Originally codenamed Whistler, Windows XP was released to the public in October of 2001. It was a hybrid of two well established microsoft products. Microsoft Windows 2000 and Windows NT The "XP" is short for Windows eXperience. It comes in two versions. The first is a home edition which is installed on many Home PC's. The second is the professional version which generally is aimed at company's or those who manage networks and require a higher level of security.
Windows deviated completely from its predecessors (WinMe, Window 98 and Windows 3.11/3.10) by encorporating a completely new interface look and ability to change that look. It also, for the very first time allowed updates to be downloaded automatically over the network. Windows XP was bundled along with a brand new look to Internet Explorer as well as multilingual support. However the most notible change, at least at that time, was the increased reliability when compared to previous versions of windows. Several years on, there have been concerns expressed about the security and reliability of windows XP. To address these concerns Microsoft have released two major upgrades within the first five years of the product's life. A third major upgrade, called SP3, has just recently been released. Every month there is at least one or more minor updates to address security issues.
Windows XP (Home and professional) are now reaching the end of their product life. Microsoft want users to upgrade to their next "cash cow" called Windows Vista. Even though Vista offers the user a more secure operating system environment, it has attracted some negative publicity recently concerning the roll out of drivers for printers, scanners, sound and video cards etc. Currently there are also issues with some programs which worked correctly under Windows XP but do not now work under Vista. These problems are being addressed. However, people who have Windows XP installed on their computer systems, appear reluctant to upgrade to Vista. Even the recent release of a major update by Microsoft for Vista, has done little to persuade people to change.
This has ultimately led to the interest and emergence of Linux as an operating system.