\\[Editor's note: We're not exactly sure where this article came from, but it bears a digitally signed file timestamp from mid-2025 and seems to have been routed though CERN's new tachyon lab.\\]
Welcome to the 30th anniversary of Windows IT Pro! A lot has happened since our 15-year retrospective in 2010, so please join me in a fond reminiscence of the more essential and entertaining moments in IT over the past 15 years.
Microsoft seemed helplessly mired in the doldrums since the beginning of the century, so most will remember when Bill Gates took a page from Steve Jobs' book and returned to Microsoft in 2014. His shakeup of the Microsoft higher-ups included pulling OS kernel expert Mark Russinovich from the Azure group to head the Windows team. The first version of Windows released after Gates' return was Windows Server 2016, and—oddly enough—one of its most popular features was a sort of anti-feature: Server 2016 (quickly nicknamed Win2K-Hex by Windows techies) was the first version of Windows Server that didn’t support WINS and NetBIOS. Furthermore, it included that nifty Disable all Windows broadcast-based protocols Group Policy setting—a real crowd pleaser amongst network techs. (Of course, it wasn't as simple as all that for folks to squash unnecessary network chatter, and even now, nine years later, I've still got clients who are afraid to flip that Group Policy switch, but they're in the minority at this point. Hey, I might even live to see the last IPv4 packet in history.)
Server 2016's desktop sibling, Windows 9 (and wouldn't we all like to forget that heinous Feelin' Fine with Number Nine! ad campaign?), arrived a year later. Like other versions of Windows, Windows 9 sported yet another new GUI in the form of 3D Aero, a version of Aero Glass that presented a truly 3D interface—so long as you wore those polarized lenses and that Borg-like headset. Greentooth fiber-optic gloves let you "multi-touch in multiple dimensions!"—as the Microsoft PR folks liked to say—and soon you could hardly walk into a coffee shop without seeing people at laptops flapping their hands while moving invisible things industriously.
But 3D Aero soon fell out of favor, thanks to another Windows 9 GUI innovation: the merging of the Windows desktop and the web browser. Users soon had to spend a fair amount of fingerpower closing a near-constant barrage of ads and spam from their Internet connection (a phenomenon soon named the spamwave), and so disabled 3D Aero. This spring's introduction of Windows 11, however—“Even better than Seven and close to e-Heaven!”—might bring people back to 3D with its new Aero Swat pop-up blocker. I confess that I'm becoming fond of it, as some of the graphical styles that Windows 11 offers make the spam-swatting sort of fun. (Well, that, and the fact that the new inductive neural interfaces mean that I don't have to wave my hands around in the air to get things done. I do wish that Russinovich hadn't exploited those interfaces while writing new versions of Process Monitor and Process Explorer that display not only what my PC is up to but also what my brain is doing, though.) And speaking of great innovations, what a clever move on Microsoft's part to ship just one SKU of Windows 11, right? "This time, it's all Ultimate!"
Networking has changed tremendously in the past 15 years due to IPv6 and all that it entails. I can honestly say that I would never have believed in 2010 that most Internet connectivity would run nominally at about 10Gbps, but that downloading a service pack would still take an hour, thanks to VoIP and P2P traffic.
And what about security? Well, again, Microsoft shamelessly mimicked some of its competitors, realizing that it's cheaper to run clever advertisements claiming that Windows is more secure than other OSs than it is to actually make that a reality. Oh well. If this stuff ever became easy, I'd have to go get a job, I suppose.
I'm just about of space, but how could I have forgotten one of the biggest pieces of news this year? I'm talking, of course, about Microsoft's announcement that it’s extending Windows XP support for four more years. Thanks for joining me on this trip down memory lane. Here's to 15 more great years!