Microsoft’s Windows XP was released to the world on October 25, 2001, as the company’s eighth major desktop operating system.
 
It’s fair to say it was a hit. An estimated 400 million copies were sold within the first five years and it took 2009’s critically-acclaimed successor, Windows 7, more than two years to exceed XP’s market share.
 
It’s arguably Microsoft’s best-ever operating system and an estimated 181 million people are still using it. Here are some things you may not know about Windows XP as it celebrates its 15th birthday.
 
1: Windows XP took 5,734 Microsoft employees 600 days to develop. During that time, 504 Microsoft babies were born and 86,400 Starbucks Frappuccinos were served.
 
2: Ever wondered what XP stands for? It’s Windows eXPerience.
 
3: Windows XP was conceived as two operating systems before Microsoft combined the effort into a single project. The original projects, codenamed Odyssey for enterprise and Neptune for consumers, were unified and Windows XP was born.
 
4: Windows XP’s original codename was ‘Whistler’ after the ski resort in British Colombia where many Microsoft employees vacationed.
 
5: The classic Start menu received its first major shake-up within Windows XP; switching to a two-column view. Users were able to pin favourite apps as well as accessing the All Programs menu from the left-hand column. Common tasks and documents appeared in the right-hand column.
Windows XP boxes
 
6: The taskbar at the bottom of the screen became far less cluttered as XP enabled open windows to be grouped by application for the first time. This was before Internet Explorer added tabs, so it was really handy if you had multiple web pages open.
 
7: The marketing campaign slogan ‘Prepare To Fly’ was replaced with ‘Yes You Can’, due to the sensitivities surrounding the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which occurred just weeks before XP was released.
 
8: The advert used the song Ray of Light by Madonna and featured people flying through the air - check it out below.
9: Windows XP required a minimum 64MB of RAM and 1GB of free hard-drive space to run on a PC. Windows 10, released in 2015, needs at least 1GB RAM and 16GB of free hard drive space.
 
10: Due to its enduring popularity and the abject failure of its successor Windows Vista, Microsoft continued to support Windows XP for six years after manufacturers stopped making PCs with the operating system built in.
 
11: Extended support officially ended for Windows XP in April 2014, which meant no more security fixes. During its lifespan there were more than 700 security ‘hotfixes’, 57% of which were deemed ‘critical.’ So, if you’re still using it, you could be putting your PC and its data at risk.
 
 
12: When you consider this, it is surprising Microsoft did not offer a free upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 10. There is a way, but you still need to buy a licence and perform a fresh install on your PC - provided it meets the minimum required specs.
 
13: In August it emerged that the Met Police were still running XP on thousands of computers, despite support ending in 2014. Cash machines still largely run on it too!
 
14: The default background for Windows XP - a photo of rolling hills - is called Bliss. Despite speculation it was shot in Ireland, Charles O’Rear took it in California’s wine country 1996. It is thought to be the most viewed photo of all time.
Windows XP Bliss
 
15: While legend has it Microsoft paid him ‘millions’ for the photo, making it the second most valuable image of all time, O’Rear wishes he’d negotiated a better deal. In 2014 he said: "If I had known how popular it would become and how many computers it would've been on I should've negotiated a [better] deal and said, 'Just give me a fraction of a cent for every time it's seen' and that would've been a nice arrangement."
 
If you’re still using XP check, out our article Give Windows XP a new lease of life.
 
Bliss photo credit: Flickr, Creative Commons.