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Lifestyles

October 23, 2010

XP, the king of operating systems, is now officially dead

If you were listening really, really hard yesterday, you may have heard the "last call" for Windows XP. Yes folks, as of Oct. 22, 2010, Windows XP is now no longer officially sold by Microsoft.

Dell, HP and all the other manufacturers, who have been selling new computers pre-installed with XP via the "downgrade rights" of some of the higher-end Windows 7 licenses have stopped that practice, too.

Of course, it's been quite a while since you could get Windows XP on a new computer at the consumer stores anyway, but business-oriented computer dealers have been selling it regularly right up until very recently.

There are a couple reasons that businesses still bought XP. For one thing, it's easier when your whole business uses the same operating system.

For another thing, there are still a few line-of-business programs out there that have problems with Vista and Windows 7.

On XP, they work fine.

For a business to change those kind of programs can be expensive, really expensive.

So. Let's reflect a moment about our old friend, XP.

What's next? Well, if you're an XP user, Microsoft will still be putting out Windows updates for you until the absolute end-of-support date, April 8, 2014. After that, if you're still using XP, you'll be part of computing history.

Speaking historically, Windows XP has been, and still is, the world's most popular operating system. Its market share peaked in January 2007 with 76 percent.

Think about that. Three-quarters of all the computers in the world ran Windows XP.

Even just last month, now being a "grandfather" operating system (two operating system generations old) it still had a 51 percent market share.

Although it has been superseded by new and improved versions, many people still want to use it. It just seems to fit like an old slipper. You already know how to run it, and it feels comfortable. It seems to do the job, so why change?

These reasons are good reasons for not updating to a newer system. However, when you're Microsoft, the customer isn't always right. Microsoft is big enough to be able to do whatever it wants.

And it wants its new versions of software out there in the market. As Mel Brooks once said, "It's good to be the king."

But to be fair to Microsoft, there are a lot of warts on the face of XP.

It is definitely not as secure as Windows 7. If you've used it, you know that Windows 7 is more persnickety about letting just anybody run just any old program, and it lets you know if you try to run or install a program that is going to change your computer. This is a good thing, actually.

Windows XP was, and still is, pretty liberal about running programs.

That's one of the big reasons that there is so much malware in the world.

And I think that anything that will help stop the spread of malicious software is a step in the right direction.

Malware is the scourge of computing.

It's what makes crooks rich, and now it looks like it's beginning to become another way for terrorists to do their things. And it's getting worse every day.

So I think that if a newer mainstream operating system is better on that front, that's a pretty strong reason to endorse it, and consider updating.

Of course, there are other, even better operating system solutions out there when it comes to preventing malware.

That's a whole 'nother thing, though. We're talking about mainstream here.

Were talking about Windows, whether we like it or not.

So, Windows XP, the king of operating systems, is dead.

Long live the king.

Bruce Endries is former systems manager at The Daily Star. He can be reached by e-mail at techgp@dailystarmail.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/techgp.

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