After a decade+ as THE most dominate OS platform around, Microsoft finally pulls the plug.
Some could point to a myriad of articles I’ve done as of late (where I’ve been critical of the Xbox One’s performance and decision making process of Microsoft in general) and conclude that I’m a hater. This is not the case. In fact, if you knew me, you’d realize that my distain and frustration comes from a place of love. Yes, I said love, as I have always been a Microsoft guy. I’ve never owned an Apple product and probably never will. Why? Because Microsoft’s shit works. Tech snobs would try to convince you otherwise, but it’s just not true (although that’s an argument for another day). I will say this: I propose to you that the Windows XP operating system is quite possibly the single greatest piece of software ever devised. Period.
Unfortunately, the glory days of Windows may now be behind us.
After a long and prosperous run, Microsoft has recently forced those hangers-on to finally upgrade to one of their current products, citing the company will no longer support XP. While I do understand that you can’t live in the past forever, Microsoft has not exactly made it appealing to make the transition. For me, I’ve been operating on the Windows 7 OS for quite some time now (after the Vista debacle that is). I can tell you, I absolutely love it. It takes everything that was great about Windows XP, from a functionality and design standpoint, and pushes it to the next level. It represents the perfect mindset of a company who, at one time, didn’t put style over substance.
Now with Windows 8…not so much.
As I write, I’m typing this article on a laptop that is running the latest Windows OS: version 8. The only reason I’m doing that is because I was unable to wipe the damn hard drive in order to install an OEM version of 7. In an attempt to go toe-to-toe with Apple in the “fluff” department (or perhaps to appease the hipster crowd), Microsoft decided to take their OS in a new direction by stripping many key features of its core layout. The Start Menu is gone, replaced by a panel style interface that forces you into an incredibly awkward way of doing things. It’s completely counterintuitive for Windows veterans and can be a real drain on productivity and work flow. You can clearly see that some of the bad decisions Microsoft is making in other areas of the company are trickling down into their operating system’s development (remember I said this kind of thing would bleed over into other facets of their business). Eventually, Windows 7 will be shoved out the door as well. Then our only choice will be to adopt this new attitude Microsoft is forcing upon us, one that suggests we all should live in the same Mac colored bubble. Call me crazy, but I used to root for that chubby guy in the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” commercials. I mean, of the two, which would you want working on your computer? The guy who looks like he knows what he’s doing, or the other one who doubles as a stockman at Abercrombie & Fitch?
However, there’s more to consider than just the aesthetics of migrating from Windows XP to a current OS. The sheer logistics of it pose a real nightmare for large parts of the globe. Some may not realize just how ingrained the Windows XP operating system has become over the last decade. Its roots are dug deep into millions of office desktops around the world (encompassing everything from inmate records at correctional facilities to entire financial infrastructures of many Fortune 500 companies). The Windows manufacturer has recently stated they’re willing to provide support to those in need of making the switch. Problem is (and if you’ve ever updated an OS you’ll know) it’s not liking turning on a light switch. Microsoft has now seemingly fabricated a pretty good supply/demand scenario for themselves; force people to buy your new OS and subsequently create a market where you can charge them for the services to do so.
So as I say goodbye to my old friend, I truly feel a bit trepidatious about my future with Windows. I don’t see myself adopting OS X, as I enjoy building PCs and have fallen in love with the platform over the years. Let’s hope this new direction is just a passing fad and Microsoft is quick to get back on track in making the next version of Windows a 20-year dynasty.
In the meantime I’m storing my old CD-ROM of Windows 98 Special Edition for safe keeping...just in case.