The Rise and Rise of the Windows Operating System [Vista Excluded]
Windows XP is what a PC operating system should have been at the outset, an operating system for the PC that works. Microsoft by default (or by design) launched the first incarnation of windows in a far from complete state. Instead of then issuing free upgrades as they sorted out the errors and omissions they hit on the idea that they could extract vast amounts of money from their users by repackaging minor upgrades to the same flawed system and reselling it over and over. It was not until the release of XP that Microsoft finally released an operating system that actually worked. But, having got used to regular floods of money arriving after every upgrade it was unthinkable to stay with XP, it was time for yet another incarnation of Windows to be foisted on the ever so gullible public.
If XP had come after Vista many people would have welcomed the scrapping of the fussy Vista interface for the clean lines of XP. It's not surprising then to read that many people who are forced to accept Vista with a new machine are actually downgrading to XP, though in my opinion it's not actually a downgrade. Sure there are some aspects of Vista that if implemented on XP as minor adjustments would improve it, I give for example the ability in Vista to resize all file columns in a folder to fit the width of the text using one click instead of the cumbersome method in XP of having to resize each column individually. But with Vista installed on one of our office machines for the last 4 months I have to say that I find it fussy and the sort of operation system the Victorians would have come up with if they had had computers in their day. But then Americans may be innovative but designers they are not.
It only took Microsoft 15 years to come up with an operating system that worked (XP), and they should think themselves lucky that their users were not only patient enough to wait all that time but also prepared to shell out five or more times for essentially the same product. My first question to Bill Gates if I ever met him, would be this: How much of the code is migrated from previous to successive incarnations of Windows and why was full credit for previously purchased code not passed on in full? But I guess it's not about honesty it's more to do with profit, how else could someone amass a personal fortune of fifty five thousand million dollars in such a short time? ($55,000,000,000). Despite the fact that Microsoft will be discontinuing XP, it's encouraging to see there is considerable third party support out there that will undoubtedly grow in the coming years. If Microsoft wants to maintain its hold on the PC operating system market they have to re-think their policy towards XP. They had a good run but it's now time for Microsoft to find another goose that lays golden eggs, and admit that Vista is just a bauble and XP is and will be for the foreseeable future the definitive operating system for the PC.
2012 Update [Windows 7 and 8]
Win-7 After the disaster of Windows Vista along came Windows 7 [whatever happened to Windows 1 thru 6?], at last Microsoft achieved the update to Windows XP that Vista should have been. Windows 7 was a worthy upgrade to the Windows operating system. Still, the cash from all those people and businesses who mistakenly upgraded [sic] to Vista was no doubt part of the money spinning plan.
Win-8 Based on my free, pre-release evaluation copy of Windows 8 I can report that it seems to be a worthy upgrade to Windows 7 and also that at last Microsoft seem to have realized that there is a limit to the number of times you can sell what is essentially, mostly the same product. For a limited amount of time Microsoft will be offering a very reasonably priced upgrade from any previous version of Windows, to Windows 8.
Gone are all the fancy 'Aero' see-thru windows and color/fade banners, Win-8 is simpler and when you get past the 'Metro' touchscreen interface, much of the system is identical to Win-7.
Office 2013 [also a pre-release evaluation copy] has, for me, gone altogether 'to lean' and simplistic with virtually no color, it's like going back to the days of the 'Atari' office programs [only visually of course]. There really needs to be a color differentiation between the 'control' elements on a design page and the 'content'. The evaluation office programs currently appear to have no way of applying 'skins'.
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