I have two machines running Windows XP, one standard XP Pro, and the other XP 64 Pro. When I apply small changes to them, XP randomly changes all sorts of unrelated settings. Changes also occur when I am not changing anything. I lose an hour or more each week switching XP from it's latest idiot mode back to the correct settings.
At one stage Microsoft advertised something along the lines of
Where do you want to go today. What XP gives you is the classic airline joke
Breakfast in Sydney, dinner in Hawaii, luggage in Alaska.
One of the XPs reinstalled Outlook Express. I deleted Outlook Express and, during the deletion, XP switched on the Windows firewall, switched on indexing of files (but thankfully did not reinstall the indexing program), switched automatic updates on, and removed the Open with option from file lists.
XP does this sort of change a lot and each time it is a different mixture of changes. XP makes this sort of random destructive change many more often than Windows 2000.
Sometimes XP makes this type of change without the excuse of applying updates. A few days ago one of the XP machines switched sounds on without any change of anything by anyone using the computer.`The sound came on when reading some text files.
XP was installed with the sounds option switched from the Windows default to No sounds. XP suddenly decided to switch sounds back on but not back to the default, instead it uses a random collection of sounds switched on. A whole new sound profile appeared with most of the file action and keyboard action sounds switched on but not all of them, and many other default sounds are switcheds off. This weird change happened while reviwing text files.
There is something truely wrong with Windows XP and it is many times worse than 2000, which was many times worse than NT. Linux might be a little bit slower and may be missing a couple of important features but it works the same way every day. Most of my machines use Linux and I am about two changes away from retiring my last XP machine. The remaining XP machine will survive only because it belongs to a customer.
Microsoft Vista was a disaster predictable by extrapolating the way Microsoft rushed XP out the door without adequate testing. Windows 7 has good reviews and sounds like Vista with most of the bad bits removed. Considering it is 10 years from Windows 2000 to Windows 7 and during that whole 10 years Microsoft made almost no attempt to fix basic design faults that were in Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Vista.
If you were an NT user, you had to pay hundreds of dollars to replace NT with Windows 2000 Pro plus pay thousands of dollars, or the equivalent in wasted time, to reduce all the problems created by Windows 2000. Then you had to work through several service packs and all the disruption they created to get a usable Windows 2000. You then had to pay hundreds of dollars to replace Windows 2000 Pro with Windows XP Pro plus pay thousands of dollars, or the equivalent in wasted time, to reduce all the problems created by Windows XP. Then you had to wait for Service Pack 2 to get a working XP. You then had to pay more money and waste more time upgrading to Wiondows XP 64 pro because only the 64 bit version could use the full capabilities of a modern computer.
A current high end Intel processor accepts six memory cards (DIMMs) and each memory card can be 4 gigabytes (GB). Your next desktop computer could have 24 BG of memory, and amount that requires 64 bit processing. Assuming the computer purchasing person in your business is a penny pincher, you will end up with a desktop that has only 4 memory slots and only 2GB in each slot, giving you 8 GB of memory, enough to require 64 bit processing.
When you look at Linux or Unix, the only difference between the 32 bit and 64 bit versions of Linux is the download you choose. There is no cost or licensing differences. You can download both and try them for as long as you like. Windows XP required different purchases. You could swap from XP to XP 64 on come computers because both disks were supplied while others required the purchase of an extra disk. Swapping after installation created licensing problems that changed from month to month. I was lucky and did not purchase a computer in the gap between XP and XP 64. Some customers went through the pain of a double conversion and some of them had additional problems until Microsoft sorted out how the upgrades would be handled.
Considering the trivial differences between the 32 bit and 64 bit code, Microsoft should have made both versions a standard part of a single install.
The main reason for changing from NT to Windows 2000 was Microsoft's refusal to release USB code for NT despite some USB hardware suppliers developing USB code for NT. The only reasons for chaning from Windows 2000 to XP are XP 64 and the suggestion that Microsoft will artificially limit support of USB 3.0 to XP and later versions of Windows.
USB 3.0 hardware is here but support in Windows is not here. Windows XP 64 should already have a service pack available with USB 3.0 support because the changes really are trivial. I bet Microsoft want to limit USB 3.0 support to Windows 7 as a way of forcing people to buy Windows 7. I think I will wait for USB 3.0 support in Ubuntu Linux and complete the conversion from XP to Linux instead of going through the pain of a conversion to Windows 7 then converting to Linux when a future version of Windows makes life difficult.
Windows 7 might be a surprise and work. People who buy new computers with Windows 7 installed are happy. I do not know of many XP to Windows 7 conversions because a lot of XP owners were burned by Vista and are reluctant to change to Windows 7.
I cannot see any advantages in Windows 7 over the 64 bit version of XP. There are some backup options that were in XP but are unlikely to work reliably because they were first released in XP. Those features might be cleaned up and working in Windows 7. I do not use any of those features.
Ubuntu Linux has a very nice feature for automatically installing and maintaining most of the applications I use. There is no equivalent in any version of Windows.
Windows has easier security control for individual users but that is from NTFS, not Windows, and was available from NT onwards, so why would I update?
Most of the applications I use will work on Windows 2000, XP, and Linux. A small number do not mention Windows 7 support, giving me a reason to not replace XP with Windows 7 for a few more months. Some applications have new releases that work with XP but not 2000, forcing me to replace Windows 2000 with XP and, fortunately, I did not have to switch to XP before XP 64 was ready and debugged.
I use just one application that does not have a native Linux version. There are reports of the application working in Linux under Wine. I am not ready to experiment with Wine in Linux because some uses of Wine require all or part of Windows, which defeats the purpose of converting to Linux. I could just keep an obsolete computer on the shelf for the few times I use that one application.
Ease of use
I do use customer's desktop machines and they are Windows based. Staying with Windows makes some things easier. Many of my customers are switching to Firefox and OpenOffice which means I only have to remember enough about Windows to start Firefox and OpenOffice.
Some of those customers use Linux at home and most useLinux for their Web servers. I could change a lot of desktop computers to Linux without people noticing.
Laptop computers are a real sticking point. Many laptops have just one operating system option with no software drivers for Linux. Conversions from XP to anything else, including Windows 7, are dangerous. Laptop owners are used to the idea that they are stuck with whatever is on their machine when they buy it.
Changing desktop computers to a different operating system does not make sense when thare are large numbers of laptop users locked into the existing operating system. You really need to wait for the opportunity to replace everything at the same time. I would switch from XP to 7 if I were in that situation because the Windows 7 upgrade would be less disruption than running two operating systems for few years.
Windows XP wastes more of my time than Windows 2000. The versions of Linux available prior to Windows XP wasted more of my time than Windows 2000, making XP the better choice. Linux has improved and is now about the same as Windows 2000, which is a lot better than XP. I would save several hours of frustration each month converting to Linux.