Yesterday, October 25th 2011 marked the 10 year anniversary of Windows XP being released to the public back in 2001. Back then I was just starting my A Levels. Wow, it’s been a long time indeed.
Even though Win XP came out during my high school days, I didn’t actually try it out until next year when I started university and got my own computer for the first time. Before that it was just high riding on Win 98 and (gasp!) Win ME on my Pentium III machine.
As with everyone else, my first few weeks with Win XP were spent just admiring how “smooth” everything looked and felt. My machine at that time was a humble AMD Athlon XP 1600+ with 256MB RAM and a GeForce 4 MX 420 graphics card. Also, a 40GB HDD. Good old days, when the original Call of Duty and Unreal Tournament 2k4 were the only two games I played non-stop.
Oh, the anticipation!
Of course, back then I wasn’t so savvy on security, which is why my first ever virus attack was also the most crippling. I’m not sure how, but the first time I got a broadband connection I got a virus as soon as I went online. After my next restart I just couldn’t connect to the internet at all! Obviously at the time I had no idea what was happening.
So I ended up calling BT customer support to figure out why the hell my brand new broadband connection wasn’t connecting to the internet. That’s when the surprisingly helpful CS rep walked me through the whole process of identifying a worm that was running in the background, identified via Taskbar. So to fix my corrupted connection he actually posted a CD which had the worm-remover on it. This was when I realized the true power Taskbar; also the time when I got paranoid about getting online and making sure I always install some antivirus software before going online after a fresh install of Windows. We all learn from our mistakes.
As the years moved on, we had games like FarCry and Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 which forced me to upgrade my measly GF4 MX 420, and at the time the ATI 9800 Pro was all the rage. With every major hardware upgrade, I always had this habit of reinstalling Windows, just to get that “fresh and new” feeling emanating from the whole system, not just the new component.
Also, whenever this came up.
And as the years rolled by, every install of Windows XP was accompanied with and install of Firefox and Avira AV (one of the top free antivirus software at the time). Then came Office and all the rest of my game installs. Security became a huge concern, and I remember dabbling with Comodo firewall for over a year before I got sick of all the popups asking my permission to allow various programs internet connectivity. I soon came to rely on Windows Firewall, which, while basic, always seemed like it got the job done.
I remember as the release for Vista was closing in, many people had already started using the widgets and the shiny new desktop look into XP itself. Those were some really nice experimental days, times when a good screensaver mattered to me. Nowadays I’m just happy with the beautifully simplistic look of Win 7 and don’t even bother with a screensaver, turning off the monitor feels better.
Throughout my time with Windows XP, I never once felt that the OS was weak in any way. I loved the insane lengths to which I could customize it without breaking much. I also learned the importance of security with firewalls and antivirus and how to properly “maintain” my hard drive so that my PC never really slowed down. If at anytime I did get the infamous BSOD, I could always track it to faulty hardware or some crappy obscure program that I installed.
The "secret" Royale Noir being my personal favorite theme.
For me Windows XP really was the OS I grew up with, because as the OS matured, I learned more from my mistakes and those of others as well. After the disaster that was Vista, which I thankfully never tried, I came to Windows 7, which seems like the true successor to Windows XP. Still, on the rare occasions when I do see Windows XP, nostalgia comes running back, bringing with it good memories and hard earned lessons. Also, sometimes the digits FCKGW-RHQQ2-YXRKT-8TG6W-2B7Q8 flash across my eyes.