The world as we know it will end on April 8, 2014. Microsoft will cut off support for Windows XP and- I just learned this researching the date above- for Office 2003. Dozens of tech blogs, no doubt, have already written about the technical details about how 30-something percent of computers still run XP, as well as some massive percentage of ATMs (how is it they don’t crash?), and how the hackers are eagerly waiting April 9 to lay waste to us just as we’re trying to file our online taxes. I’m no tech geek, as I intend to make painfully obvious below, but I found one consistent weakness in each of these articles, and it’s time to set the record straight.
Backwards, Unsophisticated, and Stoopid We Ain’t
These tech geeks, are universally critical of us poor Windows XP users. I’ve seen “backwards” and “unsophisticated” in the articles, and “stupid” repeated over and over in the comments on these articles. A few malicious people suggested that anyone stupid enough to still be running Windows XP deserves what they get when the hackers come calling. The only people on these blogs sticking up for Windows XP users say that some of us are using corporate machines and have no choice in our operating system. But they’re missing the point.
What, Exactly Does an Operating System Do?
I have no frigging idea. To me, as a user, the OS has one purpose, and one purpose only: Don’t get in the way! I don’t turn on my computer to marvel at the OS, I turn it on to use software. As long as the OS gives me access to that software with a minimum number of clicks and doesn’t interfere with my use, then it is performing to its maximum possible effect. Windows XP, for me, does this perfectly. I still use it because there is no reason to change. I would probably still be using Windows 95, if new computer purchases hadn’t forced new OSs on me. And to be honest, I can’t really point out any appreciable differences between 95, XP, or Windows 7 that I recently got at work. (*Ignoring, for now, the obvious difference that my work computer runs a Japanese OS). So why would I go out of my way to pay to upgrade an OS if it’s already meeting my needs?
Interestingly, by my evaluation method, Windows 8 and 8.1 are failures, according to the arguments in the aforementioned tech articles. One guy recommended upgrading to Windows 8.1 because once you get past the Metro Start screen, it’s just as good as Windows 7, and you may just find a use for that Metro Screen capability in the future. So, you’re saying, I have to get through an extra step in my boot up to get my operating system to function the way I like it. Why do I want this? Why the hell would I pay for it?
Turning the Argument on its Head
These tech people who knock XP users, I suspect, are those early adopters of technology. People who believe that new tech is good and that’s all you need to know. Me, I evaluate anything new on the basis of “What is this going to do for me?” If it doesn’t add significantly to my experience, I don’t bother. It’s a careful analysis based on a philosophy of minimalism, rather than the impulse to give in to whatever shiny new paperweight Microsoft, or Apple, or Google decides to wave in front of the masses. Who’s unsophisticated now?
The question is not “Why are you still using XP?” There is never a need to explain why you continue to use the technology you already have. It’s the upgraders who need to explain themselves. If you’ve upgraded for any other reason than “I bought a new PC and this was the only option” then please, add a comment below and tell me what Windows 7 or 8 really has to offer. Mac users, I welcome your advice as well. (Sorry Linux, but Scrivener doesn’t run on your OS yet, and I’m not willing to abandon that).
If you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen, sharing a bottle of Glenfiddich with the chipped laptop and the terminal OS that has seen me through the last 7 years and trying not to cry.