Sunday, January 4, 2009

You can still buy Windows XP

One little delusion Linux advocates like to spread is that Microsoft is somehow forcing people to upgrade to Windows Vista, that it is impossible to get Windows XP, that you have to buy Vista. If only it were true.

I just went over to, did a search for "Windows XP home edition Spanish" and "Windows XP pro Spanish" and right away found a number of dealers selling legal copies of XP Home for about $100 and XP Pro for about $150. Amazon's software store also has it, albeit in a harder-to-find form: I had to ask for "Windows XP professional Spanish".

What was this about Windows XP being hard to get from Microsoft again?

Now, yeah, I will admit that Microsoft did phase out XP and replaced it with Vista on new computers a little more quickly than they should have; I know there has been a lot of consumer dissatisfaction with this (people have been grumbling about Vista, my mother doesn't like how Vista is really slow to boot up on her computer, my girlfriend doesn't like how it's difficult to have MSN and Skype open at the same time on her computer with 1 gig of ram, etc.). Vista was a mistake because, you know, your average user doesn't care for all of that eye candy, but they do care that their applications that ran fine under XP in their old computer are now dog slow under Vista.

That said, it still is possible to get XP, and, yeah, Microsoft and most OEMs still support XP. For example, Microsoft made one patch that gives XP SDHC support available; another to give XP WPA2 support. The only problem I have had getting new hardware to work with XP is with the sound driver; there is a bit of a song and dance one has to do to get sound to work.

Now, compare this to CentOS 3.x, the only Linux from the same era as the first release of Windows XP that is still supported. Support is very limited: Security patches only. Forget about getting new drivers. Forget getting your new computer to work with CentOS 3.

Linux is far worse when it comes to forced upgrades. I really wish CentOS 3 could run fine with full driver support on my 2007-era laptop, the way XP can. I really wish it was still possible to play the late 1990s/early 2000s Loki games for Linux on a version of Linux that fully supports my laptop from 2007.

But, no, Linux forces you to upgrade, whether you want to or not. I spent good money getting commercial games for Linux; those games no longer run in Linux. I finally broke down and bought the Windows version of a game I bought for Linux back in 1999 (Heroes of Might and Magic III) this last winter so I can continue to play this game. And, yes, the game runs fine in Windows.