• ZDNet Article "Windows XP: Why it won't die for years to come"

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    This ZDNet article came out on April 12. It’s titled “Windows XP: Why it won’t die for years to come”

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    • #109621

      Windows 2000 was my favorite version of Windows, till Windows 7 came out. W2000 was rock solid. I used it for a while after it went out of support, on an unconnected computer. The only problem was that if you needed a souped-up video card or other specialty item, it was getting harder and harder to find W2000 drivers for those devices.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      • #175750

        UI-wise, Win2k remains my gold standard as far as Windows UIs go.  Win XP with the Themes service disabled was pretty much the same; the only exception I know about is that XP used new icons, animations, etc., in 32-bit color, while 2k used the same 256-color (8 bit) icons as ME.  That’s actually why 2k is my favorite, UI-wise… it’s not that 32-bit color in and of itself is bad, but XP’s emphasis on the styling of those icons meant that they looked to me like pastel smudges more than whatever it was they were supposed to depict.  They were as bad as the modern, flat, minimalist icons or tiles that are simplifed to the point that I have to stare at them to actually make out what they’re supposed to be.

        Icons have to look like something to do their jobs properly, and that effect was at its peak with Win2k.  The simple icons in 2k that were not meant to be beautiful abstract art nor photorealistic depictions of anything; they were simply meant to be easily recognizable depictions of something, and that’s why they were so good.  Win2k’s interface was what a windowing OS looked like before the “designers” got their meathooks into things and started to make things “beautiful” rather than “usable.”

        Early on, I actually used resource editors to replace all of the icons, bitmaps, animations, etc., from the Windows XP files and replace them with the resources from ME (I didn’t have a 2k install from which to work).  By the time that project was complete, there were some 130 files in my modded pile.  Most required only a few, but some heavy hitters like shell32.dll were a beast to re-mod when a Windows update replaced them.

        Part of the reason this was possible was that Windows XP’s various bits and pieces weren’t signed, to my knowledge; if they had, my modifications would have broken the signing.

        I later learned that there might have been a much easier way to change all the icons than actually replacing them, but by then I had lost interest in the project.

        Win2k and XP were close siblings, but there were a few changes to XP that made it my all-time top choice overall for Windows versions, despite the regression in the icon appearance.  The encrypting file system (EFS) in 2k had a nasty flaw that made it trivial to bypass, and this was corrected for XP Pro (Home didn’t have EFS, since only businesses are concerned about keeping data private, apparently).  That was the sole reason I upgraded from XP Home to Pro on my (easily stolen) laptops.

        Windows 7 comes in second in my list of favorite Windows versions (that I’ve actually had on one of my machines; 2k was not one of those, but if it was, I would probably lump it and XP together).  The long march from operating systems that unabashedly served the user to operating systems that served their creator began during the XP days, when WGA appeared on the scene.  It did not do anything to benefit any Windows user; the “advantage” it referred to was strictly Microsoft’s.

        While a lot of people might let Microsoft off the hook for this one since its aim was to prevent piracy of a commercial product, it was also a clearly visible turning point where MS began to put its own fortunes ahead of those of its customers in an organized, purposeful manner.  From the beginning, there were false positives in WGA, and this has continued all the way to the present with its successor, Windows Product Activation.

        By the time 7 arrived, the move toward restricting the user to favor Microsoft’s goals was already in full swing; by then, MS had begun prohibiting Windows themes that didn’t contain a Microsoft signature, even though these themes contained no executable code, thus posing no more threat to their users than an image or video file.

        Microsoft has never commented on why they did this, but the prevailing opinion seems to be that it has to do with branding.  They wanted Windows 7 to look like Windows 7, as they imagined it.  They didn’t want to take the chance that someone could use someone else’s Windows PC and find the appearance to be substandard… they may think that this is simply how Windows 7 looks and never think of buying a Windows 7 PC themselves.

        It may seem silly to judge an OS by its theme, but MS did have a point about the way people think about such things (if in fact that was what MS was thinking).  I know someone who has more knowledge about PCs and Windows than your average bear.  He knows I use Linux, and I’ve talked about the wide variety of desktop environments and themes that are available.  One time I sent a screenshot for some reason that I cannot recall, and he remarked “so this is what Linux looks like.”

        I didn’t think I could have been any more clear, prior to that, that it’s infinitely customizable, not to mention that there’s no such single entity as “Linux.”  Even with all of that, he still thought, for that moment, that there was such a thing as “what Linux looks like.”  It’s not what “Linux” looks like any more than a leopard is what a “mammal” looks like!  I guess it’s human nature to think that the first example of (x) that they see is representative of (x).  Certainly, a bona fide example of (x) may seem like a better placeholder for “ALL of (x)” than a question mark, but in some cases (like this one), it really isn’t.

        While MS may have had a point about how people think about Windows and its appearance, that doesn’t mean that they should, for their own marketing purposes, restrict how people change the appearance of their own PCs.  At the moment the PC changes hands and becomes mine, its purpose as far as marketing for anyone is over… now it’s mine, existing only to serve me and my needs as I see them.  Helping to sell more copies of Windows is not among its purposes!

        Windows 7, at least, allowed the option of reverting to the Windows Classic theme, which allowed a person to sidestep the MS marketing tie-in, if they were willing to tolerate the tearing and overall regression in GDI performance since XP (which used only GDI rendering, and did a much better job of it than 7).  When 8 came along, Classic was gone; unless a person was willing to use one of the terrible high-contrast themes or use a third-party hack, he was locked in to MS marketing approved themes… each with a blindingly white background that many of us cannot tolerate.

        XP got its start before all of that happened.  Even though WGA was added to XP after its release, the core product remained true to its purpose, and that was to serve the user– which I’d argue even now that it did better than any other version of Windows before or since (the exception being 2k, which was such a close sibling that almost all bromides about XP also apply).  Windows 7 is decent, but there are a lot of areas that feel clumsier or more dumbed-down than XP, which just seemed to get everything (UI-wise) right.

        Windows XP remains popular because it was a stellar product within its day, and it has yet to be equalled by anything Redmond has put forth since.  That’s not to say I would recommend XP now, but it will always be the version that first comes to mind when I think of “Windows,” I think… which is why later versions feel like such a letdown, I guess.

        Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
        XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
        Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11 for maintenance)

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #175697

      ? says:

      because it works as designed?
      just finished patching for March 2018:

      install KB4089187-IE8 cumulative update first so you can then use Microsoft update. Check for advice from MSFN:


      (see page 159 for reference to “patch Lady” at “askwoody”)

      KB4056564-credssp rce
      KB4089175-Windows Shell rce
      KB4089082-Microsoft Video Control eop
      KB4089344-Windows graphic Device Interface eop
      KB4089453-Windows Remote Assistance Information Disclosure vulnerability
      KB4089694-Windows wireless WPA Pairwise Encryption Key Re-Installation vulnerability
      KB4087398-Windows Installer eop

      there you have it!

      1 user thanked author for this post.
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