In retrospect, with a 20-year buffer, tech history is easy to write: Nowadays, knowing about Windows Vista or Windows 8, you can easily say that Windows XP was one of the most popular computer operating systems that Microsoft has ever published.
Not only do many, often nostalgic, Internet comments testify to this, but also figures: The Statcounter site, for example, states that XP still runs on 0.59 percent of all computers with the Windows operating system.
That sounds unspectacular, but behind this proportion there are millions of computers worldwide, all of which are connected to the Internet with completely outdated software.
Windows XP is therefore a classic among the operating systems, a real long-runner - and a security risk.
Regular support for XP ended in 2014. With the exception of an emergency update in 2019, Microsoft has not taken care of any gaps in its old software since then.
Windows XP is so immortal or - from the perspective of admonishing and warning IT security experts - simply not to be killed.
This sustained importance of Windows XP in autumn 2001 was not yet foreseeable.
It wasn't an easy time for the computer industry and Microsoft.
The PC market was in crisis, the company struggled with competition watchdogs in the USA and Europe at the turn of the millennium: It was about its future and many billions of dollars.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates even described XP as the most important product in the company's history.
Microsoft invested 200 million dollars in marketing, the use of Madonna's song "Ray of Light" alone allegedly cost 30 million dollars.
The company had to change its advertising slogan at short notice: "Prepare to fly" had become unusable with the attacks of September 11th, just a few weeks before the start of XP.
Microsoft switched to the less intrusive "Yes you can".
In 2001 there was only limited euphoria among users. My SPIEGEL colleague Frank Patalong, for example, emphasized in his article on XP that the new system is not a revolution, just a model change. A new Windows is also not a new Playstation, Frank also wrote: »The question to the picture editor whether any photos of waiting fans have already crossed the ticker is met with a shrug. No snakes? No Windows fanatics who stayed in their sleeping bags for 19 hours before loading in order to be the first to get their hands on the new system? "
Jörg Schieb and Thomas Borchert wrote for the »Stern« that Windows XP was unquestionably »cool«: »It looks nice, runs stable, offers interesting new functions and is easy to use«. At the same time, however, the authors said that through numerous references to company-specific additional offers, XP would "only reinforce" Microsoft's bad reputation: "as a ruthless corporation that wants to use all means to expand its market dominance to as many areas as possible."
Detlef Borchers wrote in “Die Zeit” that Microsoft wanted its customers to be “apparently internet-obsessed and happy to buy”. With its “all-encompassing orientation towards the Internet”, Microsoft “forgot that normal people use the PC”, according to one of his criticisms. "Many of the innovations under the pretty surface are simply too technical, sometimes inadequately implemented."
Windows XP, as most articles sounded, was undoubtedly an important step Microsoft made towards the Internet age and finally away from the outdated DOS basis.
But such a popular operating system that it still appears as a separate item in usage statistics after 20 years, hardly any reviewer had seen that in Windows XP.
Especially since Microsoft also provoked negative headlines with the controversial activation requirement for its system.
As is so often the case, the XP case shows that it is difficult, even for industry experts, to predict how well or badly certain programs or gadgets will be received by end customers - and how they will one day be evaluated in retrospect.
Whether the nostalgia prevails or the joy of having left the era of that product behind.
This problem can be explained well with another product from autumn 2001, which was presented only two days before the XP launch: Apple's iPod.
Most critics and analysts also attested that this device had good sales opportunities.
But who would have bet back then that the music player would sell more than 400 million times?
And that even in 2021 it will still be available as an iPod Touch - even from computers that are still running Windows XP.
External links: three tips from other media
"New excursion into old Liberty City" (ten minutes to read)
20 years ago not only Windows XP came onto the market, but also the action game "Grand Theft Auto 3", of which a revamped and revised version will soon appear.
Benedikt Plass-Fleßenkämper spent some more time with the original for “Golem”.
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Questions like these are easier to answer after an investigation into the service.
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»Rip off in WhatsApp groups: The scam of esoteric
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Get through the week well!