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Why use old computer operating systems?

Astute computer enthusiasts would do well to ask why Windows XP, let alone Windows 2000 or Windows 9x, would still be running on computers today. Why not just use a more modern version of Windows, like Windows 7 or Microsoft's newest operating system, Windows 10?

Using unsupported operating systems decades after being released is certainly not for fainthearted computer users. But it's not just for retrocomputers and nostalgia either. In recent years, Microsoft has decidely shifted away from making products that truly engage its customers, trying to cater to a smaller, almost nonexistent market while ignoring its longtime customers. Windows 10 is inarguably one of the worst releases of Windows ever — right up there with Windows 8/8.1, Windows Vista, and Windows ME. It's a half-baked operating system that includes tons of unnecessary bloat and too much false and misplaced emphasis on the cloud and mobile, while things as important as native DVD playback support and as simple as Windows Briefcase and Daylight Saving Time reminders have been omitted entirely. Support for the Windows Classic theme was ditched with Windows 8. Tons of customary tweaks are required in order to get the operating system to work the way it "should". Although tweaks have been necessary to increase functionality since Windows 7, they are required more than ever with Microsoft's latest OS.

Older Windows releases, no longer sold or supported by Microsoft, are the perfect answer to this conundrum. Older versions of Windows use far fewer system resources and run much more smoothly on hardware that hasn't been updated in a while, as long as you don't hit the maximum RAM limit (which is 1GB for Windows 98 and 4GB for Windows 2000 Professional or any 32-bit operating system). With an older copy of Microsoft Office, you can be productive in almost no time at all.

Until Microsoft decides to listen to its customers again and make software that actually works, there's no reason you need to force yourself to put up with a half-baked, bloated, limited user experience. Windows 2000 and Windows XP were inarguably the high point of Windows for Microsoft and both operating systems remain to this day decided favorites with many loyal fans who are still using them. So relax — we're not going to tell you to stop running Windows XP! We won't ever try to convince you to "move on" like most so-called "Windows XP holdout guides" do at some point. Join us as we return to the days when Windows was truly an "out of the box experience"!

For more retrocomputing ideas, check out our Retrocomputing playlist as well as our Tech Tidbits playlist.


The Big Picture

Change is one thing —

      Progress is another.

We believe that technological change has the ability to inflict both positive and negative change on individuals and communities as a whole. A growing number of people are embracing a slower, more local, natural lifestyle. In response to modernization, capitalist corporations, and globalization, there is a growing movement of individuals counteracting this change by embracing a more simplistic, traditional lifestyle, characterized by the use of corded telephones instead of cordless or cellular phones, desktop computers instead of laptops and mobile devices, homecooked meals, organic food, slow transport, typewriters, telegrams, record players, DVDs, cassettes, floppy disks, VHS tapes, rural living, natural and holistic healing, acoustic instruments, handwritten letters, print newspapers, cursive handwriting (longhand), microgrids, incandescent light bulbs, renewable energy, classic cars, tiny homes, etc. These individuals have nothing against progress, but they do against progress for progress’ sake. Self-driving cars, augmented and virtual reality, robots, microwave ovens, planned obsolescence and QR codes are big no-nos. They like to slow life down, live in the moment, and immerse themselves in reality.

Planned obsolescene is a big deal today — and so is the backlash against it. Products and software are no longer made to last. They're designed to be disposable, meant to be replaced or upgraded within a few years. Today, sustainability is more important than ever and newer versions of Windows are simply not sustainable anymore with their numerous useless flashy features and high system requirements. In addition, modern versions of Windows are hyper-dependent upon and expect an Internet connection. Everything from activation to updates is designed with that in mind.

So, where do older operating systems like Windows XP and Windows 2000 come in? Simple. They have everything we really need and expect from a computer today — and nothing we don't.