Microsoft Windows XP: 10 Years Old but Still Matters

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2012-03-01

Microsoft Windows XP: 10 Years Old but Still Matters

Microsoft Windows XP. You remember the operating system, right? It€™s the one that Microsoft launched in 2001 with high hopes of improving security and productivity across the consumer and enterprise markets. Although it got off to a bit of a rough start, with some help from a couple service packs, the operating system quickly became a favorite of people around the globe. Windows XP became such a popular operating system, in fact, that more than 10 years later, it€™s still the world€™s top operating system with 45 percent market share, according to NetApplications.

Such success is surprising in the technology space. Companies like Apple and Google need to launch new products every year to keep customers interested. But Microsoft has found a way to maintain sales even as the product ages. It€™s perhaps a testament to Windows XP€™s quality and Microsoft€™s unique ability to become a must-have partner for people and companies around the world.

But how did this happen? Why is Windows XP still so important to so many? Is it the product€™s design? Is it the affordability factor? Why does Windows XP still matter?

1. The enterprise is still using it

The enterprise is the most important stakeholder when it comes to Windows adoption. If the corporate world likes a respective operating system, it€™ll adopt it in droves. If it doesn€™t, it€™ll ignore the software. In XP€™s case, the enterprise adored the software. And in many instances, companies are still using it. Until that changes, Windows XP will still matter.

2. It€™s all about compatibility

Following that, it€™s important to point out that companies across the globe have spent serious cash on software and accessories that work with XP. Unfortunately, many of them might not work with other, newer operating systems. Windows XP mode in Windows 7 is a good start, for most companies, sticking with the single operating system that supports everything is important.

3. Consider emerging markets

Although many consumers are buying Windows 7-based devices, folks in emerging markets are getting into the PC game with Windows XP. The nice thing about Windows XP-based devices is that they€™re affordable and can work well on less-powerful computers. That€™s extremely important when it comes to XP adoption in emerging markets.

4. The economy plays a role

With the economy still struggling to make a comeback, many consumers just aren€™t interested in buying new computers. So, they€™re taking extra care of their old XP machines and making sure it lasts until they can invest in a new PC. Until that changes, don€™t expect XP to lose ground to other operating systems.

Windows XP Is Still Solid, More Secure Than Ever


5. Blame it on Vista

Windows Vista is probably the biggest reason Windows XP is still so popular. Windows Vista was supposed to be the operating system that would make XP look obsolete. Instead, it was the operating system that made customers wonder if Microsoft could address corporate concerns into the future. Those who were concerned stuck with XP.

6. Vendors kept it going

At the same time Windows Vista was losing ground, PC vendors allowed customers to use their €œdowngrade rights€ and get a PC running XP. That was immensely harmful to Vista and helped improve XP adoption. Although getting XP-based machines is much harder now, it€™s not impossible. And that€™s something to keep in mind as we consider why XP is so popular.

7. Microsoft was loath to say good-bye

Microsoft tried several times to move XP aside, but after accepting Vista€™s fate, the company started to embrace the fact that it had delivered an operating system in XP that people really wanted. The software giant even launched Service Pack 3 to improve the operating system just a bit more. Microsoft legitimized XP, and that only helped the operating system€™s adoption figures.

8. It€™s still solid

The funny thing about Windows XP is that if you boot up a machine running the software, it€™s still solid. In fact, it delivers the kind of experience that, while a little outdated, most folks would be happy to find on a PC. With Windows 8 looming, the old Windows XP style is dying off, but those who don€™t want to see that happen can stick with XP for as long as their computers will let them.

9. It€™s more secure than ever

OK, so Windows XP and "secure" didn€™t always go together. In fact, the operating system wasn€™t secure at all until Service Pack 2 launched. But now that cyber-criminals have turned their attention elsewhere, and thanks to help from Service Pack 3, the operating system is actually more secure than ever. Who would have thought that could happen?

10. Support lingers for years

If Microsoft really wanted to do away with Windows XP once and for all, the company would have ended all support for the operating system. Instead, Microsoft has said that it will provide support into 2014. If users know Microsoft will support the operating system, why should they even worry about ditching it?

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