Windows XP

What is Windows XP?

Windows XP is an operating system that Microsoft introduced in 2001. It served as an innovation of the Windows NT kernel and a successor to Windows Me (for consumers) and Windows 2000 (for enterprises). It was ultimately succeeded by Windows Vista in 2006.

Like most other Windows operating systems, XP was made available in two versions: Home Edition (32-bit only) and Professional Edition (32- or 64-bit). Mobility was a major focus in all facets of technology at the time, so both versions of XP included support for plug-and-play features as well as wireless network connectivity using the 802.11x wireless security standard. Both versions were also available as either a full license or an upgrade to an existing Windows operating system.

History of Windows XP

Before its official release in 2001, XP had been developed as two separate projects (named “Odyssey” and “Neptune”) until they were consolidated under the “Whistler” title. It was intended to merge the previously distinct lines of consumer and enterprise-grade operating systems, effectively ending the development of MS-DOS.

The marketing tagline for XP in 2001 was originally “Prepare to Fly,” but the September 11 attacks in the United States caused Microsoft to shift the messaging to “Yes You Can” to avoid any negative repercussions. The launch was immediately regarded as a success. Many users lauded its ease of use, stability, and performance benefits among other benefits.

The initial Windows XP release was followed by the release of Windows XP 64-Bit Edition (v2002) and Windows XP 64-Bit Edition (v2003). Windows XP Media Center Edition was also released in 2002 for home theater systems and similar entertainment environments. It included support for a digital video recorder (DVR) and expanded multimedia content.

In 2014, Microsoft announced it would be ending support for Windows XP. This move had a significant impact on business and government users alike, and reports quickly surfaced of compatibility issues as well as a number of security vulnerabilities that would no longer be addressed with system updates or patches. As a result, many users weighed these risks against the cost of upgrading to a new operating system and the accompanying learning curve. Today, less than 1% of devices still operate on Windows XP.

Windows XP features

The XP release was said to be the most significant Windows release since Windows 95. Short for “experience,” Windows XP naturally introduced a greater focus on the user interface; in addition to an updated look and feel, XP provided a more stable and reliable environment than previous versions of Windows. Other features of Windows XP include:

  • Automatic updates
  • Support for Internet Explorer 6
  • Windows Messenger
  • Multilingual support (Professional Edition)
  • Remote Desktop (Professional Edition)
  • Updated Start menu, including support for window grouping, pinned item lists, etc.
  • Faster start up, log on, log off, hibernation, and user switching functionalities


Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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