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Are you nostalgic for Windows XP?

Windows XP logo

Windows XP has divided software history in two – before and after XP. But with popularity for XP showing no signs of abating, isn’t it time for Microsoft to relaunch it and give its customers what they want?

People hardly remember Windows 98 or ME but after all these years, not only has the almighty XP stuck in people’s minds but more importantly, it is still the most used operating system in the world.

According to W3Schools, XP has almost half of computer users on its side (47% Dec 2010). Quite impressive if you bear in mind the XP platform has its days numbered – the extended support ends in 2014.

Why is XP so popular?

After almost two years on the market, the massively improved Windows 7 hasn’t been able to win the popularity contest in the mind of millions of users. So what’s behind this massive support for XP? Could it be down to its groundbreaking interface, speed and security?

Maybe it’s to do with the fact that its successor wasn’t very successful – it’s widely acknowledged that Vista got a fair amount of backlash (although I have to say my experience with it was ok). Could this have contributed to the XP popularity, making users nostalgic of the “old” technology?

I can’t deny that for a product that’s been around for more than a decade, XP is still current and keeps up with emerging technologies. Even though trends are changing, (at this year’s CES, most new products were touchscreen tablets using a brand new version of Android) I reckon businesses will hold on to XP for more years to come.

XP and home users

This love affair with the old platform is reflected repeatedly in the emails we receive via the Which? Computing Helpdesk. Windows users often struggle so much with younger OS models that they have a change of heart, wishing they had never switched.

We even get requests to help people make the brand new Windows 7 look like the old XP. Funnily enough, you can find very comprehensive guides online to do exactly this, suggesting it’s a more popular activity than you might think.

And I’m pretty sure Microsoft acknowledges all this. One of the selling points of Windows 7 was – and still is – the option to run an XP mode in order to minimize any compatibility issues.

So am I the only one wondering if all this nostalgia and affection for XP can be harnessed by Microsoft, with the development of a brand new OS “XP 2012”? That, I reckon, would be a great business idea for Microsoft.

Would you ditch your current operating system in favour of a new XP 2012?

Yes (47%, 466 Votes)

No (33%, 329 Votes)

Not sure (21%, 207 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,003

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As far as I’m concerned – I do not change an OS just because there is a new one out – unless the old one was very defective. I’ve been using PCs since DOS.

Win XP has virtually no faults and is robust – allows easy recovery – and works very well with my latest Computer – a fast piece of kit indeed – So why should I change?.

Win Vista was rubbish – Win 7 is no better than XP for all of my requirements. I want software that I can use for all of my requirements – without having to learn new “tricks” for the “updates”

It is why I do not use Microsoft for anything except the OS.

Corel Wordperfect is far superior to Word in all respects. – As is Corel Paint Shop Pro.

The only other OS really available is a form of Linux and honestly I find that not as easy to use as XP though I use if for a Laptop

The only reason I will change from XP is when my usual software upgrades will no longer work with it. But even then I would be inclined simply not to upgrade anyway – unless the upgrade was far far superior to the previous version – and that has been very rare indeed.


Unless a new operating system (or any software) is offering big improvements in areas I am interested in why should I change.
I will only have to spend a lot of time finding out how it works and where all those useful or important options have been moved to again.

More importantly hardware is no longer the limiting factor for most people’s use of a PC so many people carry on happily using machines several years old with XP.


Windows Vista must be responsible for a lot of the reluctance to move to Wiindows 7. Microsoft should have given every user of Vista a free copy of Windows 7 and an big, big apology.

Installing Windows 7 on a computer running Windows XP is not a simple matter and Microsoft recommends a ‘clean install. No problem for experienced users, but a challenge for most of us.

Anyone with an older computer is going to find Windows 7 slow by comparison with XP. Not as bad as Vista, but a very obvious decrease in performance.

Many companies and government organisations (which represent a lot of computer users) still provide their staff with Windows XP. (Even worse, they may have no alternative to Internet Explorer 6, which is a bit of a joke in 2011.)

As computers are replaced, Windows 7 will grow in popularity and more users will experience the advantages of a more modern operating system.

I don’t think we need a new version of XP (or DOS, or CP/M ….. ), unless there is a surge in interest in the history of the personal computer.


Have to say when I replaced my computer – the new one came with Win 7 – I immediately replaced it with Win XP – haven’t regretted it.

Mike Minh says:
12 February 2011

Do not underestimate the power of Microsoft. By introducing new and unnecessary file formats (like .docx) soon they will get their way and XP will eventually die. Why do they do this? They want a firm grip on the user with digital rights management, file formats which can be controlled (watch the battle between Silverlight and Flash). If MS could replace PDF they would certainly do so. Etc etc etc. The border between the OS and the applications gets more and more blurred. Just ask an average user “What text software do you use?” Surprisingly often the answer is “Windows”.

MS wants to control what they call the user experience. The aim is to limit choice, not to widen it.

As for XP to come back in whatever form, sorry to be blunt, dream on. That’s not going to happen.

Amused says:
13 February 2011

I don’t disagree with the facts, but I draw the opposite conclusion! Their determination to keep their revenue streams flowing by churning out new versions of Office and (to justify these) yet newer versions of existing formats is their fatal weakness. Remember, they originally refused to provide conversion plug-ins or a “Reader” program for .docx for exactly these reasons, but it had the OPPOSITE effect… most wouldn’t upgrade to the new Office because so few recipients could use the .docx documents it produced. Result? Microsoft caved in and provided what it had originally refused to produce, but it was too late. I personally just return .docx documents to the sender and ask them to send it as a .doc or (preferably, if it doesn’t need editing) a .pdf, largely because I’m a Linux user.

The same thing happened with Silverlight, which was doomed to an early death because there was no version for anything other than Windows. Microsoft was forced to leverage its relationship with Novell, and to support Moonlight (Silverlight for Linux), but again it’s too late… Flash is too well-established and even Microsoft has tacitly admitted that HTML5 is now attracting its strategic attention, much to the dismay of all of those companies that committed to Silverlight on Microsoft’s earlier assurances.

But you are spot on about their obsession to “control the user experience” – that’s their Achilles Heel. It was why, for years, the marketing people were always able to override their security people, and look where it has taken Windows. Completely unfit for purpose from a reliability and security perspective, and we now have a new generation that thinks re-booting your PC two or three times a week is a natural part of computing (I have a Linux server that was last re-booted around Easter 2010).


I still use use XP and Windows 95. I have dos relational database ( a very good one), in which I have over 31,000 records, and which I can still back up onto 2 floppy disks. The new versions of my database are over £700, which I cannot afford. Ir runs light lightning and will do far more than Access, as it can be either menu driven or programmed. So why would I change when a new programme would take up over 10 times the space and not run as fast.

I have also had real problems with updating Windows Internet Explorer, and each time have had to go back to V.6, which although it hangs on some websites still works with most.

Perhaps Which could run a series on how to update various software progs without getting in tangle.


There is no doubt that a lot can be done with very old computers, but newer models and operating systems are more versatile.

Being stuck with Internet Explorer 6 is a compelling reason to update. This browser encouraged many users to turn their back on Microsoft and move to better browsers.