Goodnight Windows XP

I guess, the best place to start this post is back in 2001. Thirteen years ago my parents decided that our long standing 1997 purchased Windows 95 computer was on it’s last legs. Okay, so maybe the best place to start is actually 1997. Our original computer, bought in 1997 just as I started first year of high school, changed everything. It wasn’t even connected to the internet for the longest time, and I even failed a report at high schoolbecause I used the printer to submit a typed up version, where everyone else hand wrote theirs, with the teacher assuming I'd just copied it from a book... Yeah, I am sure I’ve told that story before.

Anyway, from 1997 to 2001 we had that machine, a Packard Bell. It had a 2Gb hard drive and 16Mb of RAM. My father and I extended the life of the machine by adding an additional 12Gb hard drive, an extra 16Mb of RAM, and a new Voodoo 3 Graphics card, which is so quaint it is now astonishing. Four years back in the late 1990s was around 400 years in computer technology. Our machine, which has a really important role in my life, much like a previous generation’s first TV, still has a warped nostalgia about it. I know it’d be almost impossible to use now, as just looking at the Windows 95 File Explorer makes me wince.

We replaced that machine, finally, in 2002, my father decided we should get a replacement. I think it might have been 2002 (he’d have to correct me) but we picked up our new “Tower” desktop computer (a form factor that was genuinely innovative back then) that had a Pentium 4 and Windows XP.

Windows XP was a massive leap from our Windows 95 computer. We’d managed to skip Windows 98, Windows Me, and Windows 2000 (though my school had recently had it’s computers upgraded from Windows NT 4.0 to 2000 that previous summer) so the leap from Win 95 was akin to going from Horse Drawn cart to a Mercedes Benz. The computer was so powerful it blew my tiny little teenage mind. Also it linked directly into us getting broadband for the first time, which also blew my mind.

The point of this post however, is to accentuate the timeline – this is 2002. Today, it is 2014. And, finally, after twelve and a half years since it was introduced, the last hold out on use of Windows XP is about to fall – my work. My work has been steadfastedly using Windows XP since I started in 2007 (back when it had been replaced by Windows Vista), and since it’s been replaced by Windows 7, then Windows 8, and then Windows 8.1. It’s been a long time coming too. But really, what am I worried about? I upgrade my Mac all the time, why is Windows XP so important?

Well, it’s not really. I mean, Windows XP is really a bag of arse these days – it’s so unsecured, so out of date, a real hold out in the world of operating systems that are truly future proof. It barely understands the idea of the Cloud, the network settings are out dated, and I don’t even know what it must be like having to build applications that still have to run on a twelve year old OS as a developer. But, from a purely personal point of view, it is odd to think that this comfortable, if old, environment is suddenly going to just… disappear. It’s like throwing out the oldest pair of shoes you have, ones who have holes, are worn, are probably done, but they are the comfiest you have. Windows XP is just… well, it’s just work for me now. The grey Classic look, the odd task bar, the old start menu, and the Piano intro, are all "work" for me.

People will call me sill for being nostalgic for an operating system, and XP, but you can’t chose what you find nostalgic.

Interestingly though, to end this post, the leap in four years from 1997 to 2001 was massive, the twelve year leap from XP to Windows 7, the eventual replacement at work, isn’t as sharp a change. It probably shows how much Windows XP really did have it right that it still can be used and still is used, for better or worse, and probably the last time that Microsoft really got it right right. I used Vista, and it was a bloody mess. 7 is, apparently, good. I just wonder if that in 2026, when my company decides to upgrade Windows 7 to… whatever exists then, will I still remember Windows XP?

Probably. Farewell, sweet prince, those rolling green hills in the back ground, the blue start bar and green start button, and Puppy Dog Search Bar; I will miss you.

Note: I cannot wait to get a new computer. I hate working on my work machine. It's from 2006. 2006! And I just bought a brand new 2013 MacBook Pro, so going from that to work is like trying to use the internet whilst stuck in treacle.

Update: This post was modified on the 10th April 2014 to include the link to the old story about failing my science report. I knew that I had already wrote about that.