In my mind, at least, XP's release brings about something I've been desperate for. Let's forget the activation scheme for now, because that's been done to death. Instead, consider how birth of XP signals the death of 9x. Live's "Lightning Crashes" is far too fitting here:
the angel closes her eyesConfusion jokes aside, the NT core is finally making its way to home users, leaving the 9x core to fade into obscurity. Current 9x users may not feel compelled to upgrade, and that's fine; what's important here is that spread of 9x has now been severely curtailed at the source.
the confusion that was hers
belongs now, to the baby down the hall
While parts of the world may indeed not be ready to take on XP, I think we're all ready to put 9x to pasture.