A Decade On, Windows XP Is Still the World's Most-Used Desktop OS

By Andrew Tarantola on at

Windows XP first went on sale ten years ago this week. In that span, it has become the desktop OS of choice with a worldwide install base of as much as 80 per cent. Here's looking at you XP.

XP was originally scheduled for a massive roll-out on October 25th, 2001, however the 9/11 attacks in the US put a severe damper on its release — slumping into the market with lower initial sales than even Windows 98's release three years prior. Slow adoption by users due to its direct competition with much-lauded Win2000 as well as XP's increased resource demands and initial driver incompatibilities didn't help win it any favours either. It wasn't until desktop hardware performance eventually caught up did XP really take off.

Once it did become established, XP surpassed all other desktop OS systems for longetvity. For years, especially after Service Pack 2 released, XP was the be all, end all of PC operating systems — you were a sucker not to use it. Two factors have directly affected that tenure: The explosion of Internet usage and Microsoft's lack of an heir. The incredible growth of the World Wide Web in the first few years of this century effectively killed off earlier, morfe-entrenched variations like Win95 and 98 that simply couldn't handle the hardware and security requirements needed to run in a rapidly connecting world. The lack of a follow-up OS played an even bigger role. With no bigger and better OS to look forward to, XP was, by default, the best a PC user could do. Rumblings of the secrect Longhorn project ended coming to naught when Microsoft canned the project and Vista, well...was Vista.

Heck, 52 per cent of the desktop PC market still runs XP, however, its doubtful the world will ever see an OS not only stick around for a decade, but remain relevant for that long. Now, even Microsoft is trying to trim its turn-around time between major OS releases to just 2-3 years, a la Apple. Sure, Windows 7 might hit 50 per cent market share before Windows 8 drops, but in ten years, it'll be about as relevant as Windows 95 in 2005. [Ars Technica]