I knew this day was coming. The portents were all there. Microsoft swore back in 2011 it would no longer offer support, patches, or fixes for Windows XP come this April. The company snarkily told customers they should move to a "modern operating system." A plague of locusts descended on my home office.
On a cloudy day last week, at 11:43 in the morning, I turned off my Windows XP-loaded Dell for the last time. It made a little whining, sighing noise as it powered down. All my important files were offloaded to an external hard drive and a brand-new custom-made Windows 7 desktop sat nearby, gloating about its ascendance with its shiny black case and complete lack of cat hair sucked into the fan.
I bought my Dell XP desktop so long ago, I can't even figure out what year it went into service. It had a hard drive replaced a few years back, but kept trucking along, rarely crashing. It was never a superstar, but it also never truly failed me. I feared what Windows 7 would bring. I wondered if it would feel like crash-landing on an alien world where I didn't speak the language.
A little background about my computing tendencies. I enjoy dwelling in the Switzerland-like realm of operating-system agnosticism. I use an Android phone, an iOS tablet, a MacBook for a laptop, and Windows for my desktop. I had already decided that Windows 8 would be too much to deal with, considering the glitch history and weirdness of Metro. I chose Windows 7 instead.
I'm glad I did. Instead of feeling like a stranger in a strange operating system, I feel like I'm dating XP's fraternal twin brother. Sure, it looks a little different. There are some behavioral quirks that are unexpected (like fuzzing out my screen sometimes when my mouse wanders down to the bottom of the display), but it's not that much different.
What I like about 7 is that the OS feels zippy (partly due to my shiny new hardware powering it); the search function is so much more capable; and it quickly wakes from sleep, a process that felt interminable on XP. I'm also kind of in love with the translucent Aero interface showing the background behind the windows. I'm a sucker for subtly flashy features.
If Microsoft hadn't forced my hand by dropping security updates for XP after a 12-year life cycle, I might still be listening to that tinkly, synthy startup sound every morning. Now, I'm greeted by the whistly, synthy "hello" of 7.
I'll admit it. The thought of having to adjust to a new interface made my palms a little sweaty. Yes, yes, I can hear it now: "Wow, Amanda, you're such a wimp. It's just an OS upgrade." There's some truth to that. I was totally wimping out on upgrading, but we're all creatures of habit and it's hard to say farewell to something that's been a part of my daily work life for more than a decade.
Mostly, I feared downtime while I fumbled around learning how to use the revamped taskbar and the new "libraries" system for organizing files (as a journalist, I live on deadline; the last thing I want is for my computer to make me late and stress me out). After all my self-inflicted concerns about upgrading to a new OS, however, I find I'm now thoroughly chill about the change.
I had been with XP longer than I had been with most of my ex-boyfriends. It was a constant. It was a little slow sometimes, and I started to have trouble finding functioning drivers for some newer peripherals, but it was solid. Never a rock star. Never a total loser. I rarely cursed at it, which is quite an accomplishment for any piece of technology.
Farewell, faithful OS
I hope my new relationship with Windows 7 will be as even-keeled, but I couldn't let my XP machine go without a proper send-off. It's tempting to say, "Good night, sweet XP. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest," but that's a bit too grand for the occasion. Instead, a simple, "Goodbye, XP, it's been a good run. We had some good times together, but now I'm moving on" will do.
I've been through operating system upgrades before, but this one seemed different. Windows 98 was my precursor to XP. XP was such a big step up from 98, I didn't bother worrying about the change since I was headed toward such a clear improvement. Back then, it seemed like I was upgrading OSes every couple of years. But all these long years with XP turned me into a bit of an OS curmudgeon, not wanting that young whippersnapper Windows 7 to invade my lawn. As it turns out, we get along great.
For all you folks out there still clinging to XP like a chunk of flotsam in the OS ocean, I empathize. I encourage you to say your farewells and make the change on your own terms, whether it's moving on to developing a connection with Windows 7, Windows 8, Linux, or a Mac OS. You just might want to pass on Windows Vista. I hear he's kind of a twit.