XP was originally scheduled for a massive rollout on October 25, 2001, however the 9/11 attacks put a severe damper on its release — slumping into the market with lower initial sales than even Windows 98’s release three years prior. Slow adoption by users due to its direct competition with much-lauded Win2000 as well as XP’s increased resource demands and initial driver incompatibilities didn’t help win it any fans either. It wasn’t until desktop hardware performance eventually caught up did XP really take off.
Once it did become established, XP surpassed all other desktop OS systems for longevity. For years, especially after Service Pack 2 released, XP was the be all, end all of PC operating systems — you were a sucker not to use it. Two factors have directly affected that tenure: The explosion of Internet usage and Microsoft’s lack of an heir. The incredible growth of the World Wide Web in the first few years of this century effectively killed off earlier, more-entrenched variations like Win95, that simply couldn’t handle the hardware and security requirements needed to run in a rapidly connecting world. The lack of a follow-up OS played an even bigger role. With no bigger and better OS to look forward to, XP was, by default, the best a PC user could do. Rumblings of the secret Longhorn project ended coming to naught when Microsoft canned the project and Vista, well… was Vista.
Heck, 52 per cent of the desktop PC market still runs XP, however, its doubtful the world will ever see an OS not only stick around for a decade, but remain relevant for that long. Now, even Microsoft is trying to trim its turn-around time between major OS releases to just 2-3 years, a la Apple. Sure, Windows 7 might hit 50 per cent market share before Windows 8 drops, but in 10 years, it’ll be about as relevant as Windows 95 in 2005. [Ars Technica]