Microsoft rattles cages with plans to kill XP

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

I realise this will probably prompt an e-mail or two from readers telling me the thousands of ways they feel Apple and/or Linux are superior to Windows, but I don’t care: I adore Windows XP.

There, I said it. Do your worst gentle readers, but you won’t change my mind. It’s an incredibly stable, user-friendly operating system that plays nicely with all my other software and ticks away in the background, quietly doing everything it should. What more could I ask for?

There’s just one little problem with XP: Microsoft wants to kill it. The operating system, launched back in 2001, is being pulled from shop shelves in June and Microsoft plans to phase out support for it in the future.

This is, of course, aimed at pushing the not-so-popular Vista, launched amid much excitement from Microsoft and not quite so much excitement from reviewers around the world in January last year.

I had a play with Vista when it first appeared and found it was pretty good but not great. As expected with any new software, there were a few issues with stability and compatibility.

These problem are usually sorted in a timely fashion but in the case of Vista, things seem to have come to a standstill.

Another problem is just how well Vista performs speed-wise because the hardware required to run it is still fairly grunty and outside the range of a lot of home users.

Sure it has some nice interfaces and does pretty things with graphics, but most computer users simply want it to work. Reliably. And fast. Without crashing. And with their other software.

Unfortunately, Vista doesn’t quite manage this. On the other hand, XP does.

Both my desktop machines are running XP Professional and my laptop chugs along quite nicely with XP Home Edition. I don’t want to change to Vista and I don’t think I should have to.

XP fans are rallying in support of their beloved operating system, with technology journalist Galen Gruman managing to collect more than 100,000 virtual signatures in an online petition since January. Lots of staunch XP fans have also taken the opportunity to leave comments when signing the petition, including many who say if the move goes ahead they will quit Windows in favour of Apple or even tech-freebie poster child Linux.

I guess a few will follow through with their threats but I doubt the numbers will be high: most of us will stick with what we know. However, that doesn’t alter the fact that Microsoft is managing to rattle the cages and ignore the wants of its most important commodity: its customers.

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