Wed. Dec 8th, 2021
Benjamin Slomowitz
Special to The Quad | bs968158@wcupa.edu | + posts

Benjamin Slomowitz is a transfer student from Delaware County Community College, who is currently pursuing Media & Culture at West Chester University. 

Best HD Windows xp bliss facebook cover (CC BY 2.0) by Tatiana_0000.

For millions of people, this was an “eXPerience” unlike any other.

Microsoft Corp. released Windows XP, the eleventh main installment of a long list of Windows operating systems on this day 20 years ago. XP became a massive success upon launch and has had a lasting impact on computer history.

For home users, many nostalgia enthusiasts remember the operating system being easy-to-use, sporting a colossal revamp, with colorful, vibrant buttons, special sound effects and brilliant backgrounds, including the famous default Bliss background that has become synonymous with the OS.

Speaking of Bliss, the famous artwork was inspired by an actual photograph by former National Geographic Magazine photographer Charles O’Rear in 1996, during a car trip to his former girlfriend and current wife, Daphne’s, house. The artwork is a rendition of the “Los Carneros American Viticultural Area,” located in Wine Country, California.

For business owners, however, Windows XP also proved to be successful because of cost. Some businesses cannot afford to upgrade to a brand-new operating system and obtain sophisticated equipment. As a result, some companies still use XP to this day.

For both the home and the office, stability was at Windows XPs’ forefront. Crashes were not very common and computers ran faster with XP installed.

Microsoft Corp. even installed automatic software updates on occasions, ensuring users could continue enjoying the OS for years to come.

The operating system began as two separate operating systems codenamed “Neptune” and “Odyssey,” respectively.

“Neptune” was under development beginning July 5, 1999, to be the successor of the infamous Windows Millennium Edition (ME) operating system. The OS was in beta testing and was to be commercially released to store shelves sometime in April 2001.

“Odyssey” was being developed similarly to “Neptune,” but instead as the successor to the Windows 2000 operating system.

Nobody knows much about the history of either operating system. Still, in 2000, Microsoft Corp. developers eventually merged to help create a brand new installment, codenamed “Whistler,” after employees visited Whistler-Blackcomb Ski Resort in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.

The previous installments, Windows 2000 and Windows ME, only concentrate on business computing and home computing, respectively. So “Whistler” solved that issue by combining and unifying both aspects.

“Whistler” was to launch during the second half of 2001, but Microsoft Corp. said not much after their Jun. 2000 Professional Developers Conference (PDC). That was, until half a year later.

On Feb. 5, 2001, the company unveiled a brand new name to “Whistler” called “Windows XP,” with “XP” standing for “eXPerience.”

Now it had a brand-new simplified, smoother logo and look, completely distinguishing itself from its predecessors. Thus, XP began a new era in the Windows family.

In June of the same year, Microsoft spent $1 million in campaign ads, including the most famous ad involving people soaring through the air to “Ray of Light” by Madonna. 

Originally, Windows XP’s slogan was “Prepare to Fly,” which may have inspired the ad but changed to “Yes You Can” in light of the 9/11 attacks.

Windows XP was made available to consumers on Oct. 25, 2001, where it received critical and commercial acclaim upon launch. The OS was praised for its remarkable performance improvements that its predecessors did not have. It was, however, criticized for having a brand new feature that would become the standard of future Windows operating systems: product activation codes, but critics ultimately deemed it necessary.

Free technical support and warranty claims, among other mainstream support features, lasted until April 14, 2009, but the operating system still provided security updates. However, almost five years later, on April 8, 2014, Microsoft Corp. officially dropped all support for Windows XP.

Many businesses still relied on XP during which and after the company ended support for the operating system. For example, security experts in Jan. 2014 estimated that 95% of automated teller machines ran Windows XP.

Many notable banking companies, such as JPMorgan Chase & Co., made exclusive deals with Microsoft Corp. to upgrade all ATMs to Windows 7.

That said, hundreds of thousands of independent ATMs still rely on Windows XP today, which could put millions of customers at risk with viruses, spyware and hackers infiltrating and draining their bank accounts.

Putting aside the risk factors, though, many people still enjoy Windows XP. Some have created memes around it, such as edits of the Bliss wallpaper and sound remixes, including the famous startup and shutdown sounds.

Millions agree that they have “experienced the best, experienced Windows XP,” as the built-in tour itself states.

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