Happy birthday, Windows XP


Many happy returns, Windows XP , and congratulations on reaching the double digits of old age. Microsoft's venerable operating system turns ten today, which in computer years is the equivalent of you being born in the time of Augustus Caesar.

According to the latest Steam hardware survey , almost one in five of you are still using XP, and it's a remarkably well loved OS for one which had such a mixed reception at its birth. Greeted cautiously by those who feared the friendly nature of its large green Start button and colourful icons (compared to the austerity of Windows 98, at least), by the time it's replacement rolled round many refused to give it up. Indeed, they clung to XP so adamantly that Microsoft was forced to extend support for XP (ie continue updating security patches) until April 2014.

Possibly that says more about its successor than it does about XP, but the point remains.

Thanks to this and the fact that netbooks with XP preinstalled were still available 12 months ago, Windows XP was the most commonly used operating system in world up until July this year.

My colleague Gary Marshall has a potted history of XP over on our sister site, TechRadar , where he argues it's time for those clinging on to its familiar interface should let go and embrace the future. I quite like the fact that it's still popular with gamers though, I picture a small hardcore holding out against the artificial DX10/11-exclusivity of Windows 7 as being quite romantic at heart. But then I use Linux, so what do I know?

In the meantime, I'll be cracking open that old laptop at the back of cupboard and reminding myself that despite its shortcomings – the biggest one being a registry which could turn feral with the first badly coded program – it was an OS from a happier, simpler time and might yet be ultimately remembered as Microsoft's best.