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With Windows XP, Microsoft has given the UI a complete overhaul. And holy crow does it ever look pretentious.
Windows XP is now the only version of Windows Microsoft is selling, and that marks the end of DOS-based Windows. Microsoft finally stepped everyone up to NT, wow it took them almost ten years!

Because of the color gradients used in XP, some of these screenshots might look a little weird depending on your video settings.
Also note that some of these shots are newer than the others, for things that I felt needed to be added on.

Windows XP Login
Signing in is now done through this fancy looking screen, with huge buttons as well as the user's names.

Windows XP Activation
The first new thing Microsoft introduces with Windows XP is the "Windows Genuine Advantage" technology, aka Windows Activation.

The goal here is to prevent software piracy. Good luck with that!
You have two options. The first is to use a LAN/dial-up connection and type in a 25-character product key, just like you would do during setup. Or, if you either don't have a connection to the internet or XP doesn't have a driver for your NIC, you must phone into Microsoft and give them a LOOONG (50-character) installation ID, and they will give you an almost-as-long one back for you to type in.

You had better hope that you can access the internet while installing XP, or that you are a fairly good typist. And you had better hope that XP isn't end of life or that the DOJ hasn't put Microsoft out of business, because if you can't activate then you are SOL (unless you crack it, there are a number of those out there). I expect that when XP runs end of support then activation will no longer be possible either.

Windows XP Expire
If you don't activate within the 30 days Microsoft gives you, it will refuse to log on. Clicking yes is all you may do.
If your hardware changes "significantly", Windows will re-prompt you to activate.

At best this whole WGA crap has prevented only a few nitwits from installing unlicensed copies. It has also presented an annoyance to customers with legal copies when they go and try to reload their machine after a crash.

It's a wonder that the world actually puts up with this BS.

Windows XP Desktop
After you activate Windows (or crack it/install an MSDN-provided copy that is pre-activated), you can take a look at the desktop.

The first thing you can see is the new, flat theme. For years the push has been to have completely 3D controls. Looks like that is no longer a thing.
You can also see that the only icon present on the desktop is the recycle bin. It is thankfully still possible to add the other icons back if you so desire.

Windows XP Start
The start menu now displays a pretty icon along with the user's name at the top, some of the most recently used applications on the left, as well as some icons for other things on the right.

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