Windows XP is an old and reliable workhorse. To this day, there are consumers that insist on XP simply because of its reliability. Many consumers, largely businessmen and the young gamer community, have uninstalled their more recent software in order to run XP. This recent systems were such as the notoriously buggy ME, or Millenium Edition. It may be a little clunky at first, but this is part of its reliability.
Service Pack 3 does come with its own set of caveats. It is a reliable system, but it is still a Windows system. It does crash, and depending on what was running, it may crash often. Like everything else, XP requires maintenance such as constant anti-virus scans, firewalls, and the occasional disk defragmenting.
Initially getting it to run can also be a headache, but an understandable headache. Paranoid of having their software pirated—and for good reason—Microsoft released every copy with a certain anti-piracy countermeasures. These countermeasures enforce that the new user register his copy with Microsoft by use of the correct CD key and either a telephone call or internet. The user has 30 days to “activate” the software in this method. This is all fine and good, but XP is old. CD keys are often lost, even though it was acquired through a perfectly legal transaction. During the 30 day period, the user can navigate the interface as normal, but after that the user is forced into the activation.
There are a certain number of authorized computers that one copy of XP can support, again to prevent piracy and also for Microsoft to sell its product. As a consequence, it is common for a friend to lend his copy to another or simply peel off a new system off another computer and replace it with the reliable XP.
Once XP does run, it proves itself to be something of a classic novel. Perhaps it shows its age compared to the bells and whistles of a new system like 7, but the reason that many colleges have installed XP on new machines will soon become readily apparent when compared to other operating systems, even recent ones.