Windows XP

Aug 31, 2009

Windows XP was the first consumer-oriented operating system produced by Microsoft to be built on the Windows NT kernel, version 5.1, and architecture. It was first released on the 25 of October, 2001 and, according to an estimate by an IDC analyst, over 400 million copies were in use in January 2006. The name "XP" comes from "eXPerience".

Windows XP had two common editions, Windows XP Home Edition, which was targeted at home users, and Windows XP Professional, which included additional support features for Windows Server domains and two physical processors, and which was targeted at power users and business environments. Windows XP Media Center Edition was a special edition with additional multimedia features improving the ability to record and watch TV shows, view DVD movies and listen to music. Another special edition was the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition which was designed to run ink-ware applications built using the Tablet PC platform. Other two separate 64 bit versions were also released, like Windows XP 64 bit for IA-64, the Itanium processor and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition for x86-64.

The most common thing that Windows XP was known for was its improved stability and efficiency over the 9x versions of Microsoft Windows. It displayed a significant redesigned graphical user interface, a change advertised by Microsoft executives as a more user-friendly version than previous ones. New software management capabilities were introduced to avoid the "DLL hell" that obstructed the older consumer oriented 9x Windows versions. The DLL Hell is a colloquial term introduced for the complications that arise during work with dynamic link libraries, DLLs, in Microsoft Windows operating systems. Although the term is part of the Windows slang language and the more general term is dependency hell, the rhyme is often used to denote a dependency hell case.

Windows XP was also the first Windows version to use product activation against software piracy, a restriction that did not go well for some users and privacy advocates. Critiques have been made against some security vulnerabilities, tight integration of applications such as Internet Explorer 6 and Windows Media Player and for aspect of the default interface. As an answer, later versions with Service pack 2 and IE 7 dealt with some of the issues.

A trivia fact regarding this version is that during development the project was code named "Whistler", after the town Whistler from the district of British Columbia, where many Microsoft employees skied at Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort.

The new features added to the XP version include faster start-up and hibernation sequences, the ability to discard a newer device driver in favor of the previous one (aka driver rollback), in case a driver upgrade did not produce desirable results, a new, arguably more user-friendly interface, including the framework for developing themes for the desktop environment, fast user switching which allows a user to save the current state and open applications of their desktop, and allow another user to log on without losing that information, the ClearType font rendering mechanism, which is designed to improve text readability on Liquid Crystal Display, LCDs, and similar monitors. Other are Remote Desktop functionality, which allows users to connect to a computer running Windows XP from across a network or the Internet and access their applications, files, printers and devices; support for most DSL modems and wireless network connections, as well as networking over FireWire and Bluetooth.

Next articles in this series:

1. The beginnings
2. First steps in operating systems
3. Windows 1.0
4. Windows 2.0
5. Windows 3.0
6. Windows 95
7. Windows 98
8. Windows Me
9. Windows 2000
10. Windows XP
11. Windows Vista
12. Windows 7
13. Windows 8