Windows XP

Windows XP
Version of Microsoft Windows
OS familyWindows NT
Architecturex86, IA-64
Latest build5.1.2600.5512 (Service Pack 3)
Release date2001-10-25
Support end2014-04-08
Starter Edition
Home Edition (K, N, KN)
64-Bit Edition
Professional (K, N, KN, x64)
Media Center Edition
Tablet PC Edition
Server counterpart
Windows Server 2003
Windows 2000 Professional
Windows Me
Replaced by
Windows Vista

Windows XP (codenamed Whistler) is an operating system developed by Microsoft. It was released to manufacturing on 24 August 2001 and later made generally available on 25 October 2001.[1] It is the first consumer version based on the Windows NT codebase, succeeding both the NT-based Windows 2000 Professional and the 9x-based Windows Me. It was ultimately succeeded by Windows Vista in 2006 after several delays in its development although some users opted to stay with Windows XP due to Vista’s higher system requirements and initial instability.

Main changes[edit | edit source]

Interface[edit | edit source]

Windows XP received a major UI overhaul during development through the introduction of visual styles. Users could change the way windows and buttons looked with the new Luna visual style, a colorful, cartoon-like design that featured three color schemes based on the colors blue, green, and silver. The new visual style was the subject of mild criticism from end-users, with some consumers describing the visual style as bearing a resemblance to a "Fisher-Price toy."[2][3] Users were given the ability to switch back to the older Windows Classic visual style from previous versions of Windows and customize the preset Windows Classic color schemes.

Windows Explorer[edit | edit source]

The Windows Explorer shell received a major overhaul in its design and functionality. Most notably, a new Start menu design was introduced, featuring two separate columns for frequently-used applications and shortcuts to common system folders used throughout the operating system as well as details for the currently logged-on user. Users can manually switch to the legacy Start menu design included as part of older Windows NT releases, which would ultimately be removed in early Windows 7 development builds. The task pane, a list of actions that users can perform depending on the item's content, was additionally implemented into the existing user interface. Microsoft Agent-based search companions were also introduced as a personalization option for the already-existing search functionality. Images can now directly viewed within the Explorer shell through the use of the Filmstrip view, and disc burning support was greatly expanded with support for the rewritable DVD-RAM format.

The taskbar is locked by default for new user accounts to prevent accidental resizing or moving of the taskbar and/or the toolbars. Multiple instances of an application are now grouped automatically, and inactive tray area icons are hidden after a period of time to prevent cluttering within the taskbar.

Logon screen[edit | edit source]

A simplified login screen design was also introduced, allowing easier management of multiple accounts despite only allowing five accounts at maximum. Fast user switching was also implemented alongside the reworked logon screen, allowing individuals to quickly log onto their accounts on a shared computer without needing to log out of another user's session – this functionality could only work if the new logon screen was enabled. The legacy logon prompt from Windows 2000 was largely retained in order to support domain-joined computers.

Text anti-aliasing support[edit | edit source]

Windows XP saw the introduction of ClearType anti-aliasing, which allows for better text legibility on desktop computers with LCD-TFT monitors and laptops. As the feature had negatively affected CRT monitors, it was not enabled by default. It was later enabled by default in Windows Vista and later versions of Windows.

Applications[edit | edit source]

Windows XP introduced substantial changes to varying applications, as well as the addition of several new applications. Updated versions of Internet Explorer and Outlook Express were introduced, bringing with them minor incremental usability improvements while also focusing on security changes. An address book was introduced into Outlook Express, allowing users to quickly add, edit and remove contacts as well as providing the ability to directly send e-mail messages to them via the aforementioned e-mail client.

Communications facilities in the operating system have also received significant changes. Updated versions of the MSN Explorer were also added into the operating system, providing an overhauled user interface and a reworked onboarding experience, and a new version of the Windows Messenger application was added to the operating system. Users can now offer online assistance to other users through the Remote Assistance application, a Terminal Services client that lets support users resolve issues by viewing or controlling a Windows computer over a network or on the Internet.

The Windows Picture and Fax Viewer was introduced, featuring support for the JPEG, BMP and PNG formats as well as out-of-box support for sent/received faxes and basic image rotation and zooming capabilities. An overhauled version of the Windows Media Player application was introduced, featuring a reworked user interface with improved CD and DVD playback support, digital rights management functionality, and support for tuning into online radio stations. A basic video editor is also included as part of the operating system.

Full Unicode support for WordPad was implemented. A new keyboard layout toolbar dubbed the "Language Bar" was added to the operating system, offering the option to switch between input layouts assigned by the user.

Windows Product Activation[edit | edit source]

Windows Product Activation, a new form of digital rights management technology, was added to the operating system with the incentive of preventing software piracy – every installation of Microsoft Windows is assigned a unique installation identifier to distinguish individual copies from one another. Users must activate their copy of Windows XP in order to enforce the relevant provisions of the license agreement about using the product on multiple computers. Activation was done over the internet or over an automated telephone line. If the user does not activate the operating system after the initial 30-day grace period, the user will be unable to log onto Windows unless it is activated. If the user attempts to perform significant changes to the hardware, the license associated with the device is voided and the operating system must be re-activated.

Compatibility Mode[edit | edit source]

Compatibility modes for older applications targeting specific Windows operating systems were also added and are now activated out-of-box. This feature allows users to run older programs by selecting an earlier version of Windows that the program previously ran on, tricking them into assuming they are running under that version. Compatibility modes can be set for a program through its properties or by launching the Program Compatibility Wizard located in the Help and Support Center.

This feature was previously in Windows 2000 Service Pack 2, being backported late into Windows XP's development. In addition to modes for Windows 2000 and Me, display settings for running applications under 256 colors, 640x480 resolution, and disabling visual themes were implemented.

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

Windows XP introduces an error reporting system that sends application or system crash data to Microsoft for further analysis, allowing the company to resolve bugs that lie within the operating system or related applications. Automated wireless network configuration was introduced in the operating system, allowing systems to connect to wireless access points without requiring specific configuration tools from the hardware manufacturer.

It is now possible to generate a dedicated backup image of the user's documents and application settings via the Automated System Recovery utility, Password reset disks can now be generated by the operating system, acting as a last resort if the user forgets their password or if an unauthorized individual changes the account password with malicious intent. Drivers can now be quickly rolled back to a previous version if a newer version causes issues with the operating system, such as system crashes or application misbehavior. The operating system now includes an option to help clean the user's desktop up through a dedicated Desktop Cleanup Wizard, which moves unused desktop shortcuts into a separate folder.

Prefetching, a functionality that improves application startup time by caching the required application dependencies such as dynamic link libraries, was added to the operating system to optimize overall application performance. DirectX 8.1 was introduced in Windows XP, and a fax console has been added.

Deprecations and removals[edit | edit source]

Windows XP drops the ability to upgrade from both Windows NT 3.51 and Windows 95, requiring at least Windows 98 or Windows NT 4.0. Subsequent service packs would later gradually drop the ability to upgrade from Windows NT 4.0, 98, 98 SE and Me, requiring Windows 2000 at minimum. Support for the 486 CPUs and the SGI Visual Workstation 320 and 540 computers was dropped during development.

Varying networking protocols such as AppleTalk, NetDDE, NetBEUI and Data Link Control have been deprecated or otherwise removed from the operating system. Several communications applications such as the Phone Dialer and Windows NetMeeting have been deprecated, although they remain accessible in the operating system. Support for running OS/2- and POSIX-based applications was dropped from Windows, with Windows Services for UNIX acting as a replacement, whereas the DriveSpace compression utility was removed in favor of native NTFS compression support.

The reworked Windows Media Player application also brought with it the removal of the Deluxe CD Player and DVD Player applications due to the former's improved support with DVD and audio CD playback. Later versions of the Media Player would also remove version 6.4 from the operating system due to a lack of use throughout the operating system's lifespan.

Service Pack 2[edit | edit source]

Minor functionality deprecations were introduced in Service Pack 2: sending TCP and UDP network packets over a raw network socket (as well as associating local network addresses over raw sockets) were removed from the operating system, and messages in Outlook Express are no longer archived/compacted in the background in favor of an automatic compaction routine that is ran after the e-mail client is run for every hundredth time.

The legacy Windows NT Program Manager shell was removed; the executable now acts as a compatibility stub that launches the Windows Explorer shell.

Service Pack 3[edit | edit source]

Changes to underlying setup functionality were instituted within Service Pack 3, removing support for floppy disk-based boot media and the ability to install Service Packs cumulatively, requiring a newer Service Pack to be present in the base operating system install first; these changes, however, do not affect slipstreaming Service Packs into existing installation media. The Remote Desktop Connection client from Windows Vista was backported to Windows XP to provide forward compatibility with newer Windows versions, as a result of protocol architecture reworks instituted by the former operating system.

It is no longer possible to display the address bar onto the taskbar, nor is it possible to display the Internet Explorer special application icon onto the desktop.

Editions[edit | edit source]

  • Home Edition: This edition is for home and personal users who do not need to use corporate network, security, and management features (such as joining domain networks, file encryption, Remote Desktop Connection, group policies, etc.) This version can address up to 4 GB of random access memory, and it only supports a single physical processor (though multiple cores and threads are supported).
    • Starter Edition: A sub-variant of the existing Home Edition first introduced in 2004 (alongside the launch of Service Pack 2), intended for emerging markets utilizing low-cost personal computers. It cannot launch more than three programs at a time and included an artificial installed memory limitation of up to 512 MB of RAM.
  • Professional: The mainstream high-end version, sold alongside Home Edition. It supports up to two physical processors and includes enterprise features such as group policy management, domain support and file encryption.
    • 64-Bit Edition: This was a special edition for Itanium-based computers. There were two releases, the first of which was released in 2001 and was based on Windows XP; the second of which was released in 2003 and was based on Windows Server 2003. Support for these versions was dropped in 2005.
    • Professional x64 Edition: This was the version for x86-64 processors based on Windows Server 2003. It was released in 2005.
  • Media Center Edition: This version acts as a software-based solution for multimedia devices such as DVD players, digital television and digital video recorders; it was not normally sold to consumers and could only be obtained by purchasing specific entertainment hardware. System requirements are significantly higher than in other Windows editions due to its strong focus on multimedia.
  • Embedded: Intended for the embedded hardware sector. Enterprises can create a customizable Windows XP Professional image through the use of an image builder utility, allowing them to add and remove features or drivers as needed and then later deployed to hardware built for specific solutions such as medical equipment, car manufacturing, point-of-sale terminals and automated teller machines.
  • Tablet PC Edition: This version was included in tablet computers from 2002 to 2007. It is the tablet-optimized version of Windows XP.
  • N, K and KN editions: The N version was made for the European markets and did not include Windows Media Player;[a] the K version was made for the South Korean markets and included two shortcuts to Korean websites offering media player and messenger software by default, after a South Korean Fair Trade Commission ruling. The KN edition is the Korean counterpart to the N edition. (Although these editions are designed to comply with Korean business competition law, these editions are potentially still in violation of another Korean law, that being of game rating requirement law, as built-in Windows games were not rated by the Korean game rating board until Windows 7.)
List of Windows XP editions and derived releases[b]
Name Codename Based on Release date Supported until
Windows XP Home Edition Personal 2001-10-25 2014-04-08
Windows XP Professional
Windows XP 64-Bit Edition Professional 2005-01-05
Windows XP Embedded Mantis 2002-01-30 2016-01-12
Windows XP Media Center Edition Freestyle 2002-10-28 2014-04-08
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2002-11-07
Windows XP 64-Bit Edition, Version 2003 2003-03-28 2005-01-05
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 Harmony 2003-09-30 2014-04-08
Windows XP Starter Edition Home Edition 2004-08-11
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 Lonestar Professional 2004-08
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 Symphony 2004-10-12
Windows XP Professional x64 Edition 2005-04-25
Windows Embedded for Point of Service Embedded 2005-06-06 2016-04-12
Windows XP Home Edition N Reduced Media Edition Home Edition 2005-07-01[c][6] 2014-04-08
Windows XP Professional N Professional
Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs Eiger Embedded 2006-05-31
Windows XP Home Edition K Home Edition 2006-08
Windows XP Home Edition KN
Windows XP Professional K Professional
Windows XP Professional KN
Windows Embedded Standard 2009 Quebec Embedded 2008-10-16 2019-01-08
Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 2008-12-09 2019-04-09

Marketing[edit | edit source]

Windows XP was initially marketed with the slogan Prepare to Fly, although it was later changed to Yes You Can[7] as a direct result of several real-world terrorist attacks occurring on 11 September 2001.[8][9] The TV advertisements used the music track Ray of Light from Madonna as background music.[7] The initial marketing campaign was refreshed in 2004 with the release of Service Pack 2, with the slogan once again changed to Everything is Possible. This campaign ran until late 2006. The term "XP" in the product's name stood for eXPerience, reflecting the new user interface brought forth by Luna and its variants, and was referenced heavily in its advertising campaign.

Initially, it was rumored that Windows XP would be released in early 2002, which Microsoft denied in that it would already be released on 25 October 2001.[10]

Misattributed beta sounds[edit | edit source]

No Windows XP build has made use of or even included the widespread startup and shutdown sounds. These originate from a Whistler theme from ThemeWorld, which includes an entire sound scheme of sounds from various sources such as Plus! 98, although these are not as widespread. The first fake startup sound using Windows 98 Plus!'s World Traveler shutdown sound, PhotoDisc startup sound, and Architecture shutdown sound, and the second version using Windows 98's shutdown sound reversed, Windows 2000 build 1983.1 to build 2000.3's startup sound reversed, and the Next Level sound from a game titled Spring Weekend included in the Microsoft Entertainment Pack slowed down, while the shutdown sound is from BeOS, albeit down sampled.

In actuality, all builds up until 2485 use the same sounds as Windows 2000 and Me. Build 2481 introduced the sounds used in the final release (albeit in stereo and 44.1 kHz), but they were not used by default at this point.

System requirements[edit | edit source]

According to Microsoft, Windows XP requires a Pentium processor running on 233 MHz, at least 64 MB of RAM, 1.5 GB of hard drive space, and a Super VGA or better display adapter.[11] Windows XP updates the default VGA driver to take advantage of VESA BIOS extensions, allowing true color display and resolutions in the default VGA driver, although this requires a graphics card that supports SVGA.

Source code leak[edit | edit source]

On 23 September 2020, the source code for the RTM builds of Windows XP Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2003 leaked onto 4chan's /g/ board. As referenced within the original post, the code had been circulating in private circles for several years at most. Due to the incompleteness of both source code repositories, primarily within the activation functionalities, it is fair to assume that the disclosure had originated from a Microsoft Partner who had access to the source code rather than Microsoft themselves. The ability to glance into the groundwork of this operating system has led to some discoveries, an example being the checks for enabling the DirectUI-based Start Page from shell\explorer\tray.cpp being usable in build 2410.

Additional products in the source code[edit | edit source]

As Windows ships with numerous utilities, the source code to Windows XP SP1 and Windows Server 2003 additionally comes with the source code to many different components and utilities of Windows that could be installed separately:

  • .NET Framework 1.1 (Server 2003 only, including a file (Avalon.UI.dll) from an extremely early (~Feb 2002, although compiled in August) version of the Windows Presentation Foundation framework (the version is the .NET version, and 6.0.3699.0 would indicate a lower version than the RTM of .NET 1.0 in Feb 2002, 6.0.3705.0), and a .NET Version Information Utility from 1998).
  • Internet Explorer 6.0 SP1
  • NetMeeting 3.01
  • Microsoft UDDI Services 1.0 (an Internet service discovery platform)
  • DirectX 8.1
  • Windows Media Player 5.1 (but not 6.4 or 8/9)
  • Zone Internet Games (client and shared code) 1.2
  • Microsoft Speech API (SAPI) 5.1
  • Windows Update Agent v3 and v4

Support[edit | edit source]

"Retiring Windows XP" page - Microsoft Windows' official page

It is one of Microsoft's longest-lasting operating systems, with almost 13 years of support (both mainstream and extended) and still runs on 0.39% of computers worldwide as of March 2024.[12] Mainstream and extended support ended on 14 April 2009 and 8 April 2014 respectively.

However, due to its moderate popularity even after support was dropped, Microsoft ultimately released three emergency updates in order to patch major security vulnerabilities in 2014, 2017, and 2019 respectively. On 9 April 2019, support ended for Windows Embedded POSReady 2009, the last Windows XP derivative product to be still officially supported.

List of known builds[edit | edit source]

Beta 1[edit | edit source]

Beta 2[edit | edit source]

Release Candidate 1[edit | edit source]

Release Candidate 2[edit | edit source]

Pre-RTM[edit | edit source]

RTM[edit | edit source]

Service Pack 1[edit | edit source]

Beta[edit | edit source]

RTM[edit | edit source]

Service Pack 2[edit | edit source]

Beta[edit | edit source]

Release Candidate 1[edit | edit source]

Release Candidate 2[edit | edit source]

Pre-RTM[edit | edit source]

RTM[edit | edit source]

Service Pack 3[edit | edit source]

Beta[edit | edit source]

RTM[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. The N edition was originally known as the Reduced Media Edition, a name which was rejected by the European Commission as it was deemed not appealing to consumers.[4][5]
  2. Name in italics marks a client release based on the newer Windows Server 2003 codebase.
  3. Release date for the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Released on 15 July 2005 in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Poland, and Portugal.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Microsoft. Windows XP Is Here!, Microsoft PressPass. 25 October 2001.
  2. Manes, Stephen. Full Disclosure: Your Take on Windows' Worst Irritations, PC World. 26 August 2004.
  3. Bright, Peter. Memory lane: before everyone loved Windows XP, they hated it, Ars Technica. 10 April 2014. Archived from the original on 10 April 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2023.
  4. Evers, Jovers. Windows XP without Media Player gets an 'N', Computerworld. 28 March 2005. Archived from the original on 7 December 2021.
  5. Bekker, Scott. European Windows Called 'Windows XP Home Edition N', Redmond. 28 March 2005.
  6. Microsoft. Microsoft to Release Windows XP Home Edition N and Windows XP Professional N in Europe, Microsoft PressPass. 8 June 2005.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Microsoft. Windows XP "Yes You Can" TV commercial. 17 October 2001.
  8. Day, Julia. Microsoft scraps 'fly' slogan after US attacks, The Guardian. 12 October 2001.
  9. "Windows XP": Neuer Slogan für neues Betriebssystem, ntv (in German). 12 October 2001.
  10. Windows XP kommt bereits im Oktober, ZDF.MSNBC (in German). 13 May 2001. Archived from the original on 11 June 2001.
  12. Desktop Windows Version Market Share Worldwide, StatCounter.