Windows XP Departs: Good Riddance or Sad Farewell?

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The forced retirement of Microsoft's Windows XP is set--with some exceptions--for Monday, June 30. To quell XP separation anxiety and the rancor of seething Vista haters, Microsoft has agreed to offer Windows XP updates and security patches until April 2014.

However, PC retailers such as Dell have pretty much stopped selling computers preloaded with the venerable OS.

XP's disappearance has stirred much conversation. In fact, more than 200,000 people signed a petition to keep XP--a campaign championed by our sibling publication InfoWorld. In the long run, though, Microsoft refused to yield to the entreaties of XP-philes.

We have discussed this issue so vigorously here at PC World--in meetings, in our offices, and in the hallways--that we decided to enlist advocates for the two principle points of view to make their case, and then ask for your input in our Comments section. How do you feel about XP's departure?

Speaking first, in favor of Vista, is Senior Editor Robert Strohmeyer.

XP: Goodbye and Good Riddance

Artwork: Chip Taylor
Windows Vista is flawed, to be sure, but I won't shed a tear for the demise of Windows XP.

First let me define my position on the question of XP versus Vista. I don't intend to mount a whole-hearted defense of Vista, because anyone can see that the OS has some problems, but I when I consider the tidal wave of nostalgia that has been swelling over Windows XP lately, I can barely stop my eyeballs from rolling out of their sockets. So let's try to put things in perspective.

When PC World's editors took their first hard look at Windows XP back in 2001, we weren't blown away by any means. In our tests, we "found its performance generally on a par with that of other recent Windows versions."

Among the operating system's annoyances were its activation scheme (which we characterized as a needless burden on law-abiding users), its cute-but-inept canine helper in the search utility (which we saw as an uninvited dog), and the System Tray balloon text (which we termed an intermittent irritation). Meanwhile, we spotted compatibility issues between XP and a slew of devices and apps designed with earlier incarnations of Windows in mind. Ultimately, we gave XP our thumbs up as a marginal improvement on its forebears.

XP Bah Humbug: Senior Editor Robert Strohmeyer
Photograph: Robert Cardin
Personally, I never liked XP. I did run it on my daily workhorse PC out of sheer computer-magazine-editing necessity, but my preferences leaned toward Mac OS X and Linux, both of which offered superior stability, performance, and security even then.

Only when I booted up a beta of Windows Vista--with its streamlined interface, protected kernel, and improved networking tools--did I begin thinking of Windows as a modern OS again.

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