I have had three personal Windows
XP Pro machines since 2002, one desktop and two laptops.
have never once had to rebuild Windows on any of them, despite
frequent and heavy use. One of them is used by my teenage
son. They have almost never crashed or
bluescreened (I can count the number of
times on my fingers).
I believe the two key reasons they have
been stable are:
I think it has also helped that:
The desktop was a
box with parts obtained from CCL Computers and Newegg (converted to a
Linux server a few years ago, for reasons unrelated to XP stability);
the laptop has been an IBM Thinkpad T42. Several years ago, I
built XP Pro on a VAIO laptop for my son, based on the principles
mentioned here. At the time, he was 11 years old. That
laptop never had to have XP rebuilt on it either. We finally
converted it successfully to Windows
7, which (finally!) follows the nonadmin principle by default.
- I have
rarely installed any games on these PCs. For games, there has
usually been a "sacrificial" PC (less stable long-term but with various
speed modifications) on which the kids have not minded reinstalling
Windows from time to time.
- I don't do
any hardcore software development on my Windows machines, reserving
that for Solaris and Linux. I use my Windows machines as network
clients to the software I am developing and running on separate servers
(usually Solaris, Linux or other Unix).
- I don't run
server software on my Windows desktop or laptop machines. I run
such software on Unix or Windows servers, and connect over the network.
- I installed
XP Pro and not XP Home Edition. XP Pro permits more flexibility
in security configuration and in overall control.
I have also performed regular backups, for the past few years using
for automated backups to a Linux server.
more general thoughts on keeping Windows PCs (and therefore, just
possibly, one's self) happy and
stable, click here.
- Upgrading from XP to Windows 7
Last year I
updated my son's Vaio laptop from XP Pro to Windows 7. It was a
completely smooth upgrade.
After backing up all files to a removable disk, I used the "Clean
Reinstall" option from the Windows 7 upgrade CDs. Supposedly,
this removes all of your old user files, but in fact, the upgrade
leaves them in an obviously-named folder on the disk, whence they can
be retrieved after the upgrade. I'd still recommend the prior
"nonadmin" and other principles above have been observed in the new
Windows 7 setup.
- Why I switched to Ubuntu for my laptop
In 2009, I
converted my T42 laptop from XP to Ubuntu, and have never looked
back. The reason was NOT because of any inherent deficiency in
XP, which was still running with no issues. You can read about my
Ubuntu setup here.
The reason I finally turned my back on Microsoft for my personal laptop
needs was their asinine management of the IE8 upgrade (a continuation
of asinine approaches I've seen from them for the past 20 years), and
their backward ideas on software architecture and overall priorities,
which destroyed my perfectly-functional XP installation for no good
Memo to Microsoft: A browser such as IE8 is a user-level program,
not something that should have any impact at the OS/system level.
And if you've determined that IE8 has crashing problems if my
particular Intel wireless driver is installed, then the solution is to
FIX YOUR SILLY BROKEN BROWSER, and NOT TO DISABLE MY WIRELESS DRIVER!
Sheesh. If someone had appendicitis, I guess Microsoft would
remove their intestine and leave the appendix in there.
Worse, their act of disabling the wireless driver also damaged the
Windows authentication stack, so that after a few days I could no
longer even log into the laptop. It turns out that this was a
Having had enough of Microsoft's lousy attitude toward its customers,
and a software upgrade that was either designed by morons or meant to
force me to Windows 7 by deliberately breaking my XP, I finally went to
Ubuntu for this laptop. It boots faster, runs all my Windows
software (under Crossover),
and I don't need to run a darn antivirus. For the most part, I
like using it more than I did XP.
Sorry Microsoft. I tried to be nice. Enough is enough
- Still on Vista
At work, I still
use Windows on the desktop - Vista in this case. In order to get
decent performance out of it, an ungodly amount of CPU power is
required, and compared to XP or Windows 7 it is ridculously klunky in
some ways, most notably in how it handles "waiting" applications at
logout/shutdown time, and noticeably slow in others.
I did insist on the nonadmin model for my desktop Vista machine, having
local admin rights only on a second, lesser XP machine I use for
development. As with my home Windows machines, it's been quite
stable. I still follow the practices above, which include
developing and running software only on separate server-class machines,
mostly Unix, to which I connect remotely.