How we got from Windows XP to Windows 8.1

How we got from Windows XP to Windows 8.1

Summary: This week Windows XP ended an amazing run of more than 12 years, but its influence lives on. Here's a brief history of Windows in the 21st Century.

TOPICS: Windows

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  • 2013: The big Windows 8.1 update brings back the Start button

    One of the implicit promises of Windows 8 was that Microsoft would adopt a faster release tempo than its previous every-three-years schedule. The company delivered on that promise almost immediately, with the release of Windows 8.1 exactly one year after Windows 8. This wasn't just a service pack, either. It included major new features, including the return of the Start button.

    As I noted in a first look, "This is a significant update that clearly represents much more than just a reaction to seven months’ worth of occasionally brutal customer feedback about Windows 8." The other thing that was happening at the same time was an increasing availability of touch-enabled hardware that was designed with Windows 8 in mind. Still, it's telling that "Start menu replacements" were the best-selling software products for Microsoft's new OS.

  • 2014: A second major Windows 8 update arrives

    You thought Windows 8.1 arrived quickly? A second update, adding still more features aimed at mollifying unhappy desktop users, was released roughly six months after Windows 8.1.

    And at the Build 2014 developers conference, Microsoft promised that it would be restoring the Start menu and allowing "modern" (the new name for Metro) apps to run in a window. It's not exactly a retreat, because the touch-first interface is still at the core of the latest Windows. But it's a quick admission that the problems with Windows 8 will take some time to resolve completely.

    And as the occasionally hostile reactions to Windows 8 make clear, the Windows monopoly on personal computing, which was powerful enough at the turn of the century to bring the full weight of the United States Government down on Microsoft, has ended.

Topic: Windows

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  • Ed how dare you hate on Vista???

    I inadvertently started a flame war with one of your users, screen name: ye. Waiting for ye to refute slides 7-10.
    • Pay your attention to ReactOS community edition

      ReactOS is an open-source computer operating system intended to be binary compatible with application software and device drivers made for Microsoft Windows NT versions 5.x and up (Windows XP and its successors).

      In April 2014, the ReactOS project announced an Indiegogo campaign to launch ReactOS Community Edition, a version of ReactOS based on the upcoming 0.4 release. Development of ReactOS Community Edition would be community-centric, with ReactOS users voting and funding to decide which software and hardware drivers the project will aim to support.
      • Sorry, ReactOS is lame

        it is an interesting experiment, but it barely works at all on hardware, doesn't work much better in a VM, and isn't suitable to operating computers for any purpose other than experiment and research.
        • Maybe with a little money.. and the demise of XP...

          ReactOS can become better, it just needs more money. I don't think $50,000 is enough, but I like the idea.

          I think it would have been better to fork the project, drop the name (it sucks big time), use kickstart to raise 200 grand.

          Ironically this worked for OS/2 via eCommStation, it might work for XP.
      • The NT 6.x kernel is a re-write and will therefore be very difficult to ...

        ... "clone" by the open-source community without infringing upon Microsoft's intellectual property.

        The problem with open-source is that, while it drives innovation, unrestricted innovation breeds incompatibilities - and results in dozens of variants - none of this are truly compatible with each other.
        M Wagner
        • it isn't a rewrite, kernels never see those

          Anyone who tells you OS kernels get "rewrites" is good at marketing talk, but is no software developer.

          The most important principal of software development is economy of effort - don't change what you don't need to. I guarantee you that principal has been applied to the Windows kernel over the years, and if Dave Cutler popped by the office and peered in at the code, he would likely find it entirely recognizable, even if changed in places.

          All of this has quite literally nothing to do with ReactOS and whether they can clean room the Windows kernel and bootloader or not. They probably will infringe patents (in which case Microsoft would do what they've done with Android, and require licenses for anyone distributing ReactOS.)

          But interfaces are not copyrightable. We saw that in the Java and SCO cases. So if they clean room the OS, that's entirely legal, although it is patent encumbered.
      • Wait a minute!!!!

        You keep posting this in almost every comment section. Are you getting paid to promote this ReactOS crap? Give it a rest. ReactOS is pure garbage, and nobody with any sense is going to bother with it. Linux is a thousand times better and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone but enthusiasts and tinkerers who either hate Microsoft or too cheap/poor to spend money on an OS.
      • You are posting this everywhere.

        You are posting this everywhere. Get out.
        ReactOS is not good, never was, and never will.
        And it is old.
        • React was going nowhere fron the get go

          Yea I think the problem was that it wanted to be a Windows clone. No real interest there. No one cared to clone Windows.
    • i dood it

      well I dood it jumped back to windows 7

      last august I bought a new HP laptop for my 14 year old daughter for school and no one in the house would use it and it had me tearing my hair out trying to get it to do it's job. the wife got an email from HP that they had new laptops with windows 7 pre installed great she had me buy one for my daughter and all was well in the house. but we still had the dam windows 8 system and 8.1 did not help so I bought and oem copy of 7 64 bit and stole the laptop and hosed the drive and reinstalled windows 7 and now the wife is using it and all is well
      • Buying from HP was part of the problem. Installing the OS ...

        ... (Windows 7 or 8) on "bare metal" always results in a better outcome than upgrading over an older OS, or relying on an OEM to build you a clean system free of CRAPWARE.
        M Wagner
      • there was another way, free too!

        if you'd used something like the free Classic Shell then you'd have been happier with Win8. This gives you a proper start menu and boots you straight into the desktop.

        In other words it converts a nightmarish monster into a kindly pet.

        simple simon
      • Why?

        Got both my daughters Windows 8 laptops 1.5 years ago and installed Classic Shell on them, removed all the Metro apps, and had them boot to desktop and turned off Charms.

        Unlike the OS you put on your family, ours has OneDrive OS sync that allows them to use the family Surface RT tablet and login with their own userID and get all their settings, files, bookmarks, etc. W8 is more secure, runs faster, boots fasters, etc. And the $200 Surface RT tablet has full Office on it for life and that's what they use to do homework or other Office work on and they can edit or "consume" their work via OneDrive.

        You did your family no favors.
        Rann Xeroxx
    • Why should he

      the whinging about Vista is just as silly as the one currently going rond about Windows 8.

      Some idiots utters it's garbage, yet another says it is allright.

      The idiot uttering it's garbage thinks he know something about computers, but has either never use the product, or is simply unfit to actually use a computer.

      The one that says it is allright is labelled an MS fan boy, or worse an MS employee paid to post.

      And the discussion will go on and on, never ever reaching a conclusion.

      It's almost like politics, but in this case about a subject that is completely irrelevant to most normal people.
      • Brilliant logic

        So according to you I gotta be a chef before I can spit out food and say this is horrible.
        • No, he is saying that it makes no sense for people to bicker ...

          ... over what is clearly a difference of opinion.
          M Wagner
          • Disagree

            If it saves people from making costly mistakes like wasting money on a Vista box instead of waiting for something that does the job well.

            People who refuse to learn from history are destined to repeat the mistakes of the past. This is much more than just a matter of opinion.
          • your opinion is that Vista was bad

            My opinion was that Vista was much much better than XP and much much more secure. Yes it did require a bit more resources, but it actually knew how to address these resources, unlike XP. The memory management in Vista simply put XP to utter shame. I am not even mentioning security, as it was quite clearly in a different league.

            At the time, I would advise any of my friends and family to disregard the bullocks and get Vista (making sure the hardware indeed was Vista ready).

            Not 1 disregarded my advice and not 1 regretted it. Nothing more needs to be said really.
          • Other factors

            Ed mentioned the sub-par Intel hardware MS certified as being Vista Compatible that should not have made the cut, he also mentions that drivers were either not available at launch or were buggy and unstable.

            I'll tack on that file transfers with Vista initially were much slower than in XP. UAC drove users insane, taught them to click "Allow" without bothering to read what the warning was or they disabled the feature entirely.

            The final straw for me was when my flashdrive didn't work with Vista while it worked just fine with XP (back then they were expensive). I did a clean install of XP and didn't upgrade until Win 7.

            Yeah, a lot of those problems were overcome but at that point did I care enough to try it again? Nope.
          • The frequency of UAC prompts merely illustrated how poorly...

            ...applications were written. Not only did the UAC model improve security it also forced better programming habits.