This is a sad, sad day for loyal fans of Windows XP: exactly 999 days from now, Microsoft will officially end support for the operating system, dragging many of us kicking and screaming over to Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 whether we like it or not.
Windows XP was launched in October of 2001, and for users (like myself) who had suffered through Windows 95, Windows 2000 and Windows ME all in succession, XP was pure joy. It was stable, intuitive, and customizable. When Windows Vista came out in January of 2007, many of us took one look and said "thanks but no thanks," and then sat back and smugly watched other computers gasping under the weight of bloated graphics and thousands of security prompts.
It's a testament to the success of Windows XP that when Windows 7 showed up in October of 2009, so many people didn't bother to upgrade, not because Windows 7 was somehow a bad operating system (it's not), but because there's a huge segment of computer users who are simply happy with Windows XP and don't feel the need to change that. XP works great, we all know how to use it, so why spend a bunch of money to relearn another operating system that (for most people) they don't really need? As of May 2011, almost 40% of computers worldwide are still running Windows XP, and I for one would be perfectly happy to keep it that way.
As of 999 days from now, however, there will be a reason to make that switch, as Microsoft's support for XP ends. This means that there will be no more tech support, no more updates, but most importantly, no more patching of vulnerabilities. If day 1,000 rolls around and someone finds a gaping new security hole that lets evildoers remotely access your computer, turn it into a robot, and kidnap your dog — well, that's just tough.
To be fair, Microsoft will have supported Windows XP for like 13 years, which is an astronomical amount of time in the quickly evolving computer world. And by 2014 we'll all have Windows 8 to drool over. Their decision makes sense, and it's hard to argue against it, but personally, it's going to be a sad day when I uninstall Windows XP from my computer for the last time.