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Why Windows XP might have been Microsoft’s best blueprint for a tablet OS

Published Apr 9th, 2014 12:15AM EDT
Why Windows XP Is Good

One of Microsoft’s bigger frustrations over the past couple of years has been the continued devotion to Windows XP, the operating system that’s been around for more than a decade and that still has a devoted following despite the fact that Microsoft is pulling support for it after Tuesday.

PCWorld’s Mark Hachman has written an obituary for Windows XP and as part of it he interviewed his own father about why he’s refused to upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8 and has stubbornly insisted on staying with XP for as long as he can. The elder Hachman’s reasons for sticking with XP are fascinating because they highlight something that Microsoft has struggled with as it’s tried to build a popular platform for tablets.

“For what we wanted, it’s been absolutely perfect,” Mr. Hachman told his son. “It’s been very easy to use. We’ve had no problems with it. It’s been very user friendly, from what I can see… we just use it for very basic Internet use.”

Let’s think about this for a second: An intuitive, user-friendly platform that’s perfect for basic Internet use and other fairly uncomplicated applications… why, that sounds a lot like what Microsoft was trying to accomplish with the much-hated Metro display on Windows 8! In fact, as Microsoft UX designer Jacob Miller wrote earlier this year, “Metro… is designed for casual users who only want to check Facebook, view some photos, and maybe post a selfie to Instagram.”

There’s a great deal of irony to this. Microsoft decided to build a completely new touch interface from the ground up with Windows 8 to make the OS more friendly to casual PC users. However, it already had the blueprint for a simple and intuitive OS that worked well for basic PC functions in the form of Windows XP. This looks like a situation where Microsoft may not have realized just how valuable Windows XP could have been as a starting building block for a future tablet OS.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.


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