What is Windows XP?

windows xp

Microsoft stopped support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. Newer hardware may not have compatible drivers for XP, and some software may not run correctly.

Windows XP introduced several features that have defined the computer user experience since its launch in October 2001. Its colorful interface and ease of use make it a favorite of many.


The XP version of Windows includes new features and improvements, including the ability to customize the operating system appearance using themes. It also offers support for new programming languages such as the object-oriented C# and the Visual Studio.NET suite, and offers a number of “shell powertoys” to enhance existing functions such as Alt-Tab switching, fast user switching and desktop slideshows.

It supports the new GDI+ [15] image library which can display JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF (including animated GIFs), ICO and WMF format files. It also introduces a new common control library which replaces the square 3D look controls used in previous versions of windows and adds a number of new functions.

Unlike earlier Microsoft products, XP uses protected memory to prevent unstable programs from crashing other applications or Windows itself. The XP kernel also allows the system to collect error information and send it back to Microsoft for analysis. This was a change from the previous approach where users had to wait for a blue screen of death in order to receive any error reports.


XP improved support for gaming, digital photography, instant messaging, wireless networking and the Internet. It also added a personal firewall and functionality as both client and server in a peer-to-peer network. It also removed the infamous blue screen of death (BSOD) and replaced it with an error report that sent system information back to Microsoft.

Many legacy applications that were released prior to Summer 2001 were unable to be updated to run under Windows XP. However, many helpful developers would post a simple assurance on their web sites that the application will work with XP, or provide specific instructions for making it so. Alternatively, a user can set the application to run in compatibility mode, although this will only last as long as the program is open. Further customisation of the Compatibility options can be done by right-clicking on an application’s EXE file or its shortcut and selecting Properties. Using the Advanced button will reveal additional options such as ‘Compatible timer hardware emulation’ that may solve some timing problems with older DOS programs and ‘Fast ROM emulation’ for some older floppy disks.


The first thing you will want to do is start up the computer. When the “Press any key to boot from CD” screen appears (it varies from PC to PC what the button is) press a key, (usually F8). This will take you into the XP setup.

Next you will see a screen that allows you to choose how Windows XP is installed on your hard disk drive. If you have an unused partition, highlight it and then press C. If you don’t have an unused partition, highlight the non-partitioned space and then press C.

You will then be asked for your product key. This is very important as it will allow you to install Windows XP properly. You will also need to select a name for your PC. This is used when logging into your desktop, folders and documents. This name will also be displayed on the network. You will then need to set your region and language settings.


In Windows XP, the security options are more tightly integrated with the operating system. In addition, new features provide better control over file associations and prevent users from granting unneeded programs privileged access to the system by using the Open With dialog or File Types tab in Explorer.

To reduce piracy, Windows XP requires activation with Microsoft and will refuse to update on systems that use volume license product keys that were used for unauthorized installations (a Category 1 finding). Windows XP also uses hardware descriptors to distinguish between different storage types and disables write caching by default on mass storage devices to reduce the chance of data loss from surprise removal.

While these tips may mitigate the risk of attack, the best way to minimize vulnerability is to move to a modern OS that receives regular security updates. However, if you must stay on XP to support legacy software or hardware and do not have the resources to upgrade then you should follow these tips to help mitigate risk.