10 Reasons Windows XP Served PC Users Well for More Than a Decade

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2014-04-08 Print this article Print

The clock has officially run out on Windows XP. The operating system, which launched in 2001 and retained PC users' loyalty through three service packs, countless malware threats and obligatory security updates, is now retired, at least as far as Microsoft is concerned. But it's going down in computer history as the most enduring Windows version to date, and it's likely many PC users and devices will continue to run it for years to come. The operating system was supposed to have been put out to pasture years ago. But a combination of its popularity, the surprising reliability of aging PCs and laptops that keep running XP, and the distaste users had for succeeding Windows editions such as Vista convinced many PC buyers that there was no urgent need to retire XP. This forced Microsoft to keep supporting XP far beyond what it would have liked for one if its operating systems. But finally, after more than a decade, Microsoft has decided to end support for the operating system. Years from now, Windows XP will likely be remembered as the operating system that defined personal computing in the early 2000s. And it might just prove to be the last broadly successful desktop operating system, as cloud computing and mobile operating systems continue to bear down on the PC space. This eWEEK slide show takes a look at why PC users stuck with Windows XP.

  • 10 Reasons Windows XP Served PC Users Well for More Than a Decade

    By Don Reisinger
    10 Reasons Windows XP Served PC Users Well for More Than a Decade
  • It Worked Well for Enterprise Users

    The enterprise benefited greatly from Windows XP. The operating system provided the right balance of features and usability to maximize user productivity, and thanks to its longevity, companies were able to keep the operating system in employee hands for more than a decade, only further improving employee comfort with the software. XP was a business-first operating system in its design and functionality. And that worked out well for all parties involved.
    It Worked Well for Enterprise Users
  • The Same Experience at Work and Home

    One of the keys to Windows XP's success over the years has been its ability to deliver the same experience at home and work. Folks who used the operating system in the office went home, got the Home version and realized that it worked just the same as it did in the office. That helped buoy usage and PC sales, and it kept XP at the top for so long.
    The Same Experience at Work and Home
  • Vendors Thought Highly of Windows XP

    PC users were able to take advantage of XP's many fine features because vendors saw real value in the operating system. PC makers bundled XP with every computer they sold until Vista launched, and then when that operating system took a nosedive, they went back to XP. Although vendors often loaded XP down with "bloatware," software that was made available out of the box and not necessarily desirable, they also built devices that took full advantage of the operating system. And that only helped users and XP.
    Vendors Thought Highly of Windows XP
  • The Service Packs Were Important

    Out of the box, Windows XP was a security mess. But over time, as Microsoft started offering service packs, the experience got better and better. In fact, after Service Pack 2, it could be argued that the operating system was a worthy purchase for any computer buyer. Service Pack 3 just added more quality features to round out the software. If not for the service packs, Windows XP wouldn't have been so popular.
    The Service Packs Were Important
  • Flexibility Across Computing Devices

    One of the great things about XP is that it was capable of working across different form factors. So, while it might have been designed for the desktops and laptops, it also performed well on netbooks, old stylus-based tablets and even handheld products. Windows XP was truly flexible for device makers.
    Flexibility Across Computing Devices
  • Flexibility Across Markets

    While XP was flexible for device makers, it was also flexible across markets. Whether it was an emerging area of the world or developed countries, XP was able to satisfy customers, regardless of their needs. Few operating systems can achieve such a feat, but XP did just that. And its popularity around the world today proves just how important a feat that was.
    Flexibility Across Markets
  • Flexibility Across Applications

    The interesting thing about Windows XP is that it was also extremely capable at hiding beneath the surface of software on nontraditional products. For instance, Windows XP is still running on the vast majority of ATM machines around the world, acting as the standard for cash transactions. Windows XP was truly the first major operating system to span industries, markets and walled gardens. Its impact can be felt in a multitude of places.
    Flexibility Across Applications
  • Developers Universally Embraced Windows XP

    Software was the key to Windows XP's success over the years. As more and more people adopted XP, developers flocked to the operating system. That meant any and all apps supported the platform, and consumers and enterprise users all then needed XP to get work done, play games or do just about anything else in computing. All of those apps made Windows XP a must-have.
    Developers Universally Embraced Windows XP
  • Windows Vista Couldn't Cut Muster

    So, why did Windows XP serve users well for so long? Blame it on Windows Vista. Windows XP was supposed to die after Windows Vista came around. But after users discovered that Vista wasn't as secure as it should be, came with annoying features like user account control and generally didn't work as well on older computers as XP, just about everyone went back to its predecessor.
    Windows Vista Couldn't Cut Muster
  • The Right OS at the Right Time

    Windows XP was the operating system that brought millions, and perhaps even over a billion, people into the computing business. While Windows 95 and Windows 98 popularized personal computing, XP was the platform users sunk their teeth into and started to rely heavily on for all aspects of their lives. XP was also the operating system that brought computing to markets that had previously not had computers. If Windows 95 popularized computing, Windows XP made it an absolute necessity in everyone's life. It was the right operating system for the time.
    The Right OS at the Right Time
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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