      As Windows 7, released in October 2009, still has a way to catch up as Microsoft continues to engage in disaster recovery mode after the ?Vista fiasco?.

      What about the Windows NT and ME fisacos?
    • RE: Ten years since Windows XP hit manufacturing


      I still run XP on my main machine and so does my daughter. Earlier this year I wanted to upgrade my hardware but leave my software alone. So I built up a new machine, popped my old drive into my new machine, re-registered it with MS, installed the new drivers that came with the motherboard and off I went. I'm sure I'll still be happy a couple of years from now.

      I only run a newer OS when I buy a newer machine and it comes along for free. I'm still running a Win98se laptop with Quicken '98 as my financial box. Never connnected to the internet.
  • RE: Ten years since Windows XP hit manufacturing

    Delete Me.
  • RE: Ten years since Windows XP hit manufacturing

    Your post PC era will never be upon you because of your nostalgia for Windows.
    • RE: Ten years since Windows XP hit manufacturing

      @Return_of_the_jedi I personally want the PC to reign on. Long live the PC!
  • XP is the zenith of Microsoft

    That XP became reliable only after SP2 is a total myth. XP was gold right from RTM. It became much more secure after SP2. Another myth: XP was a minor update. XP brought a plethora of new features: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Features_new_to_Windows_XP. And another myth: XP doesn't run on modern hardware. Wrong. XP runs and scales extremely well on modern hardware, even multi-core processors. XP after SP2 is also secure enough.
    • Of course XP runs on modern hardware

      @anonymuos - I'm still running Windows XP, and it runs fine on modern hardware. I built a new AMD box this spring, with USB 3.0, SATA 3, etc. There's still readily available drivers for XP for each hardware component on the motherboard. The only thing you may need to do is install an update (KB953028) to prevent crashes on machines with more than four processor cores. I have not yet run across a new hardware device made by a major manufacturer that doesn't have an XP driver available.
    • RE: Ten years since Windows XP hit manufacturing


      Windows XP isn't built to take advantage of multi-core processors like Vista and 7 are.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: Ten years since Windows XP hit manufacturing

        @Cylon Centurion, that's a myth. Windows NT has always supported symmetric multiprocessing and programs need to be specifically programmed for parallelism to take advantage of multiple cores. The operating system's kernel scheduler will try to balance the workloads but unless the program is multi-core optimized (using a parallelism optimized compiler like the ones in Visual Studio 2010 or Intel's Parallel Studio), it won't make much of a difference. And btw Visual Studio 2010 also runs on XP. The Vista/7 scheduler does have minor changes for more fair scheduling but that's about it. Programs won't automagically run faster on Vista/7 because you have a quad core CPU any more than on XP. Multi-core aware programs can be written on XP as well as long as the compiler supports it.
      • RE: Ten years since Windows XP hit manufacturing

        In order to utilize multiple cores, the application has to be written to do that. Installing a single threaded game on a multi core computer will result in only 1 core being used by the game. There is an advantage in that the OS can assign other tasks to the idle core(s). So the game can have 1 core's undivided attention. This is not a bad thing, and does result in real performance improvements. But because the game itself only "understands" 1, then it will only use 1. This is the same whether you use XP or 7. Nearly all past and current applications for PC including the ones built into Windows are only single processor/core aware. This will change over time, for sure. But in many/most cases will require developers to write completely new apps. For example, robocopy in Windows 7 is multi-threaded. Some video encoding and editing apps are multi threaded. They will perform slightly faster on W7, but that doesn't mean Windows XP (or Windows 2000) cannot take advantage of multiple cores at all. XP and later also support simultaneous multithreading (something Windows 2000 does not).
    • RE: Ten years since Windows XP hit manufacturing


      I do not agree with you. I support 200 pcs and WinXP, prior to SP2, was a buggy nuisance! After SP2, it was finally how it should have been in the first place. Why do we put up with paying for the privilege of being M$ beta testers? It really pi$$es me off!

      Most of our systems are still running XP, and doing just fine. I rolled out about 2 dozen Win'7 systems this year as replacements, and for the most part they run well, but I still get goofy errors that defy explanation, and since there were so many hits on Google, I am not the only one experiencing them.
  • RE: Ten years since Windows XP hit manufacturing

    When XP first came out, average PC hardware was too slow for it, and it was generally much less usable than Win2K and especially Win98. Hardware that could run XP with any sort of snap didn't become common until about when Vista came out. Vista's problems along with the first Linux-loaded netbooks (which freaked Microsoft out enough to keep XP available first for just netbooks, which couldn't run bloated Vista, but then to all PC's as Vista's "Wow" quickly faded to mostly "Ugh!") kept XP around until Win7 was rushed out the door a couple of years later, and giving consumers the rare luxury of running Windows with speed on cheap hardware.

    Win7 was basically recooked Vista, but was fixed up enough, and when combined with the faster mainstream hardware available two years later was a bit more acceptable to the general public (especially after it became impossible for the average consumer to by a new XP PC, however desired or even needed it may be.)

    But Win7 really is a barely discernible improvement over Vista: bloated, sluggish and aggravating in its design and usability. Indeed, over this past weekend I had to spend some phone time talking someone with a new notebook running 64-bit Win7 through how to access shared printers at this XP-dominated office he works part time at. The official solution is inexcusably nonintuitive for a non-techie, and reflects very poorly on Microsoft's coders in how they couldn't make things easier in dealing with what would be a very common scenario.

    Personally, I've been toying with Linux distros off and on for a while but kept Win2k, XP and even 98 around on different PC's mostly out of laziness. But I've been finally moving away from the toying stage and have settled in with making that my primary OS and running different Windows flavors as needed in virtual machines. The hardest decision has been which Linux distro to use (I've been liking lightweight Peppermint a lot since putting it on a netbook.)

    For more mainstream users, when they are ready to replace their old WinXP PC's, and they see/hear about continuing hassles with Win7, as with that shared printer scenario, getting an Mac seems more and more attractive: if you are going to get something so different from what you are use to, and as long as it runs MS Office in some form, why not a Mac? This is even more the case if they have kids in college and high school where Macs have really begun to take over, if for no other reason than the drastic reductions in infections and general hassles from moving from a Windows notebook to a MacBook.

    I would say, overall, Vista/Win7 will be seen down the road as Microsoft's swan song.
    • Note to self - I just read a lot of crap

      @JustCallMeBC Windows XP ran great as long as you ignored Microsoft's minimum system requirements. It worked best with 256 MBs of RAM. Looking at the back of PC Magazine and PC World Magazines, most PC vendors such as DELL and HP were preloading systems with 256 MBs of RAM in 2002, this was 4 years before the release of Vista.
      • I'll second this.

        @adacosta38: Though I didn't read it all. Stopped reading at this point:

        "Hardware that could run XP with any sort of snap didn't become common until about when Vista came out."

      • I'll 3rd it!

        @adacosta38 Seriously dude, what rock have you been stuck under? When I worked at a small college in SC we made the transition from ME to XP (all we needed was memory upgrades) and had absolutely no problems with performance. I no longer work there, so I don't know if they are still running XP or if they switched to 7, but for the almost 10 years I was there it was great.