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Ten years ago today, on Oct. 25, 2001, Microsoft released Windows XP to the world. A decade later, much of the technology world is completely different, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at many PCs today. Almost half of personal computers around the world are still running Windows XP — like a threadbare winter coat so comfortable that it’s difficult to take to the Goodwill.

Microsoft is marking the anniversary by acknowledging the significance of Windows XP in the evolution of its flagship product line. But for business customers, in particular, the company is also using the occasion to make the case that it’s finally time to move on.

Click image for Microsoft infographic.

The company has come up with a fun infographic to support its argument, pointing out everything that has changed in the world since 2001.

“If you think back to XP, obviously it introduced a bunch of different things,” said Rich Reynolds, Windows Commercial general manager. “The user interface made it easier, faster and fun. It mainstreamed photography. It mainstreamed wireless, it mainstreamed plug-and-play. There was a bunch of great things that it did in its time … but the nature of work has changed.”

To illustrate how much things have changed, Reynolds told the story of recently connecting over WiFi on an Alaska Airlines flight somewhere over the Rockies and using the DirectAccess feature of Windows 7 Enterprise to access the corporate network and collaborate on a document in real time with someone in India using the Lync collaboration tools — not doable on a Windows XP machine.

Rich Reynolds

One reason that so many business are still using Windows XP is that so many of them were reluctant to shift to its successor, Windows Vista, which was plagued by glitches and compatibility problems with drivers and software. Microsoft has seen much faster adoption of Windows 7, which already accounts for more than 30 percent of the market.

Apart from touting the virtues of Windows 7 and Office 2010, Microsoft points to the upcoming April 8, 2014, end of support for Windows XP.

“In most enterprise customers it takes anywhere from 12 to 18 to 24 months just to plan the deployment,” Reynolds said. “We want to make sure they are starting to move because they may be at risk of making the April 8 2014 date, because of the time it takes to plan and deploy applications.”

OK, fair enough, but in the meantime, we can’t help but reminisce with this awesome Bill Gates video.

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