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.

What versions of Windows XP were available?

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.

Windows XP also introduced other editions rather than Home and Professional editions. They include Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, and Windows XP Starter Edition.

Windows XP Media Center Edition: It is introduced with the aim to support home theater PC. Its extended multimedia functionalities like an electronic program guide and digital video recorder support make this edition highly compatible with media devices.

Windows XP Tablet PC Edition: Windows XP Tablet PC Edition was introduced for mobile devices to meet the requirements of a Tablet PC. Its additional feature like pen input facilitates users to provide more accurate input.

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.

Windows XP End of Support

Windows XP officially exited the phase of mainstream support offered by Microsoft in April, 2009. However, Microsoft has continued its extended support by providing security updates without having any technical support and warranty claims.

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.

Security updates for Windows XP despite the end-of-support

Microsoft provides security patches for Windows XP even after it ended up the support intending to protect the users from the danger of cyberattacks. Following are some of the significant security updates:

Microsoft IE 6-11 security (2014)

A zero-day exploit has been identified in Internet Explorer (IE) versions 6 through 11. The attackers use a malicious link with the existence of Adobe Flash to get access to the victim’s system. When the user clicks on this malicious link, the malware gets installed. It allows the attackers to run commands and control the systems of victims. To protect the users and businesses from this malware, Microsoft has issued Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET). The users can either install EMET or disable Adobe Flash to prevent this security patch.

WannaCry ransomware attack (2017)

The WannaCry ransomware attack began when a cryptoworm targeted computers that run Windows operating systems in May 2017. In this attack, the attackers encrypt the data and demand ransom payments in cryptocurrency, and within a day, it has affected more than 23000 systems across the world. Immediately after the attack, Microsoft released the security update end of the life product Windows XP.

Code vulnerability in Remote Desktop Services (2019)

A remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability in Remote Desktop Services of Windows operating systems was found in May 2019 in which attackers can connect with the systems via Remote Desktop Protocol and execute arbitrary code to get access to all functions on the target systems. As a WannaCry ransomware attack, it’s also a ‘wormable’ attack as it has the potential to spread quickly. Although it affects end-of-life products, Microsoft issued security patches for EOL products such as Windows XP and Windows 2003.

Minimum System Requirements Recommended System Requirements
Processor 233 MHz 300 MHz +
Memory 64 MB RAM 128+ MB RAM
Video Adaptor & Monitor Super VGA 800×600 Super VGA 800×600 or higher resolution
Hard Drive  1.5 GB 1.5+ GB
Drives CD ROM or DVD ROM CD ROM or DVD ROM
Devices Keyboard Keyboard and Mouse

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

Windows XP software that still works today

Though Microsoft has ended its mainstream and extended support for Windows XP, some software are still available for its users to enjoy a smooth functioning of Windows XP systems. 

Antivirus software

Since Microsoft ended support for Windows XP, it’s easy for hackers to utilize the system vulnerabilities to result in huge damages. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure the safety of the Windows XP systems by installing antivirus software.

Avast: Avast antivirus software can protect Windows XP systems against the all-new mode of threats. Its four scanning modes, quick scan, full-system scan, removable media scan, and the targeted scan, allow users to ensure complete protection even though it’s not providing any support assistance.

AVG: Being one of the user-friendly antivirus software, AVG provides comprehensive protection against all types of malware attacks on Windows XP. However, the users are not allowed to access all the features of its latest versions.

Apart from these antivirus applications, there is some other antivirus software such as BitDefender and Panda Protection to provide all levels of protection, including cloud security.

VPNs

VPNs protect against data from the local Internet Service Providers. Public Wi-Fi is used by many people while on the commute and this poses a great threat to cyber security as it makes it easy for hackers and other third-party websites to access the browsing history and details. The use of a VPN keeps data encrypted and safe. Here are some of the Microsoft’s VPNs for Windows XP systems:

CyberGhost: With over 7100 servers span in 91 countries, it provides ultimate security and privacy while using devices. CyberGhost uses highly advanced VPN protocols and world-class encryption standards to defend all confidential data including office files against malicious activities. 

NordVPN: As a leading VPNs for home office employees, NordVPN helps users to mask their identity and protect against the threat of getting hacked the office files and web browsing history. Although the advantages outweigh its drawbacks, NordVPN lacks a high-speed internet connection.

Surfshark, BullGuard, and Hotspot Shield are some other VPNs compatible with Windows XP systems. 

Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office XP, an office suite released in 2002, is highly compatible with Windows XP systems. It introduced several features, including Document Imaging and Document Scanning, applications. It also encompasses smart tags and handwriting and speech recognition capabilities and released three service packs for the Windows XP system.

Browsers

Windows XP still has a significant number of users; therefore, it requires safe and well-functioning browsers to access the internet. Though many popular browsers have stopped the support of Windows XP, the browsers like Firefox and Opera support Windows XP. Compared to other popular browsers, they are lightweight and use less amount of processing power. Therefore, they still work perfectly on Windows XP.

Image Editing

Though Microsoft has ended its support for Windows XP, there are some image editing tools that still support its users to create and edit digital images. GIMP and Irfan View are some powerful image editing tools that facilitate simplest as well as complex image editing procedures.

Screenshot Tool

The screenshot tool ShareX is highly compatible with Windows XP. It allows the users to capture full-screen or a selected area of a screen. The latest version of ShareX also possesses comprehensive file sharing and screen capturing features. It enables the users to capture the screenshot of the active window and the scrolling pages.

 

This definition was reviewed and updated extensively in April 2022 by Siji Roy.
Vangie Beal
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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