Hi folks,

The big fat lie we’ve deliberately inserted in our previous article was about ‘discography‘: of course discography has nothing to do with hard-disks nor has it something to do with graphics actually.
It is just the list of all sound recordings (i.e., songs) published by an artist or band or orchestra but let’s see if you’re going to find the lie we’ve slipped in this article.
That being said, this April was the month when Microsoft cut off the last tie to one of its most popular products ever: the Windows XP Operating System.
So for today we thought about telling you a word or two about the interesting WinXP phenomenon.

In the late 90’s, Microsoft began developing a new generation of Operating Systems for general public to follow the Windows 98, the second version of which (named Windows 98 Second Edition, released in 1999) was apparently the most stable OS from the 9x family.
The new project was codenamed “Neptune” but soon it got merged with the similar project meant for Enterprise OS, the resulting endeavour being codenamed “Whistler“.
This way, in August 2001 a new Windows OS was released for general public, having the same kernel as Windows 2000 (aka Windows NT 5.x) a significantly improved OS meant for server and desktop deployment as well.
The substantially improved kernel along with major graphic user interface improvements made Windows XP a really attractive product for both consumers and businesses as it provided ease-of-use, stability and efficiency.
It also offered increased security if compared to its predecessors but even so the level of security soon proved insufficient so three major enhanced versions, called Service Packs were released over time: the SP1 in September 2002, the SP2 in August 2004 (by far the most important of the three SPs) and the SP3 in May 2008, which is quite interesting as it happened more than one year after the next Windows OS named Vista had been released (January 2007).

Windows XP was not an instant hit although the first release generated rather positive reviews overall.
But it soon started to gain more and more popularity and especially after SP2 release (which became a synonym to Windows XP) it continued to get widely adopted to such an extend it set (and currently holds) world records in terms of market share and time being present on the market.

It is estimated that more than 500 million licenses were sold in the first 5 years after the first release and that the number updated as of April 2014 (in about 13 years, that is) exceeds 1 billion copies sold worldwide.
Windows XP was followed by Vista, Windows-7 and the latest Windows product, the Windows-8.
But XP was so successful it was the undisputable Number One desktop OS for the longest time ever, holding a bigger market share than all Windows OS desktop versions put together.
Some say that there were also collateral facts that helped the XP achieve such a tremendous career, for example the poor public reception of the not-convincing Vista (Longhorn) OS.
But just 2 years later Vista was followed by a particularly well-done Windows OS, namely the Windows-7 (dubbed Windows Se7en) released in 2009 and despite its undisputable superiority over the XP, it took almost 3 years for the Win7 to finally overtake WinXP in terms of biggest market-share holder.
And even so, at this very moment, that is 6 years after Microsoft terminated retails sales and stopped general licensing of XP for OEM in 2008, 5 years after Microsoft ended mainstream support for it and about 1 month after Extended Support phase expired, the Windows XP is still number 2 in global desktop OS market share, with a stunning 27% current share!

So the really interesting fact about Windows XP isn’t about its life anymore, it is about its complicated ending.
XP is an unprecedented die-hard and planning its removal from the market must have been no easy thing for Microsoft.
Clearly, this OS had to go but because of its enduring popularity this task proves a real challenge.
Stubborn users are still numerous, we’re talking about 400+ Million installations, which is 25% bigger than the entire US population (317 Million, ranked 3-rd in the world) .
To put it in other words, if each of these XP users would spend on upgrade as little as 2.5 USD, the total amount would exceed 1 Billion USD.
So the approach had to be diplomatic in order not to chase such a huge crowd of users away from the Windows family of OS and lose them to the benefit of Linux, for instance.
But the smooth, gentle and step-by-step approach of Microsoft didn’t pay off.
Nor did even the fact that, lacking any support for it, the XP users are literally sitting ducks for the evil-intended.
And IT media is full of scary, apocalyptic scenarios for quite some time now, describing how appealing the huge number of unprotected users must be for hackers all over the world which waited for the end-of-support moment to come and are now ready for the kill.
Analysists struglled to find out explanations for this rather weird mass behaviour in users’ laziness, lack of information, lack of IT skills and even lack financial resources for a bulk upgrade.
But it turned out that such reasons would be responsible for just a small part of still existing XP users.
To their surprise, they discovered that even large Companies (supposedly full of money and having plenty of IT expert personnel) didn’t fully completed upgrades to get safe.
And this seems to apply to governmental sectors as well.
So what to say about small and mid-sized businesses, which seem to be the real problem. Their 25 to 250 computers are lacking proper budget, infrastructure and personnel during times of crises and it makes switching to a newer platform altogether, a really difficult task.
As for individuals, a big part of them consists of users that are simply not willing to spend the money or the efforts for the replacement of their old XP with a safer and better OS (be it Windows-7 or -8 or some Linux distribution like Ubuntu or Mint).
“Why replace something that actually works fine with something else?” seems to be the guiding principle for these cases.
Not to mention the individuals using cracks and for whom the concept of having to pay for software doesn’t exist in the first place.

So what will happen next?
The short answer is: nobody knows.
Some say that XP will slowly dissapear as the hardware on which it is installed will become unbearably obsolete.
There are also voices calling for Microsoft to open-source the XP but this is more like a sci-fi scenario really.
Others are saying that virus infections will eventually force users to abandon XP and consider new OS options.

Anyways, regardless of the way its ending is going to happen, this 54-Million-lines-of-code piece of software named XP surely deserves all its praises, for even if it wasn’t the most powerful, the most invulnerable, the most ‘beautiful’ or some kind of ultimate desktop OS, it surely proved to be the most glorious of them all.

Before finishing the article, please allow for a guilty confession: this article was written on a XP machine.

Bye!

Bogdan

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