My first question was closed for the off-topic reason, but I'm not sure why it's off topic. Before I posted the question I searched and saw other questions about old windows operating systems, and they weren't closed down.

I'd have thought XP would be considered retro now as it was released almost 20 years ago, and it was the best in my opinion since 98.

I'm trying to rebuild a computer for the reasons listed in the exchange's remit; old games, operating systems that are no longer supported, and I'm not using an emulator or a virtual machine. The most modern device that I'm using is a USB, and I explain in the question why that is necessary.

Surely ressurecting a computer that is at least 15 years old, with an operating system that is no longer supported would be something that many people would come to retrocomputing to seek advice for?

  • 5
    I don't have a solid answer, but I can see why there's uncertainty. I imagine a lot of people judge retro by perceived distance from modern-day experiences and Windows XP is close enough to modern, UI-wise, that it sort of exists in a grey area where whether it crosses the "is retro" line depends on who you ask.
    – ssokolow
    Jun 14, 2020 at 15:40
  • 6
    XP is definitely close enough to modern. There are still some functioning XP systems out there, running recent browsers, current antivirus, etc. The line between current & retro does change over time, but XP is still, by most standards, on the "current" side. Jun 14, 2020 at 16:10
  • Should this question have the [scope] tag?
    – tobiasvl
    Jun 14, 2020 at 20:21
  • I would personally include Windows 2000 as modern too but could see the argument that any older Windows or NT would be retro for enough people. Jun 15, 2020 at 5:06
  • There are a lot of opinions going into this, and a lot of thought into the arguments against XP being included in the retro tag. However if we break it down, Microsoft support have removed their help pages on XP, XP is an OS from the days before smartphones took over the mantel of computers, and it is from the days where software and programs were installed instead of "Apps". It is from a different era, and it works completely differently to how 7 and up work. XP is the last of its class, technology has well untruly moved on since the XP days, in how it works and how we use it.
    – user18483
    Jun 15, 2020 at 5:39
  • @user18483 with a little more substance, your comment could be an answer instead. Jun 15, 2020 at 19:10
  • I think XP will become retro when 32bit is No Longer A Thing.. Not sure I agree with the assertion that "XP works completely differently to how 7 and up work". Maiking that claim of 98 or Me would be acceptable; but 10 is 8 is 7 is Vista is XP is 2K is NT
    – Caius Jard
    Jun 15, 2020 at 20:36
  • @OmarL with the way stack works, I don't have the privileges to answer questions, on meta or add comments into my own question on the original. I can't login to the original username, and I still waiting for my profiles to be merged.
    – user18483
    Jun 15, 2020 at 23:54
  • @Caius Jard not too sure about the underlying architecture, but how it's used and in design windows XP has more in common with 98 than it does with 10, and compared to windows 8 it's on a completely different spectrum. I'm not putting anymore effort into it, if the stack exchange dwarf kings decree it's that important that XP is now not recognised, who am I to offer an outsider's logic
    – user18483
    Jun 16, 2020 at 0:07
  • "a computer that is 15 years old" is just an uninteriesting box in my basement, not retrocomputing :-)
    – dave
    Jun 25, 2020 at 0:22
  • @another-dave, profound, have you ever thought about writing a book?
    – user18483
    Jun 25, 2020 at 0:26

2 Answers 2


Three years ago, Windows XP was considered off-topic.

I initially agreed with the close votes, but, now that I think about it, XP should probably be on-topic now. Here are some reasons it was originally considered off-topic:

It's still got 5+% of the desktop market share­. – Mark's answer

Down to 2% now, according to that link. According to this link, it's down to <0.7% as of last month.

Mainly because XP marks the edge of its technology type which is still common with that of Windows 7. Games and applications which run fine on XP will still work correctly on 7-10 in most cases. – Rowan Hawkins's answer

I don't think this has changed. A little more compatibility's been broken, but not all that much.

Another thing which allowed Pre-XP OS's to reach "Retro" status earlier is the fact that there isn't a whole bunch of information on the Web currently for those operating systems. Where as XP and its newer iterations have existed in the time when the Web was prolific. As a result there are still numerous websites with current information reflecting current Hardware and current software. – Also Rowan Hawkins's answer

This has changed. There's a lot less up-to-date XP information, and Microsoft's broken all the XP support links (twice over).

Win XP still receives updates till 2019 – Anixx's answer

This is the past. To paraphrase d2b's answer, Windows XP will be 19 in a few months. Its final release was 12 years ago, mainstream support ended over 11 years ago, extended support ended over 6 years ago, and the final updates for embedded versions (which you could mostly kludge into user versions of the OS via a Windows Update registry hack) ended over a year ago.

Its patents have started expiring – all the patents from the release of XP will have expired in a year and a month.

Your question wasn't tackling an aspect of XP shared with more modern operating systems – it's not about the technology shared by Vista, 7, etc.. As such, I think it's on-topic, regardless of whether XP proper is.

  • 2
    Sorry, but that's way off. A definition that makes anything 'retro' just because it's no longer sold 'retro' is simply ridiculous. With that argumentation Windows 7 is as well 'retro'. More so when, like done here, some subrelease is taken into account. Using that, even Windows 10 would count as retro: Win10 V1507 is obsolete since 5 years. It's a serious bad idea to claim everything longer sold as retro - to become retro it needs to get outdated and old first. Something not reached by XP at all. Not even a sales man would call last years car as 'retro'
    – Raffzahn
    Jun 14, 2020 at 22:08
  • 1
    Beside, Support didn't end 11 years, but 6 years ago as MS did extend the support several times. you may want to change that.
    – Raffzahn
    Jun 14, 2020 at 22:11
  • 5
    I'd disqualify XP on the grounds that it's not that much different to current Windows systems in any particularly interesting way.
    – dave
    Jun 15, 2020 at 0:43
  • “With that argumentation[sic] Windows 7 is as well 'retro'.“ This is a disingenuous point, in the original question I highlighted why I was asking; 1) old computer that is very slow running newer operating systems, 2) Lack of available information on the web, 3) reviving an old computer for recreation purposes. XP and 7 are incomparable. Xp was released before smartphones, and was therefore the last OS where the computer was the key tool for information gathering. The styling also is markedly different, softer and more rounded. It’s an OS of a different era; and therefore by definition, retro!
    – user18483
    Jun 15, 2020 at 1:40
  • @Raffzahn You, unfortunately for me, make good points. But XP certainly has outdated and old aspects, and the question is asking about some of them. Why aren't those on topic?
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Jun 15, 2020 at 7:22

Short answer:

XP is still considered current by many as previous comments show.

Let's look at the facts:

  • Windows XP was introduced in 2001.
  • Active sales to the general public were done until 2009.
  • It was available for professional users until 2014, less than 6 years ago.
  • Official support for the general public lasted as well until 2014.
  • Limited support for large customers is still today available.

But there is not only continued use with professional (mostly embedded) users but with the general public as well:

  • In 2019 XP still a market share among desktop OS of ~5%. That is one in 20 desktop computers still runs XP.

Long story short:

XP sales only stopped recently and XP still enjoys a mainstream user base comparable with Mac OS-X or Linux (on the desktop). So XP is maybe outdated, but still current and most definitely not retro.

  • "Limited support for large customers is still today available." Is it? I thought that ended last year. (Unless you mean the kind of support they're still providing for MS-DOS.)
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Jun 14, 2020 at 20:00
  • @wizzwizz4 Well, I do non know how DOS is still supported, but for XP one can still get support for problems starting from installation all the way to programming and bug fixes. MS earny good money from such users, as XP found a place in many mission critical applications, were it's less expensive to drown MS in money than redoing the application - equally or maybe even more important, less risky for management.
    – Raffzahn
    Jun 14, 2020 at 20:11
  • Yeah, but Microsoft isn't updating it any more. They're can't be making XP any less retro, because they're not changing it in any way.
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Jun 14, 2020 at 20:17
  • 1
    @wizzwizz4 the point is that there is still today support by the manufacturer. It doesn't matter what they change. More important, XP is still in widespread use - as in used by many around the world, so not retro in any way. Keep in mind, the installed PC base worldwide is assumed as anywhere between 2 and 4 billion (2..4*10^9) units, so a mere percent comes down to 20-40 million. So 5% actual XP users comes down 100-200 million users not sure how else to call that than current (that's more than all 8/16 bit home computers ever produced during their years combined).
    – Raffzahn
    Jun 14, 2020 at 21:21
  • Thanks. On a less-constructive note, I'd like to criticise that 5% figure. According to StatCounter (link in my answer), it had 5% of the market share at the end of 2016, but has fallen to less than 0.7% of web-using "computer" machines (a good heuristic for normal (non-Embedded) editions) since. Perhaps XPe isn't retro, but the edition used in the question is surely retro by now.
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Jun 14, 2020 at 21:30
  • 2
    @wizzwizz4 well, numbers are many. So far I'd take any number between 1 and 5% as valid, and even the lower end will make it still quite widely in use. The mentioned 0.7 will result in anywhere between 15 and 30 million users. Afain, more than Commodore ever had in it's 20 years of existence.
    – Raffzahn
    Jun 14, 2020 at 21:58
  • @Raffzahn, big numbers are only big when they're put into context. This is another example where you appear to be disingenuous in your points. Look at the Brexit campaign, £350 million and the "billions" we sent to the EU seemed massive on the face of it, but in the context of total expenditure it was miniscule. Same with the current users of XP. What is 30 million in the context of billions? Nothing. Commodore was from an earlier era where computers were far less widespread, but in the space of seven years (the era of XP), it all changed, and since then it has changed massively.
    – user18483
    Jun 15, 2020 at 5:45
  • Also, @Rffzahn; if Microsoft make good money from still providing support XP then this is only available to companies who pay for this specific consultancy service; I am not a company. I'm just a random person who'd like to get XP running again for recreational tinkering and gaming. Those of us who aren't companies don't have the disposable income to pay for these professional services when all we want to do is play games on an old computer that we'd rather not throw out.
    – user18483
    Jun 15, 2020 at 6:02
  • @user18483 No, I think Raffzahn has a point about the numbers. It's certainly not as disingenuous as the Brexit campaign. Is the wheel "retro", just because it was invented thousands of years ago? And yet a log table is, despite having been invented millennia later.
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Jun 15, 2020 at 7:27
  • @wizzwizz4, when comparing things that are retro, we need to look at technologies that were created for the same thing. Wheels are still in use for the same purposes as they were originally. Log tables would be compared to pocket calculators, to watch calculators to smart phones. They perform the same purpose, but the latter are more efficient. The fact is that between 1994 and 2001, and 2006 to now the technology has evolved massively. It is not comparable to compare numbers of users in 1994 to 2006 and 2020, completely different eras. That's why I think it's disingenuous as it lacks context.
    – user18483
    Jun 15, 2020 at 7:55
  • Personally, I'd argue the 2009-date as the most significant here. // But as to all the rest of your arguments, I'm missing a link to where this meta has hammered out whether anyone of those dates 'makes the cut' (or not, as you assert, but don't link to why in easy numbers). Note that I don't argue either way for the Q, just for this A to be more accessible.) Jun 17, 2020 at 14:42

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