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Windows-xp-bootscreen

Windows XP still lives on...

It has been two years now since Microsoft cut the life support for Windows XP, meaning users of the OS will no longer receive security updates; therefore, if you're still running it and you get a virus or malware, you're on your own.

Nevertheless, Windows XP was a huge success when it was released on 24 August 2001. It introduced a lot of new features and improved upon existing ones. And it still lives on - fifteen years after it was released.

Wait, are people seriously still running Windows XP?

Apparently. According to Netmarketshare, as of March 2016 Windows XP still has a grip on 10.9% of the desktop OS market. To put that into perspective OS X 10.11 El Capitan only holds 4.05% of the market, and Windows 8.1 only 9.56%. Windows 10, which saw a big jump to overtake XP in February, is marginally more popular with 14.15% of users. Overall though, Windows 7 still dominates the desktop OS market with 51.89% of the user base.

If you are still running Windows XP, now would be a good time to upgrade your personal computer to at least Windows 7. By running Windows XP after extended support was ended in April 2014, you are putting yourself at risk of viruses, malware, security exploits, etc.

Why are people still using Windows XP?

Businesses and home users simply didn't want to replace PCs that were doing what they needed to do, even after the poorly received Windows Vista was released. On top of that, there are gamers who need Windows XP for compatibility purposes. Apparently South Koreans were using XP to run IE6 for the ActiveX plugin - all just to shop online.

Why is Windows XP so popular?

The huge success of XP was due to multiple factors - largely, it was a matter of timing. It was a significant improvement over Windows ME.

Windows NT logo

Apart from timing, there were other factors:

  • Windows XP was the first consumer version of Windows to use the NT kernel, which is what nowadays powers everything: from Windows 10 to Xbox One. Previously, Windows was based on an MS-DOS kernel. This meant that people could use the same interface at home and at work, and get more comfortable with it. On top of that, using the NT kernel gave XP a multitude of advantages, from multi-threading to better memory management. Windows XP is the OS that made it possible to move from 32-bit to 64-bit processors.
  • Windows XP had huge numbers of features, from the ClearType font smoothing technology to improvements to the existing Windows Explorer file manager. Windows XP could support multiple languages - also a huge milestone.
  • Bliss - a background of a green hillside in Napa, California - was one of the most distinctive features of a new user interface designed to be friendly.
  • If you didn't like Bliss, you didn't have to pay up to purchase and use another theme.

Sources

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