Windows XP is anoperating system produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, and media centers. It was released in 2001. The name "XP" is short for "eXPerience."
Windows XP is the successor to both Windows 2000 Professional and Windows Me, and is the first consumer-oriented operating system produced by Microsoft to be built on theWindows NT kernelandarchitecture. Windows XP was first released on October 25, 2001, and over 400 million copies were in use in January 2006, according to an estimate in that month by anIDCanalyst.It was succeeded byWindows Vista, which was released to volume license customers on November 8, 2006, and worldwide to the general public on January 30, 2007. DirectOEMand retail sales of Windows XP ceased on June 30, 2008. Microsoft continued to sell XP through theirSystem Builders(smaller OEMs who sell assembled computers) program until January 31, 2009.XP may continue to be available as these sources run through their inventory or by purchasing Windows Vista Ultimate or Business and thendowngradingto Windows XP.
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The most common editions of the operating system are Windows XP Home Edition, which is targeted at home users, and Windows XP Professional, which offers additional features such as support forWindows Server domainsandtwo physical processors, and is targeted at power users, business and enterprise clients.Windows XP Media Center Editionhas additional multimedia features enhancing the ability to record and watch TV shows, view DVD movies, and listen to music.Windows XP Tablet PC Editionis designed to run stylus applications built using theTablet PCplatform.
Windows XP was eventually released for two additional architectures,Windows XP 64-bit EditionforIA-64(Itanium) processors andWindows XP Professional x64 Editionforx86-64. There is alsoWindows XP Embedded, a component version of the Windows XP Professional, and editions for specific markets such as Windows XP Starter Edition. By mid 2009, a manufacturer revealed the first Windows XP powered cellular telephone.
TheNT-based versions of Windows are known for their improved stability and efficiency over the9xversions ofMicrosoft Windows.Windows XP presents a significantly redesignedgraphical user interface, a change Microsoft promoted as more user-friendly than previous versions of Windows. A new software management facility calledSide-by-Side Assemblywas introduced to ameliorate the "DLL hell" that plagues 9x versions of Windows.It is also the first version of Windows to useproduct activationto combatillegal copying, a restriction that did not sit well with some users and privacy advocates. Windows XP has also been criticized by some users for security vulnerabilities, tight integration of applications such asInternet Explorer 6and Windows Media Player, and for aspects of its default user interface. Later versions withService Pack 2,Service Pack 3, andInternet Explorer 8addressed some of these concerns.
During development, the project wascodenamed"Whistler", afterWhistler,British Columbia, as many Microsoft employeesskiedat theWhistler-Blackcombski resort.
As of the end of February 2010, Windows XP is the most widely used operating system in the world with a 58.4% market share, having peaked at 76.1% in January 2007.