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One of the 37.7 percent: My XPerience with XP

We recently wrote about the government's situation in regards to Microsoft Windows XP, support for which is scheduled to end in April next year. Microsoft says that if agencies haven't started migrating over to a new operating system,  that they are now behind the curve. That's because it sometimes takes 18 months to roll over to a new OS, especially for a large agency.

This all served to remind me about my own experience with Windows XP. I recently wrote about how much I loved the OS because of its stability and reliability. In fact, I was one of those holdouts, the ones that make up 37.7 percent of the global market who have refused to give up on XP.

I realize that a lot of people have stuck with XP for economic reasons. But for others like me, it was more a matter of simply knowing the OS from front to back. I see operating systems as a means to an end. They are there to help launch other programs, so they have little value on their own. I knew XP. It worked fine. Upgrading is always a bit of a pain. So why bother?

For me, upgrading came out of a clear blue sky, because I came home one day to find a blue screen of death on my XP system. Since then I've done some forensic analysis and found that there was a total system meltdown, enough to fry memory and wipe hard drives, yet no surge was detected by the equipment monitoring for such things. All I can figure is that some internal component on the machine went bad, and triggered a surge inside the box, thus bypassing the surge protection outside. No other system in the network was affected. So it’s a bit of a mystery. But I don't blame XP.

Given that I was starting over from scratch with a new system, I wasn't going back to the old OS. My new system runs Windows 7. While I was familiar with the OS from my reviews and lab work, this is the first time I've worked with it every single day. And after a couple months, I can see how it's leaps and bounds ahead of XP. In fact, I wonder why I didn't upgrade sooner.

Yes, an OS is there to launch other programs, but Windows 7 handles this so much better than XP did or could. I've now got frequently used programs pinned to the bottom task bar. I use Windows Live mail to merge and manage all of my e-mail accounts into one large, efficient e-mail command center. Internet Explorer 10 is fast and responsive, and updates itself automatically like Firefox, so I'm never out of the loop or behind on patches. And I have access to DirectX 10 graphics, so many of the programs I launch with the new OS are themselves made better.

I still think that XP was a great OS, the best of its time for sure. But I'm not so much of a diehard anymore as I see and experience the value of Windows 7 every day. I'm less enthused with the prospects of Windows 8. While the security enhancements are nice, I think too much of a focus might have been placed on the OS with 8 and its fancy tiles interface, instead of its actual core function, to help launch other programs.

In fact, I can see a lot of XP holdouts likely making a smooth transition to 7, though perhaps not so much to 8. Perhaps 10 years from now there will be people still working with Windows 7 and resisting the upgrade to Windows Phoenix or Windows 11, or whatever is the hot new thing. The more I settle into 7, the more I think I may be one of them.

Posted by John Breeden II on Jun 17, 2013 at 10:44 AM


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