Is Windows XP good enough?

An excellent article by Paul Thurrott

Michael Horowitz
Michael Horowitz

Michael Horowitz wrote his first computer program in 1973 and has been a computer nerd ever since. He spent more than 20 years working in an IBM mainframe (MVS) environment. He has worked in the research and development group of a large Wall Street financial company, and has been a technical writer for a mainframe software company.

He teaches a large range of self-developed classes, the underlying theme being Defensive Computing. Michael is an independent computer consultant, working with small businesses and the self-employed. He can be heard weekly on The Personal Computer Show on WBAI.


2 min read

Paul Thurrott, who clearly thinks Windows Vista is better than XP, has taken the release of Service Pack 3 as an opportunity to review Windows XP, taking a step back from the bits and bytes to ask if XP is good enough. The article, written last month, is called A Look at Windows XP Service Pack 3 Part 1: Good Enough? I recommend reading it.

One point he makes is that because of the delays in releasing Vista, Windows XP got more mature, "in ways that were never possible with previous versions of Windows." Lots of jobs require maturity, I like it in my operating system too. From my Defensive Computing perspective, I view Windows XP as mostly debugged. It's had hundreds of bug fixes issued for it, which suits me fine.

On a psychological level, Paul writes:

"We're creatures of habit, you and I. And even the most forward-looking of us, those who enjoy living on the edge, technology-wise, have a very natural need to be in the comfort zone sometimes. And XP is just that, comfortable, like that ratty old sweatshirt that we should have thrown out years ago but just can't bear to replace ... the longer Vista was delayed, the more comfortable XP became to users."

Again I agree. Some people don't have the time or the interest to learn a new user interface. Vista should have had an option to make it look just like XP.

Paul also writes that the delays in releasing Vista forced Microsoft to add stuff to XP that was originally targeted exclusively for Vista. Thus, the difference between the two is smaller than Microsoft had originally intended. Paul writes:

"As Vista was delayed again and again, Microsoft realized that it would be a mistake to tie the success of key new technologies that were to have originally been Vista-only. So it back-ported a number of technologies to XP, things that previously were designed to be Vista-specific. These include, among others, Windows Defender, Internet Explorer 7, Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Communications Foundation, .NET 3.x, the Windows Security Center, Windows Media Player 11, and even Office 2007."

Finally, an analogy:

"If customers are standing put on the previous version, that means they're not sold on the company's technological vision, and they're no longer lining up as Microsoft tries to lead them to the future. I mean, imagine a case in which customers were allowed to choose between a previous generation Toyota Camry and the all-new, designed-from-the-ground-up 2008 model, and the customers actually chose the old version by a roughly 2-to-1 margin, despite the fact that the price hadn't changed at all? This would be devastating to any car maker. I believe it's devastating to Microsoft for the same basic reasons."

I can't wait for Part 2 of his review.