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Windows XP Delta Edition

Windows XP Delta Edition


·May 21, 2022


So many memories. I am one of those who grew with WinXP (though I usd Win95 at school and for a few years Win98 at home), and as someone said in another comment, what else could a teen geek want besides WinXP with a bandwith connection?

I still feel that seeing a XP Desktop screenshot invites to much more experiences (possibly online) than a Win10/Win11 screenshot. It may be with the fact that I associate it to different internet eras as well. With XP I used to browse websits, fansites, blogs, forums, chats, MSN messenger/Yahoo Messenger/etc, whil now everything seems to be the boring social networks where almost everything is generated/shared.

Internet used to be much fun back then, and it may be the reason why most of the people have good memories about XP. I think the main reason (and I wanted to write an "essay" about this for a while) it's that we were offline by default in our lives, and we used to "go online" for a few hours durnig the day. Then you had your experience in the real world and went online to talk about them. Now it is the other way around - we live online by default, sharing photos and videos from a concert almost in real time, photos from a museum, etc. I think it took away its novelty.


>With XP I used to browse websits, fansites, blogs, forums, chats, MSN messenger/Yahoo Messenger/etc, whil now everything seems to be the boring social networks where almost everything is generated/shared.

That 2005-2009 period was absolutely the swan song of the pre-corporate internet.

Or maybe it's just nostalgia for a simpler time.


> That 2005-2009 period was absolutely the swan song of the pre-corporate internet.

Try pre 2000. Nearly every website was made by an enthusiast of some type. Banner ads just barely existed, and you could reach out and talk to almost anyone who was online. There was also an assumption of politeness and civility.


Oh yes.

Totally unknown people randomly met on IRC in 1994/1995 would send you CDs of their own music, strangers from other countries would invite you to come and stay a couple weeks at their place (that existed again for a while at the beginning of Couchsurfing), etc.

The level of trust and friendliness was incredible: There was maybe 0.1% of the population online and we were in awe of this new world.


> There was also an assumption of politeness and civility.

lol teenaged me on IRC did not get that memo.


Oh there were banner ads, but most were for link exchanges. Remember those? You'd browse someone's website and a banner ad would promote somebody else's. You could get lost for hours!


That assumption of politeness and civility was well on its way out around 1998.

That was the year I recall netnews turning into something resembling an open sewer. By 1999, I had dropped off netnews completely. It had gone from a wonderful community of spaces for almost any topic imaginable, to a constant stream of trolling and porn.


I feel like it was just as corporate, but it was at a different point in the lifecycle. Like, early on, companies had to make the best software they could to get people using computers and communicating over the internet. Now that everyone is hooked, the corporations can switch to extraction mode.


You know, nobody actually needs to participate in this rat race for few seconds of attention (of people you don't care about much), there are no real gains at all in it, not long term, not anything in say quality of life lived or happiness.

I used to be like that, posting 50+ albums of beautiful curated adventure photos per year (basically every weekend trips to alps, backpacking plus ie some evening climbing outdoors on mountain nearby and rest of life like concerts etc). Literally tens of thousands of photos at this point, sometimes stuff NatGeo would be happy to use. Backpacking around the world in wild places relatively few visit, always having full frame camera (+ diving cam + often gopro) with me.

I got told I should start Instagram, get followers, create 'brand' etc but never went that way since that wasn't the reason for doing it.

When first kid came, I toned down everything, stopped some things, less time to curate all those photos in lightroom. With second child, I practically stopped using camera and currently use just good phone (Samsung S22 ultra). My public photo stream basically died since I don't feel the need to share my kids/family photos, they feel much more intimate than just myself doing something cool/extreme. Close family still gets quite a few of those, but that's it.

And you know what? I am fine, I don't miss this at all, and I definitely don't miss similar feeds coming from other folks (especially if they go to some place / experience something and then for a week there are photos dripping 1 by 1 about the same single thing, I began to hate that). Actually I am more than fine, unplugging quite a bit, reversing this process, having more time for much more important matters in life.

Unplugged from quite a few social circles around those activities (but not all). So online life became similar kind of novelty you describe.


"we were offline by had your experience in the real world and went online to talk about them" that is strong and so true.


> we were offline by default in our lives […] Now it is the other way around - we live online by default, sharing photos and videos from a concert almost in real time, photos from a museum, etc. I think it took away its novelty.

We’re probably the same age, and I definitely see people matching that description.

Just to note, there’s also a decent number (most I know?) that went almost the opposite way:

“online” was a novelty but also the only place to share their experiences and participate to their community. With a group of friend we pestered the local com. company for broadband and were among the test group when they decided to start, and spend a crazy amount of time on IRC/ICQ/usenet.

I recently met again with some of the old friends, and our facebook accounts are stubs to keep our name. We’re still on other anonymous SNS but it’s clear we don’t want to share more than needed, and don’t want to spend too much time on it overall.

Basically now that “online” can be used anytime from anywhere, there’s no need actively seek it and novelty is gone so we’re more restricting what we do there.


Similarly I was 'online' much more during my teen years than I am today. I think two key things changed:

1. I started enjoying things outside of the internet more and more, partially due to how the internet has changed, partially due to how I've changed. 2. There's less FOMO due to as you mention, being able to be "online" anywhere. This creates an entirely different atmosphere, I won't miss something because I'm not at my computer. This actually leads me to being online much less, I can be out and about doing things and get ping by my friends on Discord. Very different than when I didn't want to go out because I couldn't talk to my friends.


> Internet used to be much fun back then, and it may be the reason why most of the people have good memories about XP.

To some extend, but I think most people enjoyed XP mostly because it came after 98/ME, and before Vista, which I think are both much worse for different reasons.


The thing is all of these are still here. There are a ton of artisanal websites, blogs and fansites. Lots of communities on IRC, MUDs... Yes it is a small percentage compared to all of current internet users, but still enough for you to spend several lifetimes reading and long hours participating into.


The implication that Microsoft operating systems are anything but pain and misery does not Compute.


I was a former program manager on the Windows XP release so it warms my sprit when I see projects like this. Thanks for keeping the dream alive.


I have warm memories of Windows XP, upgrading to it from ME at about 11/12 years old, where I truly began my independent journey into SWE. I used to switch to the silver theme every now and then to keep things fresh. Windows XP + an internet connection, what more could a 12 year old geek want? Thanks for helping provide that!


Windows XP was actually the trigger for me to move to Linux full time. There was an option to let windows verify you owned the media files on your computer via a third party service when you set up Windows media player. Since this was slightly after all the hoopla about Napster and copyright law, it struck me then that perhaps Microsoft wasn't one of the good guys.

I was slightly older than you though, so perhaps that gave me a different perspective.


Windows Media team made a lot of bone-headed decisions. This was at a time when WinAmp was taking off. WinowsMedia could have leaned into MP3 culture while giving a very basic nod to DRM, instead they created a bunch of confusion. At the time Microsoft was considered the "evil empire" so being considered not one of the good guys would have made the marketing team proud at the time.


> perhaps Microsoft wasn't one of the good guys

That's the thing that tipped you off? After the 90s?...


I never got on with Linux for a workstation, though I've tried. I used to use Windows XP for my workstation, and I had Gentoo running on an older computer for my home server. This was around 2001/2002, as I remember being on IRC during everything that followed 9/11, and it was during that time that I was learning to compile Linux. Strange time, lots of mixed memories, but also, such a sense of wonder — the internet, Linux, programming, Windows XP.


I am with you on that. Almost same timeline. Plus the amazing art work, icon packs, editing shell32.dll (or whatever it was called, sorry I dont remember accurately) to make it look like Aurora (or longhorn). Those were the days for a geek.


I held out on Windows 98SE for awhile because of games, and then went to Windows 2000 for the classic UI when I learned you could often get XP drivers to load in 2000 with a bit of INI fiddling.

It wasn’t until nearly 2003 that I finally moved over to XP.


I built and installed and repaired a lot of XP machines (tens of thousands, probably), but ran win2k myself until Windows XP x64 Edition came out, and then promptly installed that. Other than in a VM, i've never actually ran windows XP 32 bit myself. win3.11 "wfw" -> 98SE -> 2k -> xp x64 -> 7 'ultimate' -> 10 pro for workstations. In the gaps i used MacOS (7,8,9) and then redhat, then gentoo.

I also ran NT4 as a fileserver because it had the best SCSI controller support. had almost a year of uptime on that before a blackout took it offline.


Similar story, except instead of 98 for me I held on to Win2k (and the laptop running it, the first laptop I ever bought with my own money) as long as I possibly could. Absolutely loved that release.


And I thought Program Manager was a Windows 3.1 thing... Badum-tss!


Congrats on your fatherhood - only a dad could make a joke that bad.


How did you guys feel about all the Linux patent sabre rattling that Microsoft was doing at the time or shortly thereafter?


I think when it comes to big companies of any sort, not just big tech, a lot of unloved initiatives are also not well-liked from within, but even fairly critical people tolerate it as long as they’re not in close proximity to it. I can only imagine others here can relate to the pressures of trying to balance pressure to prioritize short to mid-term business success vs investing in long-term gains and user trust. Maybe Google is a bit of a weirder case, but I was there when Dragonfly was uncovered and though some people quit, most people just complained. (To be sure, I definitely understand that some company culture would be more aggressive against internal dialogue like this. I’m somewhat neutral on it as it definitely had its ups and downs.)


I used to work in a field that clashed with my personal ethics. Took me a decade to figure out it. More than enough time to be culpable. Life is interesting.


Keep in mind that at the time Microsoft was being sued for being anti-competitive behaviour by Netscape and there were a lot of attention on the company for being a bad actor. Most of Microsofts's patents were defensive (they rarely used them offensively to my knowledge). There was a group of execs that were nervous about Linux but the lack of UI/UX/Usability strength put most of the focus on server capabilities. To this day many people want Linux to be a broader desktop OS but the only strong and focused effort on this are ironically ChromeOS and Android.


Interesting, from the outside it definitely appeared like there was a lot of effort into destabilizing footholds Linux and FOSS were making. There was the whole 'true cost of ownership' advertisement FUD, attempts to paint the desktop experience as poor (as you just did) when it was and continues to be a superior experience ever since KDE 3.5 (imo, of course), the sabre rattling about patents at the start of android, numerous institutions switching to and then back from FOSS equivalents of office repeating Microsoft PR verbatim as if it was facts... From the outside, it looked like a big deal.

Very interesting to hear it from the other side though, thanks.


Windows XP was my first operating system when my family got their first computer. At the time our school computers were running Windows 98. I felt so special having the new "XP" system at home haha. The login sound still brings back memories. Thank you for your contributions!


Reminds me of the hacked-up Windows XP Service Pack 3 images you'd find on warez sites. I fondly remember XP "Black Edition" with custom themes.

They also had it configured to receive the Windows XP POSReady security updates, which made the system serviceable long after the general EOL date.


> POSReady

There's a name I haven't heard for a long time. I used to work in POS and remember getting big license packs of POSReady in the MS Gold Partner Program loot packs.


Super nostalgic! I remember them having a lite edition which ran noticeably faster on my netbook


nLite was popular in the carputer scene. I ran a stripped down XP version on a low power industrial PC (Atom CPU, 1GB RAM, laptop disk) hooked up to a Lilliput touchscreen up front.

Good times!


I credit nLite with improving my understanding of Windows. I was educational to see all the components listed with tooltips about their function and dependencies. It was like building your own custom copy of Windows. At one point I think I had a copy of XP running using 50MB of RAM at the desktop.


Also in the "people who want a fast PC and don't want all the extra shite MS keep bundling".

Miss those days. Seems like even Linux installs are monsters nowadays.


definitely installed xp netbook edition, and it was faster than full boat xp but still a chonker compared to whatever the popular linux distro for netbooks was back then


A trip down memory lane. I loved my pimped out XP black edition with all the addons and features.


Pretty sure they still do those for Windows 11 and so on


You can get lots of other software .ISOs (Mostly operating systems) here:


Even more on WinWorldPC:

I like WinWorld since each file usually comes with a bit of history about the release, as well as nearby serials.


I love the screenshots of windows ME!


aw, they don't have windows home server!


For the same reason they don't (and won't) have XP.


Thank you for sharing this link. The Internet Archive is truly a marvel of unequaled value. Didn't know it had such a trove of warez without the risk of pwnage that warez and torrent sites came with.


How do you know these are free of any malware?


For Windows ones the SHA sums are available online to compare to.




For those wondering about other fan-made XP editions, there is MicroXP:

As for piracy, it seems Microsoft just don't seem to care. MicroXP has been on since 2019!


Microsoft themselves offer a freely downloadable software compatibility tool which internally contains a full Windows XP virtual machine. There's instructions online for how to import the imagine into Virtual Box.

I wonder if it has to do with the common practice of using a stripped down windows install as a live bootable environment to run recovery tools?


WinPE (recovery tools) is very different from the desktop SKU


The kernel and a lot of the userspace DLLs (of which the former has far fewer) are exactly the same, AFAIK.


Even if you have a licensed copy of WinXP, MicroXP is useful because it is a stripped down version that has been tested. That represents quite a lot of work.


man, eXPerience brings back some memories. i used tinyxp for most of the late 00s, in high school.


You can get a ton of old, abandoned, or unsupported, software from I have no idea if the original authors are aware of it but if they are they don't seem to care that much.


Everything on is user uploaded. So I think authors don’t event know. I just recently uploaded an old Pocket PC / Windows Mobile game that I found on an old disk drive. It took me less than five minutes to register and upload it and it was immediately available.


It's not that, has a DMCA exemption for being a library. It makes it legal for them to host the data, but that doesn't mean it's legal for you to download it. Weird I know... I mean why else would they store it if it's illegal to access? I've never gotten a straight answer to that.


> I mean why else would they store it if it's illegal to access?

It's not permanently illegal to access. In the US, there's a constitutional requirement that copyright and patents be time-limited, so eventually all that stuff will be public domain. And the copyright period is current so absurdly long that by the time XP is public domain, it will be hard to find outside of dedicated archives.


Let me rephrase... why make it available for download to the public if it's illegal to do so in 99% of cases?


They have fairly strong protections, but it's not a blank check. Nintendo for example is aggressive about getting stuff taken down from there.


An ordinary library can not scan a copy of a book and allow unlimited downloads of that scan from the web. The DMCA exemption doesn't allow that. Actually, got in trouble pretty recently because they were accused of doing almost just that. Their response was not that they had the right to do it but rather that they had never been doing it to begin with - that each copy given out was merely "lended" and backed for the duration of the lend by an actual physical copy in a partnering library.

Similarly, you will find a bunch of copyright software on there, including for recent DRM-free and cracked video games. Unfortunately, my impression is that the archive managers simply do not care about copyright. Anyone who wants to get something they own taken off the site has to put in quite a bit of work, similar to the old wild-west days of YouTube.


As far as not caring, Jason Scott has said himself that they take a "ask forgiveness instead" approach because getting permission is too difficult and time-consuming. In 2016 they were adding 15TB per day with a total storage volume of 30PB, and by 2020 that total was 70PB.




I also remember ZverCD being popular in Russia. It had Vista icons and a more glossy theme.


I wonder if the custom Windows image scene will get a revival when they start to force online accounts. I'm not looking for a way to avoid paying for Windows, but I'll do what it takes to keep a local account.


That would be nice. Windows AME and NinjutsuOS are basically your two options for Windows 10, aside from LTSC.


Thanks for this imput!


There will always be offline accounts because there will always be offline computers, for a variety of reasons.


For enterprise, sure. But they've already shown a willingness to gimp their operating systems for common consumer use. For instance, you can't use virtualization features on Windows 10 Home edition. I wouldn't be surprised if you need a special license key to use Windows offline (past activation, at least) in the future.


> you can't use virtualization features on Windows 10 Home edition

Get the Pro edition then?

What exactly is "common consumer use" of virtualization features?


The field is active even today, you may want to check out TeamOS. (I’m not sure if I can leave a link to it here, so just search for it.)


i think they will never force online accounts. A lot of small business prefer/need offline accounts, and there needs to be a solution for them, besides Windows Enterprise Edition.


For maximum nostalgia they should find a way to remove the volume-license key blocklist (added in SP1) so I can install Delta Edition with the "FuCK GateWay" key that is still seared into my memory 20 years later.


pretty sure that's done? I used to distribute my own little hacked together bit of kit called TurboXP that used volume key


Windows XP, Vista and 7 were the most beautiful operating systems ever.

Since 7 we've had what could only be described as horrendously unusable and ugly.


To me XP always looked ridiculous. Like an April’s fool joke, „Windows Toys“r“us Edition“. I still can’t believe that it was used to run nuclear power plants (it probably still does).


The first thing I always did with any XP install was to switch to the W2k look. It saved screen space, too.


Agreed, 7 was the last Windows I felt had more to love than to complain about. When 10 entered a silly update failed - keep retrying failing updates just to fail again loop I just said nah not worth it and switched permanently to linux mint. It was the last straw so to speak. I was supposed to install an update manager and use it to install updates instead? Bleh.

Some audio tweaks here, some kernel tweaks there, we've been through a lot together already this OS and I :D


I think mobile OS designed also peaked with Windows Phone 7. Android and iOS haven't touched the intuitiveness and usability it had. Not to mention the Nokia Lumia hardware was light-years better in build quality then even most Android phones today.

They were too late too market and lost developer mindshare with the Windows Mobile to Phone transition.


I always felt XP looked like a toy, compared to say Windows 2000 or NT 4.


It certainly grated if you were coming to it from macOS.


Mac OS? or OS X? "macOS" didn't exist at the time. ;)


More like we’re all just all getting old


Still using 7 when I'm not using Linux. Every new Windows after that just gave you more bloat you didn't ask for. Unsure whether the OS should run on a desktop or a tablet.


Windows XP is the last Windows where Classic theme (thus GDI before WDDM/Aero) is hardware accelerated.


That's because nobody uses those graphics primitives anymore, and by removing the legacy cruft graphics device drivers can be simplified. Aero/modern UI, by contrast, is much closer to how the modern Windows graphics stack actually works, so it makes sense for Microsoft to move everybody to it and deprecate GDI except for legacy applications.


I only use those primitives these days. My remaining Windows install is 3.1 in dosbox on a raspberry pi 4

Maybe I should see how XP runs on it.


Yup! I ran the Classis theme exclusively. I was never a fan of the default "Fisher Price" theme.


Not bad but I prefer Gold Edition for its additional bling.


To each their own, but to my eyes that is bloody awful.


That's _why_ it was great. So gaudy. Blatantly opulent and tacky. Like rolling up to the Trump tower with spinning rims.


"Pimp my OS". The creativity from those days was definitely interesting to see. A lot of the people who did that weren't even really into computer science/software development; they just liked customising stuff.


Luna was one of my favorite Windows themes of all time. Microsoft was actually way ahead on “flat” design but it was usable, looked modern, and was attractive. They threw it away to mimic the Aqua aesthetic but didn’t really understand why Aqua worked, just kind of how it looked. The final XP themes were so ugly and inconsistent. It was like at least three different widget designs were mashed together (the window frame, the standard widgets, and the scroll bars all appear to be from different worlds).

Office XP and Visual Studio.NET had their own variations of flat widgets that also looked fantastic and seemed true to Luna. For a few seconds, Netscape 6 also had a really nice flat design that was replaced with bulbous, XP-esque chrome.

It would have been great if Microsoft would have stuck with that flat design language. It was original, very true to their brand, and looked “professional”. I would love to hear why it was scrapped in favor of what shipped.



Whoa... this throws me back. It was pretty slick for the time. I loved it.