It's been 10 years since Microsoft released Windows XP to the world, and it's proved one of the company's most popular and enduring pieces of code.
A generation of computer users have grown up with Windows XP as their main computing experience, which might explain why so many people are turning to open source code.
Before you think this is just going to turn into a Microsoft hatefest let's set the record straight. Shaun and I don't hate XP; in fact when we considered doing a list on the top 10 worst things about it we couldn't find enough, so this turned into a best and worst list.
No doubt we've missed a few things. As ever, let us know what you think.
Honourable Mention: Familiarity
Shaun Nichols: There are still plenty of people using Windows XP boxes these days. Some use them because of the modest hardware requirements, others because they rely on legacy software. But if you ask most XP users why they haven't upgraded, they will simply shrug and tell you they're used to it.
The PC world moves at a breakneck speed; think dog years and multiply it by four. So for most people, 10 years is akin to a lifetime. Think about the way you used your PC in 2001 and compare it to the things you do now. When you really think about it, many people "grew up" as computer users on Windows XP.
Familiarity is a powerful driver, and it's one area where Microsoft may have really hurt itself. Engineers and marketers may like to brag about the radical updates and redesigns in Windows 7 and Vista, but people don't always like to get rid of what they know and trust.
Iain Thomson: Windows XP has had a long time at the top, and its very familiarity is one of the reasons so many people were loathe to change. Well, that and the fact that Vista was appallingly bad.
I've found this out the hard way. After using XP for most of the past decade I found the switch to Windows 7 rather tricky. There's an XP mode, of course, but what's the point of getting a new operating system if you're not going to learn how to use it?
However, not everyone likes this familiarity, particularly some of the folks at Microsoft. You can see it in their eyes when you use an XP system in front of them. Despite the undoubted plusses of Windows 7, there are still a lot of people who know what they like and like what they know.
5. CD-R/RW support
Shaun Nichols: Now that optical storage is starting to go the way of the slide rule and corded phone, we've taken the huge advances it brought for granted.
Think back, if you will, to the days of the 1.4MB floppy drive. I'm sure many people had the same long, plastic container in their desk drawer which held dozens of floppy disks, likely flanked by another box of blanks which seemingly had to be replaced every few weeks.
Larger-capacity formats were expensive and their proprietary nature meant there was a good chance the disk wouldn't be usable with the computer to which you wanted to transport the disk.
Then the CD-R and CD-RW formats came about. Suddenly all your documents could fit onto one disk and your most important data could easily be backed up. Windows XP simplified this process and introduced a great many people to the benefits of writable CDs.
Iain Thomson: When I suggested this Shaun looked scornful. "You must have been able to use CD-Roms before XP," he said.
It's true, you could, just not very easily. Reading the damned things was fine, it was writing to them that was the pain. XP made significant strides in opening up the usefulness of CD formats to the normal user, and more than a few of us have a few carousels of unmarked discs hidden away in the attic.
Microsoft came late to the party, to be sure. Apple dumped the disc drive with the iMac back in the 20th century, although it bet on the internet rather than CDs to spread data. Apple was a few years ahead of the curve, but the ease with which XP dealt with CDs carried us over Steve Jobs's ambitions.
XP killed the floppy, and good riddance, but opened up new archiving possibilities for the mass market.
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