Windows 8 is the new XP

Windows 8 is the new XP

Summary: This new version of Windows is a disaster. Power users can't wait to replace the UI, and businesses are avoiding it like the plague. I'm talking, of course, about Windows XP. Ah, how quickly we forget.

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TOPICS: Windows
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This new version of Windows is going to be a disaster, pundits say. It will be completely rejected by businesses, who will stick with old versions even after Microsoft drops support for them.

And its new interface is so hideous and unusable that customers who are forced to use it will trip over themselves finding ways to restore the old Start menu.

I am, of course, talking about Windows XP, which was released 11 years ago this week. It lived down to all those insults and dire predictions for years before it finally and implausibly became a success.

If you’re a lazy pundit and haven’t written your Windows 8 wrap-ups yet, feel free to use these decade-old stories, just substituting 8 for XP.

See also:

I keep reading that businesses are going to snub Windows 8. News flash: Businesses snub every new Windows version. It was true three years ago, and eight years ago, and 11 years ago.

Consider the dismal results as Windows XP celebrated its one-year anniversary:

Windows XP Slow to Take Hold – Paula Rooney, CRN, Oct 11, 2002

On the first anniversary of Windows XP's release, Microsoft has little to celebrate.

Less than 10 percent of Microsoft's installed base has upgraded to Windows XP since its release last October. That matches a 2001 Gartner prediction that nearly 75 percent of all corporate PCs would still be running Windows 95, 98 or NT Workstation by the end of 2002.

The adoption rate for the installed base of 250 million Windows users is "pretty small," said Rogers Weed, vice president of Windows client product management at Microsoft. "We're trying to kick-start some momentum."

On XP’s second birthday, businesses were still yawning:

Users cling to old Microsoft operating systems – Ina Fried, CNET, Dec 12, 2003

[A] new study shows that a substantial number of businesses, both large and small, are still using [Windows 98].

The study looked at 372,129 PCs from 670 companies ranging in size from 10 to 49,000 employees. …

In total, Windows 95 made up 14.7 percent of operating systems, and Windows 98 made up 12.5 percent. Windows 2000 was the most common OS, running on slightly more than half of machines, while its predecessor, Windows NT4, was still used on 13.3 percent of desktops.

Windows XP, the most current version of Windows, was found on just 6.6 percent of the machines.

One month later, in January 2004, ZDNet Australia reported that Microsoft was extending support for Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, and Windows ME:

The software giant has prolonged support for the operating systems until June 30, 2006. During that time, paid over-the-phone support will be available, "critical" security issues will be reviewed, and "appropriate steps" taken.

The company's support for the Windows 98 family of operating systems was scheduled to end this Friday, with support for Windows ME due to expire in December of this year.

"Microsoft made this decision to assist our customers worldwide who are still dependent upon these operating systems and to provide Microsoft more time to communicate its product lifecycle support guidelines in a handful of markets?-particularly smaller and emerging markets," said Danny Beck, Microsoft Australia's senior Windows desktop product marketing manager.

Stop and let that sink in. Businesses were voluntarily choosing Windows 98 and even the despised Windows Me over XP.

In August 2004, nearly three years after XP was released, rumors of a new version code-named Longhorn were flying. Professional curmudgeon Stephen Manes surveyed his readers for their reactions to Windows XP. In the print edition of PC World, respondents could barely suppress their loathing for the XP Start menu:

I also urged you to weigh in on … the idea that Longhorn might kill the "Classic" interface that's been around since Windows 95.

[…]

[M]ore than 700 of you demanded its survival--as opposed to 3 who liked the new Windows XP look. Many complained about XP's "Fisher-Price interface" and noted that the first thing they do on any XP machine is switch back to Classic View. I wholeheartedly agree.

A few years later, in one of the great ironies that makes this business so much fun, PC World sister publication InfoWorld was collecting hundreds of thousands of names for its “Save XP” petition.

The amusing thing about all this is that XP didn’t need saving. It’s still alive and well today, and will be supported by Microsoft until April 2014. Despite the early scorn and dismissal, XP turned out to be the long-term support version, the one that businesses adopted and stuck with. And corporate buyers are moving, finally, to Windows 7, where they will be able to park entire Fortune 500 enterprises until 2020.

So what happened to Windows XP? How did its reputation improve after those early scornful reactions?

Mostly, it was time that did all the healing. As consumers picked up new PCs running Windows XP, they got used to the interface. Microsoft released a series of service packs that fixed bugs and (notably with SP2) improved the generally woeful security of the initial release. People got used to the bright colors of the "Fisher-Price interface," and eventually it didn't seem so garish.

The hardware caught up too. In the next two years, even the worst-case estimates suggest that the PC industry will sell 500 million new PCs, many of them equipped with touchscreens on which the Windows 8 interface will make perfect sense.

The Microsoft that released Windows 8 is much more disciplined than the one that shipped Windows XP. I expect that Windows 8 will get frequent updates, including one or two that will make the interface more flexible for developers and end users.

I’m also willing to bet that Windows 9 arrives in two years, with Windows 10 probably coming two years after that. Businesses will studiously ignore those new releases, of course. Just as they always do.

Topic: Windows

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361 comments
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  • What?

    There is no room left in the current tech world for factual common sense writing, get this crap out of here!

    I'm still trying to get config.sys and autoexec.bat back!

    /s
    rwalrond
    • Luddites

      like you are still using PC-Write 2.72.
      Stroyde
      • I type my post in edit.com

        Got any problem with that, you tech fashion freak?
        polarcat
        • Did you notice notice that Ed Bolt is sounding

          more and more like Loverock Davidson? Ed must be listening to Loverock more and more to come to those conclusion?
          Over and Out
          • Ed Bott not "Ed Bolt"

            Ed Bott's family has two t's and no l's.
            AMusnikow
          • Bolt?

            You sayin Bolt makes me wanna sprint away!
            Mytheroo
        • Is is a valid website?

          I tried the edit.com on my browser but it does not bring an editor !!!!

          Do you think something is wrong with my PC?
          wmac1
          • Edit.com - not a website. Single line editor in MS DOS

            @wmac1 -

            Don't check your browser or computer.

            I believe, polarcat is referring to the single line editor program - "edit.com" that shipped with MS DOS (and variants). It predates Windows 95 and may have last shipped with MS DOS v6.22.
            CodingUnknowingly
          • edit.com

            was available (download?) and some version works with XP (it is on my old desktop). I don't know about Vista but it is finally gone with 7.
            oldnuke69
          • Windows 6.5

            Are you sure edit.com is gone with 7? I'm still able to call it from command box (a.k.a DOS prompt). Maybe my windows is 6.5 but it shows windows 7 logo at starting up!
            ehgh
          • EDIT, EDLIN, AUTOEXEC.BAT, CONFIG.SYS

            I open up the dos shell in Win8 CP.
            cd\
            dir

            and I find autoexec.bat and config.sys there !

            edit autoexec.bat

            and BAAM the fullscreen editor is there!

            but wait, wonder if they left EDLIN in there as well...

            copy con > test.txt
            hello
            world

            edlin test.txt
            *L
            1:*hello
            2: world

            HOLY CRAP, IT'S ALL THERE in WIN 8! LOL
            warboat
          • correction

            copy con doesn't work.
            I cheated and used edit to create 2 line hello world file.
            warboat
          • re: Copy Con

            Actually "copy con" does work in Windows 7 ;-)
            I use it now and then
            Loggies
          • Shame Shame Shame...

            Now we have to spank your digital fingers... "Bad XOR,, Bad XOR...."
            OaklawnRick
          • It's not in the release preview

            C:\>edlin test
            'edlin' is not recognized as an internal or external command,
            operable program or batch file.

            C:\>edit test
            'edit' is not recognized as an internal or external command,
            operable program or batch file.

            C:\>ver

            Microsoft Windows [Version 6.2.8400]

            I assume it wasn't put back in place for the release version.
            ye
          • edit.com

            edit.com still does come with windows 7. are you running a 64-bit windows version, or 32-bit? if you are using 64-bit, then that is why. it's a very old utility that needs 16-bit real mode (or v8086 if in protected mode) to work.

            the 64-bit extensions in modern CPUs render them completely unable to run 16-bit code once a 64-bit OS has booted due to technical caveats in the binary encoding format of the instruction set.
            miker00lz
          • edit.com does work in XP

            Command Prompt---XP MCE SP3
            PreachJohn
          • older than that

            thats edlin for single line editor
            fartman_man
          • Good ol' EDLIN

            The only editor that can insert an ASCII 0 character in a file! Unless you count DEBUG.COM as an editor.
            sparent
          • edlin

            Edlin was my way to edit autoexec.bat and configuration.sys. I don't miss it but I do miss port jumpers. I hate plug n play,
            rp518