Now that Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft, people are asking that it become open source. How the code that created one of the largest pieces of software could be used has many excited for the possibilities. There are plenty of benefits and there are plenty of pitfalls in releasing the code to one of the world’s most popular operating services.
One way it would benefit users is that programmers could go through the code and fix security holes that may have gone unnoticed by Microsoft. Those fixes could result in user-generated support, which could be offered for free online. This could bring future support into the hands of the users and let them decide when to no longer develop updates when the operating system is finally no longer used. User-generated support developed for other software has proven to be very effective for products that are not supported by their developers.
Of course, there could be a dark side to users creating their own updates and patches. There would be the potential for programmers to create a “black market” for the updates and force people to pay large sums of money for them. Users desperate for updates could be at the mercy of programmers and those who choose to exploit the surge of demand. There is also the possibility that the updates and add-ons could be harmful to the user’s computers by programmers inserting viruses and malware inside the install packages.
User modifications could also be a benefit of having an open source Windows XP. Having access to the code could allow programmers to create additional add-ons and extensions to the operating system and allow users to change it to their liking. Some people like to change the way their computer looks or operates and the ability to do so would make the operating system even more appealing than the current locked-down versions.
The operating system could also become a greater stripped-down version and allow for less powerful computers to delete or turn off certain processes. That would allow computers to only use the processes that are needed and allow for optimal usage of the computer processor and RAM. Users who only need their computer to perform basic operations would see the most benefit from a stripped-down operating system and have the best optimized individual experience.
With a lot of promise comes a lot of problems. There would be a surge of people who could see open source as a way into learning how to attack past, current, and future versions of Windows. The retired operating system still has a base that is used in the current versions of Windows. Releasing the source code of the OS could lead to people seeing how Microsoft builds its code and could lead to programmers creating code to crack future Microsoft programs and operating systems.
Having an open source Windows XP would become more of a novelty than an actual need. The dated operating system has become greatly hindered now that new software is not able to be installed on older versions of Windows. Most experts would agree that updating to a newer version of Windows would benefit most as the latest software and security can be found on newer operating systems. Upgrading to a newer version of Windows allows the user to utilize the best software available instead of relying on older programs that others may no longer use.
Opinion by Raul Hernandez