Windows XP


Introduction

Windows XP is an operating system for personal computers introduced by the Microsoft Corporation in 2001 as part of its family of operating systems named Windows NT. It was available to selected users on the 24th of August 2001 and it became generally available on the 25th of October 2001. The Windows XP project development began late in the 1990s as “NEPTUNE” and it was based on the Windows NT platform. Windows XP was originally meant for general consumers, while Windows 2000 was planned for the use of commercial outfits. In January 2000, it was decided to combine both projects under the code name ”Whistler” which was later named Windows XP; XP standing for “experience.’’ It was released in two versions, the “Home” version and the “Professional” version. Windows XP represented a major advancement on the former MS DOS version of windows in several important technical features such as in data security, stability and efficient performance. Windows XP proved to be an instant commercial success and within the first five years of its release, it had sold over 400 million copies and by the 4th month of 2014, it had sold more than a billion copies. Much of this success is down to some specific advances which this version of Windows had over earlier versions for instance in terms of hardware support, a user interface that reflected deeper consideration for both usual and special needs of consumers as well as increased multimedia capabilities.

Innovation and the Special Features of Windows XP

Windows XP had several important technical innovations and features such as:

  1. The user interface. It was given a new visual appearance and it incorporated several important elements such as drop shadows, increased use of compositing effects, visual styles, LCD displays based on a new system for rendering subpixels, and a new default wallpapers; Bliss.

  2. The start menu was also redesigned. It was now based on a two column format and could pin frequently used applications as well as recently documents to the taskbar, list and display them.

  3. Windows opened by one application could now be grouped in a single taskbar button. The different windows were listed in a popup menu.

  4. A notification area was introduced to automatically hide inactive icons. These hidden icons could be displayed by the user when necessary.

  5. The taskbar was also made to be “lockable” as a precaution against unintended changes.

  6. A list for “common tasks” was also included.

  7. Fast user switching was also added to ensure the possibility of switching windows without necessarily closing any of them.

  8. Anti-piracy feature. A new product licensing system designed to limit software piracy was introduced which required each copy of Windows to be licensed.

  9. Start up and application launch times were also improved by using the “Prefetcher” system.

  10. Many important improvements were made to administration tools such as “installer’ and “disk defragmenter.’’

  11. New networking and internet functionalities were added like Internet connection firewall and many others were added.

  12. Many other features were added while many other features were also removed.
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