back to article Windows XP@20: From the killer of ME to banging out patches for yet another vulnerability

It was on this very day, 20 years ago, that Microsoft released Windows XP to General Availability. Regarded by some as the cockroach of the computing world, in part due to its refusal to die despite the best efforts of Microsoft, XP found its way into the hands of customers on 25 October 2001 and sought to undo the mess …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "a huge leap forward from Windows 9x"

    That is very true.

    Windows 98 SE, as fun as it was, couldn't run more than 24 hours without borking itself. Windows XP, especially in its 3rd edition, was better on that point, even though it took Windows 7 to convince me that Borkzilla could actually write an OS that didn't continually trip over its own feet.

    That said, even with XP I had to reinstall from scratch every now and then, just to have a system that appeared to run smoothly. Between my computers and my friends' computers, I reinstalled XP over 300 times (yes, I counted).

    Windows 7 was a true breath of fresh air on that point.

    1. PRR Silver badge

      Re: "a huge leap forward from Windows 9x"

      > I had to reinstall from scratch every now and then, just to ...,

      > I reinstalled XP over 300 times (yes, I counted).

      What were you doing to the poor thing? My 2002-2015 XP workhorses never gave such troubles (a vast change from W9x). Today I have two special-duty XP machines in regular service. One ran a few years intermittently, then 24/7 for the last 8 years and counting. I should probably clean the CPU fan.... The other was installed by Dell in 2004, used hard by a theater architect, then adopted by a writer and pounded hard. About 2016 the rust was falling off the platters, multiple no-starts. I cloned the old drive to a less-old drive, no other repair or re-installation, it keeps running.

      1. Bodestone

        Re: "a huge leap forward from Windows 9x"

        I agree. XP ran flawlessly for me and all of my familily (barring ELFs - Elderly Lifeform failures).

        Install, disable lego interface for the 2000 look and job was a goodun'

        On 3 machines myself and 3 family members there was never the need for a factory reset.

      2. PRR Silver badge

        Re: "a huge leap forward from Windows 9x"

        > special-duty XP machines in regular service. ...24/7 for the last 8 years and counting. I should probably clean the CPU fan....

        For those following along: last week that CPU fan started SCREEEAMING. Astonishingly loud for a little fan in a little netbook. And netbook so tightly packed that I gave up trying to get the fan out (it's the last of 23 finicky take-out steps, then 23 more chances to bust a tab or ribbon to get it together).

        So don't talk about long-running fans. They can hear you. You will hear them. (Or not, if they choose to jam and cook your CPU.)

        The replacement is a year older (2008) with no moving parts. $24.

  2. bombastic bob Silver badge

    at least in XP you could easily revert to the win 2k interface

    Something Micros~1 used to do, back in the day, is NOT force people to change.

    You could easily see a Win2k menu from the start button if you wanted to.

    It's too bad that Micros~1 does not let us choose an XP APPEARANCE in any version of windows since then.

    (and that goes TRIPLE for the excessively-layered touch-friendly "setings" in Win-10-nic etc.)

    I miss XP. It was always easy to find info and set up devices. All Micros~1 needed to do was keep the kernel and applications patched, NOT re-invent the "user experience".

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: at least in XP you could easily revert to the win 2k interface

      We keep being told that it's an upgraded operating system but the major changes are just the GUI - any well written program that runs on Windows XP still runs fine on all the versions up to Windows 10, these days - although often slightly slower than the original operating system environment.

      The explanation for this environment is that the early Microsoft Windows operating system (not the GUI) evolved from Windows NT, written by Dave Cutler who had developed the DEC RSX11M operating system which is an amazingly functional, real-time, multi-user, operating system that worked extremely well. and hugely better than virtually every other OS in the 70's.

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Re: at least in XP you could easily revert to the win 2k interface

      Rose-tinted glasses!

      "always easy to find info and set up devices" - not at first it wasn't! Once you got a decade of experience it became easy, but when first released it was very troublesome. I guess you can get used to most things.

      That it was 20 years ago makes me feel very old.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: at least in XP you could easily revert to the win 2k interface

        I built a legacy free PC in 2003 with XP.

        It had no floppy drive, SATA drives (2x 150GB drives in ICYdock trays for quick insertion and removal, so I was dual booting Linux and Windows, each on their own drive), DVD.

        Linux installed like a dream. I then tried to install XP and it refused to believe there were any hard drives attached to the PC.

        I borrowed a USB floppy drive, so that I could point Windows at the SATA drivers... It found them, then promptly reset the USB bus before it loaded them and couldn't find the drivers.

        In the end, I went back to the shop where I bought the parts and borrowed an internal floppy drive, just to get Windows XP to install!

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: at least in XP you could easily revert to the win 2k interface

          Not that it matters one jot to you at this point, but ISTR having to slipstream the AHCI/RAID SATA drivers into the XP ISO and then burn it back to DVD in that situation.

        2. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: at least in XP you could easily revert to the win 2k interface

          IIRC there were only a handful of USB floppy drives that would allow you to load drivers during the XP (or Server 2003) install process. I seem to remember one of them being a Sony model.

      2. Bodestone

        Re: at least in XP you could easily revert to the win 2k interface

        It always takes time to adjust to change, I started out on a BBC Micro.

        I remember my first Win 3.11 PC and I had Norton Desktop (before they sold ou to Symantect) installed which gave desktop backgrounds, a workable file manager and disk defragmentationr, all introduced into Win 95.

        I think previously MS have been aware of this aversion which is why Windows became so cluttered with multiple ways of performing actions by Win10. The reluctance to remove legacy options/routes.

        11 has been stripped to the bone in that UI respect and I feel this is a good thing. The accumulated crud is gone and missing features most desired nay return by popular demand after time.

        Back to XP though, It definitely was the biggest back end improvement since W2000 and deserves its place in history.

        Vista was just a pre-pre-alpha version of 7 that was never consumer ready.

        7 was fantastic after the 2nd service pack that fixed the network file transfer issues, among other things.

        8 can please leave my memory at any time.

        10 is solid as a rock but I still use classic shell to skin the start menu,

        11 is not as bad to me as I have read but siome points irk me badly, most I will just re-adjust to.

    3. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: at least in XP you could easily revert to the win 2k interface

      May I have a slice of Classic Mode please! And Adjust for best performance! Check that PageFile! Badda Bing... you're ready to go!

    4. BenDwire Silver badge

      Re: at least in XP you could easily revert to the win 2k interface

      The W2k UI was the best as far as I am concerned. Simple, and got out of the way as soon as the launching was done. I stuck with it until Win7 was retired, at which point I also retired and switched to Debian!

      I still use XP in a VM to support my old (odd) scanner, but the Win10 VM never gets used these days ...

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re:XP in a VM to support my old (odd) scanner,

        I got my 2002 Epson scanner bought for XP working direct on Linux Mint 20.1, SANE and GIMP. A rather more serious PCI SCSI adaptor than it originally had.

        But I imaged my 2002 XP laptop using the MS utility and run that as a VM from a USB HDD using OpenBox on Linux Mint 20.1 on a 2016 laptop. Hardly used it more than once or twice a year.

    5. big_D Silver badge

      Re: at least in XP you could easily revert to the win 2k interface

      Thumbs up for the XP could look like 2000.

      But Micros~1 made Fisher Price tech hip with the XP look and feel. One of the reasons I never felt comfortable using it.

      1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

        Re: at least in XP you could easily revert to the win 2k interface

        "But Micros~1 made Fisher Price tech hip with the XP look and feel. "

        ISTR people referred to it as the Crayola Interface.

        I stuck with Win2k until I got a new box in 2013 and put Server 2012 on it. I still miss the stark simplicity of Win2k.

        1. Bodestone

          Re: at least in XP you could easily revert to the win 2k interface

          You can still get that in 10 with windows options and overlays such as classic shell. OK I mentioned it twice but just because it's the one I use and I haven't tried the others. I think it is called open shell now but it works for me in 10 and keeps my Dad happy that it looks similar to what he was used to.

          Still a bit twitchy in 11 but I expect it will get there.

          OK so 10 does not have the 3d button look on the taskbar but it is slill clean and clear.

          My biggest gripe about 11 is the inability to ungroup taskbar icons.

          1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

            Re: at least in XP you could easily revert to the win 2k interface

            I haven't looked at 11 yet, no interest. From what I've read, though, it just going to make me cuss non-stop every minute of the day. I'm hoping MS doesn't transfer that stupidity to Server - maybe I can hide out there for a few years.

            I've looked at Classic Shell in the past, but never switched to it full time. I can't remember why. I just managed to make do with Explorer, and once I learned enough executable names for the Run box and figured out how to create some special short-cuts on the desktop, I wasn't as reliant on the Start menu. Actually, I rarely ever use it now on Win10, other than maybe right after I install new software. But I've got a desktop full of shortcuts, and a brain full of commands, so I make do.

            Life was so much easier prior to Windows 8...

            1. phuzz Silver badge

              Re: at least in XP you could easily revert to the win 2k interface

              In Win 8 (I think, or maybe 7 as well?) and upwards you can just hit the Start key and start typing, and it will search the start menu for you. Much easier than remembering the executable names and using Run.

              1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

                Re: at least in XP you could easily revert to the win 2k interface

                I use that sometimes. Mostly when I have to restart MS Teams, as it's quicker than scrolling down to it. But a lot of stuff, mostly control panel stuff like ncpa.cpl, doesn't show up there, and other stuff like "dsa.msc" are just as easy to run as to wait for the search, especially since the Run box has history.

        2. Mage Silver badge

          Re: miss the stark simplicity of Win2k.

          Linux Mint 20.1, Mate desktop and a mix of Linux Theme components gives better than Win9x/win2K/XP GUI and easier use than Vista, Win7, Win 8, Win10. More reliable too. It looks Win9x/win2K/XP style apart from arrogantly written SW (Chromium, Firefox etc) that ignores the system GUI.

    6. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

      Re: at least in XP you could easily revert to the win 2k interface

      Yo Bob

      You forgot the .sht extension.

      1. TimMaher Silver badge

        Re: at least in XP you could easily revert to the win 2k interface

        That’s because file extensions are hidden by default.

    7. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: at least in XP you could easily revert to the win 2k interface

      It's all the same theming code under the hood so I don't see why new Windows GUIs weren't just one more theme pack added with each new major release.

      See also: Firefox.

    8. Mage Silver badge

      Re: win 2k interface

      Why no mention that Windows 2000 was NT 5.0 and XP was the finished version as Win2K wasn't ready, it and totally pointless ME were rushed out.

      I re-installed/installed Windows 98SE on a lot of Win ME boxes. ME was the most pointless Windows version in the Win9x series.

      XP is NT 5.1 and should have been free to Win2K users, as indeed Win7 was simply a fixed version of Visa and should have been free to Vista users.

      MS lost the plot about 2002 or 2003.

      XP was spoiled by a lot of badly written commercial SW ignoring security model that was ported Win 3.x -> Win 9x -> Windows 2K & Win XP. Hence people having to be administrator to run it.

      Settings started to get a messed up GUI with Management Console added, but buggy, some settings in NT4.0 gratuitously moved and irrational changes to Control Panel. Progressively worse with Vista, Win7, Win 8.x (stupidest ever desktop) and Win 10 (most inflexible GUI/Theme ever).

      Then after Win 2000 there are too many OS versions, crippled Home Editions starting with XP.

      Was Itanium XP 64 bit or 64 bit Alpha NT 4.0 the shortest supported version ever?

      Also with XP 32 bit they removed PAE and by default limited programs to 2G Byte. NT 4.0 could use PAE to have more than 4G Byte RAM.

      Was there too much involvement of MS programmers that didn't know NT from 3.1 to 4.0 and too much Marketing control from 1999 onwards, hence pointless Win ME, rushed out Win2K, crippled Home Editions, Vista, Win 8 and Win 10?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    XP was peak Windows for me

    It's all been downhill since!

    That's probably why I've switched to Linux.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still deploying it - not kidding!

    OK, so ‘deploying’ may be a slight stretch. We still use XP w/SP3 on very old, non-network connected PCs to test add-on card hardware. We’re running out of PCs/mainboards with the right XP-era bus device drivers, though. The end is *almost* nigh.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Still deploying it - not kidding!

      I still have both w2k and XP, and Win7, all in use as VMs for the odd windows-only CAD software, etc. That way no major issues of hardware failing and finding you can't reinstall or active (spits!!!) windows again.

      If you can set up a clean VM from scratch do it, than keep a copy and add whatever you want afterwards. You can also disable network access (and probably only allow local, etc, as needed) and run it on your choice of stable & supported OS be it Linux or Windows 10.

      VMware used to have a physical to virtual conversion utility that I used to salvage my w2k machine when it has a bulging capacitors of death motherboard, handy for something messy you just can't re-install (or it needs DRM keys from now demised companies).

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re:physical to virtual conversion

        This works to image even computers with UEFI, as long as Windows uses classic bios boot option in BIOS.

        Works for XP.

        Needed to turn off Shadow Volume copy and tick a 3rd box not on screen shot. Created file worked with Oracle OpenBox on Linux when put in a subdirectory offered to the VM GUI. Install Guest Utils to get a better 3D GPU, 1 Gbps LAN, USB etc than original laptop.

        XP Serial ports mapped to serial USB on Linux.

        XP USB webcam unsupported by Linux worked via existing XP driver and mapped USB ports.

        External USB DVD on Linux working as XP DVD.

    2. Dave K

      Re: Still deploying it - not kidding!

      Yep, I maintain a couple of XP machines for my wife's university lab. They run XP due to interfacing with an old but expensive motion tracking system. Obviously they're off the network, however it is amusing that she's now dealing with students that weren't even born when XP was released!

    3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: Still deploying it - not kidding!

      I run an XP VM under Linux when I need to run Windows software which won't play well with WINE. It's handy to have, but I prefer Linux.

      I'm lucky to have an old enterprise install disk from a previous employer, which also has an old version of Office (not that that's much help with newer documents).

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still deploying it - not kidding!

      We've still got 2 XP VMs in active use, sadly. Running ancient custom imaging software that's too difficult to move to a newer OS (or maybe nobody still living knows how). We've restricted network access somewhat, but they're still on the network. But hey, not my problem, I'm the network admin, not the crusty-old-software admin - that's the Director's job (and neck).

      1. BenDwire Silver badge

        Re: Still deploying it - not kidding!

        To the best of my knowledge my last company still has several W2k VM's in active use! I came up with that kludge in order to keep an old database application going while a replacement was sought, but the sales team could never decide what they actually wanted...

  5. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    The design decision

    I've never understood is m$ moving away from the 'classic' windows interface design

    I made sure winxp and win 7 had that switched on because it was nice, and it worked (plus people were familier with it)

    Also you could find the settings on the start menu in order to tweak your computer... and if you wanted 'advanced' settings there was usually a button on the dialog to get your there

    Win 8 and 10 interfaces.. a huge step backwards... find the settings for the FIFO RS232 uart buffer......... arggle

    why didnt m$ just update 'under the hood' and keep the interface?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I've never understood is m$ moving away from the 'classic' windows interface design"

      It's simple. Because everybody kept and keep on telling Apple UI is better - with its translucent buttons and rounded corners.

      It is true MS should have not bothered.

  6. Rob Daglish

    I remember my last install…

    Like it was only yesterday. Mainly because it was, on a virtual machine to run some DOS based practice management software for an optician!

    It was a very quick, easy install, and much more pleasant than the 8 hours trying to get SQLExpress to work so Veeam would play nicely.

  7. Ne body

    Windows 2000 was the highwater mark in MS mis-operating systems, it's been downhill ever since. After Windows 2000 I switched to FreeBSD (and macOS to run the very occasional Windows 2000, 7, and 10 VM).

  8. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    What can Win 11 do better today??

    I'll wager over 90% of the productivity I do today could be done with WinXP + OfficeXP. Yeah, yeah, they made the current stuff more stable and crash resistant. But the bell curve of what happens today - email, word processing, spreadsheets, web browsing, etc - was all be done just fine on XP.

    Oh, wait. My bad. No way XP could accommodate the bloatware and post-sale user monetization that Win10 ushered in.

  9. ecofeco Silver badge

    XP IP stack

    I do not miss that unholy shibboleth.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: XP IP stack

      Microsoft must have been the last software maker to understand the IP stack.

      I have not-so-fond memories of having to install Trumpet Winsock and the like, to get networking on early versions of Windows, when Linux had networking pretty much from the get go.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: XP IP stack

        Pre XP Networking

        Just used to install the Netware client from a floppy.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Pirate Dave Silver badge

        Re: XP IP stack

        "Microsoft must have been the last software maker to understand the IP stack."

        They were probably convinced world+dog would adopt NetBEUI once they saw the awesome potential of the protocol. IP was for greybeards and spooks.

      4. Mage Silver badge

        Re: XP IP stack

        MS 32 bit TCP-IP on WFWG 3.11 was fine. No need for Trumpet.

        So was NT 3.5 to XP. But you needed a separate firewall / router. Not secure.

  10. Floating Sinker

    Format C: /v:Win98_sux

    ...every 4 months as it degraded from minty new install to slow glitchy mess with random weirdness.

    Windows XP finally removed this dearly missed Windows9x/ME feature.

  11. Pete 2 Silver badge

    OS development stalled?

    Is this a common trait among operating systems, these days?

    That all they amount to is either bug fixes / support for new hardware or attempts to monetise their victims users even more?

    If OS's were evaluated on the basis of what a new release would allow users to do, that they could not do in the previous release, would we find any real improvement over the past 5 years? Or 10 ... 20, possibly?

  12. LenG

    The interface is not the OS

    This is one of the things Linux has over windoze or, come to that. IOS. You can choose from any number of desktop appearances/user interfaces without affecting the underlying functionality. Come to that, you can also choose from a number of different file systems depending on your workload.

    A major problem with M$ is the "our way or the highway" attitude. When I first installed Win 10 I was immediately struck by the fact that all the taskbars were white. This is a real pain if you generally work with a lot of open windows. Even to this day although you can set the active window titlebar through the settings thing (or possibly the control panel) you can only set the inactive title bars via a registry hack. Actually, there is a significant amount of customisation possible if you are willing to hack the registry but how many people can be bothered with that and even if they can it is often very difficult to find out what needs to be changed.

    1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

      Re: The interface is not the OS

      One thing I noticed in Server 2019 is that the window manager no longer draws a border around non-maximized windows, so if you have multiple windows open, and they're pulled up near the top of the screen, it's impossible to differentiate their title bars to know where to click to drag - it turns into just a big white area.

  13. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

    A trip down memory lane.

    Once we got ourselves sorted with MS-DOS and managed to get things working, and with Novell Netware drivers consuming as little memory as possible, Windows 3.1/3.11 arrived.

    We adjusted to the "new shiny" and life went on.

    Then 95 was released. The first iterations was a slow as molasses and took ages to boot. And woe betide you if 95 did a critical disk write and power failure happened.

    We got to grips with 95 and sorted things out.

    Same with 98. It was a bit better than 95, but had its own quirks.

    Then ME arrived. Some say it was buggy, some say it was fine. Whatever. Meh. I did not like it due to the absence of a command-line, especially when you need to aim a well-deserved kick at its gubbins to get some stuck bone loose.

    Then WindowsNT4 came. First iteration barfed all over the place, and it took a couple of Service Packs to get it up to standard. NT4 with SP6 was stable and did what you wanted it to do. No extra frills and the such.

    Windows2000 took a bit longer than NT to boot, but it got better graphics. To this day I prefer to have a Win2000 VM above an NT4 VM as the UI feels a bit complete.

    Windows2000 with SP4 was good, nice and stable.

    Then XP came out. Took my first look at it, and was reminded of eyecandy. We used to disable most of the eyecandy to make it perform a bit better.

    XP with SP3 was good. It was the last Windows to use a CLI installer (with the exception of 95/98/ME)

    Vista - the less said, the better. I had the fortunate opportunity to have 6 Gigabyte laptops with Vista preinstalled - and strangely enough, these was rock-solid. No bluescreens as others reported their Vistas of doing.

    Windows 7 then knocked on the door for its turn. I found that on some hardware Win7 outperformed XP. On others XP outperformed WIn7.

    The abortion that was WIndows 8 shall be glossed over with Windows 8.1 - but it was to be short-lived when Windows 9... errr... Windows 10 was released.

    Most of the issues with Windows 10 have been sorted out by now, yet M$ still insists on releasing "features" and "products" that knocks something silly in Windows 10 and make you lose your files and other whatnots.

    Windows 11? Nah, will give it a bit of time and see what happens.

    1. Sudosu Bronze badge

      I always found that with NT4 (both server and workstation) I had to do a few installs on a hardware platform to get one that worked correctly,

      I would then image the good install and use it as my install for other machines, or reinstall on the same one.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    Think I will wait for Windows 12.

    In the meantime, I will stick with Windows 10

    1. John_3_16
      Thumb Up

      Anonymous Coward

      I have an old machine still used for games that runs CPM & loads from floppies or cassettes. Two other machines running W98 & XP3. I have an older laptop that boots using DOS6 disk. And this laptop using Win7 fully updated till the last day. Thank goodness for the hacks that made/make that possible. I also dabble with Linux since that will be my next OS after Win7 breathes it's last for me.

      Not interested in what the newest Win?? has to offer. Life is too short & I am too old. Less stress the better. Kind of like being married & divorced too many times. Just reach a point where it is not worth it any longer.

      Think I am good through 2025++ then we will see.

  15. Oldgroaner
    Thumb Up

    I've a couple of airgapped XP boxes which were updated until 2029 by the POS ready dodge. They're there to run Quicken 2004, never found a better substitute for that. For my modest computing needs (electronic typewriter and filing cabinet) XP was ideal, reliable and stable.

    1. Jusme

      > They're there to run Quicken 2004, never found a better substitute for that

      gnucash does a fair job, I think it was written to emulate the original Quicken, before it became cr@pware. It can (or at least could) import your Quicken data.

  16. Flightmode

    That headline... it's from a Linkin Park song, right?

  17. Blackjack Silver badge

    My favorite Windows besides Windows 98 SE and SE was my favourite mostly due to using it to play old games. Then Dosbox happened and Windows XP became my main gaming machine.

    I still use a VM of it for some stuff, mostly games and Flash.

  18. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    I still use XP!

  19. Wokstation

    I still kept it dual booted

    With 98SE for those games that didn't like like it so much. 98 didn't get used that much in the end!

    I remember too that it came with online activation, a fair novelty then.

  20. Lorribot

    We need a proper plan for the future and Windows 11 isn't it...

    Windows 2000 was the peak of NT4, after that the crud of Win95 and consumer support for all stuff no one uses but needs to be in there just in case started the overwhelming slide in to resorce races, XP, Vista, Windows 7, 8, 10 and 11 all are just build on the shoulders of bad design and bad ideas that do nothing to really fix the underlying problems. Windows 10 did at least do some major clean up of the OS but then brought its own rubbish in an effort to keep up with Apple and Google tracking and monitoring.

    It would be nice to have proper 64 bit processors and proper 64 bit (only) OS to go on it with out all that legacy support cruft dragging it down. Apple have manged it with Mac OSX all be it with a smaller user base.

    One of the many flavours of Linux may be the answer for some but it's still mostly on X86 architecture and is not really suitable for everyone and involves too many choices, most of which are not understood sufficiently (if at all) by the majority of ordinary (PCWorld type) users to be able to make any kind of decision let alone an informed one.

    1. Adair Silver badge

      Re: We need a proper plan for the future and Windows 11 isn't it...

      '...Windows may be the answer for some but it's still mostly on X86 architecture and is not really suitable for everyone and involves too many choices, most of which are not understood sufficiently (if at all) by the majority of ordinary (PCWorld type) users to be able to make any kind of decision let alone an informed one.'

      The truth is that the statement above is true for anyone who belongs to the 'PCWorld type' groupset. The only proviso is 'which OS did they learn first'? - because sure as eggs are eggs they will expect and rely on anything else having to be the same. And even then it will be enough to know where the power switch is, and how to activate their goto apps.

      These are people who have no interest in IT. For them a computer is an appliance - you turn it on, do what you do, then go and do other things. What goes on inside the box, or behind what appears on the screen might as well be magic. And they really don't care, and why should they. They probably have no idea what goes on under the bonnet of their car.

      IT people of a certain bent may fret about which OS is 'best', for whatever value of 'best' is in question, but for the vast majority of people this isn't even a question. They know what they know. They don't know much, and when it comes to IT they want to know as little as possible. They just want the bloody thing to 'work' so they can do the things they are interested in doing/have to do: watching cat videos, sharing narcissistic poses of the lives they aren't living, writing scorching tweets, sending the whole office a foul mouthed rant about the boss they never intended to send to anyone, and writing entropic presentations that cause people to lose the will to live.

      Bring back the CLI!

  21. phuzz Silver badge
    IT Angle

    I'm still surprised at how many fellow geeks learn a particular GUI, and after that, do anything they can to alter every subsequent OS to look like it.

    By the time XP came out I'd already progressed through half a dozen different OS's on different architectures, so I cursed at all the things that were "obviously wrong", then gradually learnt it's idiosyncrasies and got used to it.

    Too used to it, because the next time I had to use a different OS (maybe OSX?) I cursed it's differences, but yet again, I learnt my way around it and got on with things. And so on and so forth through all the subsequent versions of Windows, OSX, and sundry Linux desktop environments, I got annoyed when they did things differently, but I learnt them, and used them to do more interesting things.

    XP was no better or worse than Win 10 (or 7 or 8 or...etc), or rather, it does some things better, some worse. You just have to be able to adapt to using different software, which is surely a skill everyone in IT should have?

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