- Release Date: 25 October, 2001
- Availability: Usually ships within 24 hours
- Third Party Used Price: $99.99
XP certainly looks different, with rounded window corners, larger and more detailed icons, and a clean-look desktop that on first installation shows only the taskbar and recycle bin. XP is also more customizable than previous versions of Windows, and includes visual themes that let you change the whole appearance of Windows in an instant. That is the window-dressing, but underneath are some significant improvements. One of the most interesting is Remote Desktop. A standard XP feature, this uses technology from Microsoft Terminal Server to enable users to access their computer over any connection; for example, by dialing into the office from home. This is not just file access--this technology lets you run applications remotely as if you were sitting at your desk at work. This is mature technology, stable and carefully thought-out. So, for example, you can print from a remote word processor to a local printer. A variation on the theme is Remote Assistance, where the user can allow a remote helper to view their desktop, or optionally gain control of the keyboard and mouse, in order to troubleshoot a problem. The feature can also be disabled to ease security concerns.
Laptop users benefit from enhanced power management, with options to extend battery life by reducing CPU speed and display brightness. IrDA support has been fixed so that, unlike Windows 2000, XP can easily use modems in mobile telephones via infrared. A new screen font, ClearType, improves legibility for laptop or other flat screens, and there is built-in support for wireless networking using the popular 802.11 standard. A great feature of XP, also found in Windows 2000, is the ability to synchronize network files with offline copies. Previously these files could not be stored securely, but now they can be encrypted.
For Web browsing, XP comes with Internet Explorer 6.0. The enhancements in IE 6.0 are mainly of interest to Web developers, and in any case Microsoft makes IE freely available to all Windows users. Although Java is not installed by default, it is not difficult to download a Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Windows Messenger, originally a chat client, has evolved into a collaboration tool that allows for video conferencing and application sharing.
The most significant new feature for Internet users is the built-in firewall. A firewall protects against one of the most disturbing security risks, in which other users unknown to you might connect to your computer while it is online, reading private files or causing other damage. XP's built-in firewall is a simple affair, but does prevent most types of unauthorized connection.
Windows XP has strong multimedia features. The new Media Player lets you copy music from CD to hard disk, create your own playlist, and write your own music CDs if you have a CD writer. Although there is loss of quality as a result of compression, the process is easy and convenient. Media Player 8.0 can play back DVD video, but only if a hardware or software DVD decoder is already installed. You can also play MP3 audio files and MPEG videos, but sadly not the popular RealMedia formats. In the end, Media Player does nothing that you cannot also do with free alternatives, but it is slick and nicely integrated.
The XP user interface is not a radical departure from earlier versions of Windows, but there are a number of small changes that together add up to a significant improvement. The Start menu now automatically features the most frequently used programs at the top of the list, and you can add and remove shortcuts by right-clicking the icon and selecting Pin or Unpin from the pop-up menu. Windows online help is integrated into a Help and Support Center that works like an internal Web site, with searchable help, tutorials, and walk-throughs.
Windows XP Professional includes all the features of Windows XP Home, and adds support for dual processors, encryptable file system, offline folders, the Remote Desktop as described above, and extra administration features that come into play when connected to a Windows server domain. XP is demanding on hardware, and it would be a mistake to install it on less than Microsoft's recommended minimum requirements. There is also activation to consider, a mildly annoying anti-piracy measure that requires you to obtain a code from Microsoft for full installation, and in the future if you reinstall or make major system changes.
Overall, it's a big step forward for those coming from Windows 9x or Me, and attractive rather than compelling as an upgrade from 2000. --Tim Anderson
Customer Rating: 3.47 of 5 (914 total reviews)
- The Latest, But DEFINATELY The Greatest
Windows XP does the deed that Microsoft has been aiming to achieve since the milestone release of Windows 95. I have been using Windows XP since pre-beta 2 when the OS was still under the codename Whistler. I have seen the ups and downs, the improvements, the additions and subtractions and have been very please with what as been done with Windows XP.
It makes installing hardware a breeze with enhanced plus and play technology. Simply plug in your camera, usb device, hard drive, external storage, etc and Windows XP will automatically install and set it up for use. Integrated CD Burning will save you time and money from having to purchase 3rd party applications. Remote Desktop is a wonderful feature for administering your Windows XP computer away from the home or office on a separate computer. All you need to do is install the Remote Desktop client on any computer that does not run Windows XP and you are set.
You can also use Remote Assistance to send an invite to a friend, co-worker, relative, anyone you know using Windows XP to control your computer and fix any issue you may be having with it.
Windows Media Player 8 is wonderful, allowing you to encode high quality songs from CD's and also including options to display the Album Cover artwork for identifying your music on the folder.
My favorite thing is the ability to change the appearance with the new XML skinning engine to completely have a custom and unique style from anyone in the world.
There are many wonderful feature to list, and despite the talk that it is just a small step from Windows 2000 is ludicrous. Windows 2000 is similar and on the same codebase, but does outperform and include more useful tools. I would recommend purchasing the full version and not the upgrade, that way if you ever need to install a clean version of Windows XP you will not have to install an OS to upgrade from.
- A great facelift for an incredibly stable platform (Win2000)
I have been fortunate enough to be a beta tester for this product, though I did not initially install the beta on my drive, after hearing about the "activation" clause. I won't get into that "feature" until the end, since it's the most talked about...
Useful Features Exclusive to XP Professional:
- Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) - You network can set up it's systems with a single Internet connection. This is a cost saver.
- Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) - System administrators can monitor and control the system using scripting and/or third-party applications.
- Dual-CPU Utilization - If you have a dual-CPU system (which are becoming more common), XP Professional, like NT and 2000, are able to use it. This allows for more efficient multi-tasking, video rendering, audio encoding, and graphics editing.
- Domain Login - At login you are able to login to your networks domain, as it was with NT and 2000.
- Enhanced Security settings
I have been a user of DOS, Windows 3.11, Windows 95, 98, and ME. My favorite OS, however, has been Windows 2000 Professional. After severe crashes, and abysmal memory management in 98 and Me, Win2000 provided a staple platform, which ran my most used applications (Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Office 2000, Flash 5) without a problem. It could be said that XP is the culmination of the best of WinME and Win2000.
Now, I had never been a fan of the "appearance" of Windows, (Mac OS 9 - and 10- had the trophy for the most attractive GUI) but the look had grown a bit stale...until Windows XP.
On installation, you notice that the beginning has a look of WinME - with it's installation wizard - but the second part of the installation looks like Windows 2000 - with it's DOS look. That is the end of the physical similarities.
During the installation, it picked up all of my components with no problem, and had all of the drivers needed, including my Network card, and monitor. At first boot-up (which is about half the Windows 2000 wait on my Athlon 1.2Ghz), you notice an attractive boot splash screen, which then brings you to the first major feature:
After setting up and selecting your profile, you come to the main screen. Built with a cleaner, highly customizable GUI, Windows XP can be either exciting for someone who loves to tweak, or a bit intimidating to those who don't (Be aware of that before going in).
The start menu is different (though you can revert to the "Classic" style), in layout and function. It provides full access to the main parts you need. The requisite "Start" menu has been revised to include My Computer, Network Neighborhoods, and/or whatever else you may want. It's quite customizable.
XP Useful features:
Not built on the older DOS engine
- Compatibility mode - allows setting programs, which may no be native to XP, to run in 95/98/ME/NT/2000 "mode". Great feature, and it has worked on all programs I have tried.
- Enhanced battery life for laptops by:
a) Lid Power. Display is shut down when "lid" (screen) is closed.
b) LCD Dimming. When using battery power, the display is dimmed, and brightness is restored when plugged into AC.
- Device driver rollback - a wonderful feature which allows you to "roll-back" to the previous driver, in case you have a conflict with your newly installed one. Allows beta-testing drivers.
- Search Companion - much more advanced (and needed) search feature.
- ClearType - much more precise and clean look for LCD and laptop displays. Also looks great on typical monitors.
System Restore - carried over from WinME, this feature allows "points" to be created, in order to restore system setting in case you run into problems. Timesaving.
- Completely re-designed GUI
- Customized Desktops - allows multiple "profiles" to be set up (husband, wife, and kids for example) which retain settings for icon placement, wallpaper, icons shown, and more. This is great if one of you likes a cluttered (i.e. save everything to desktop J) desktop, and another likes a clean one. In my case, my wife doesn't want to see all of my icons for my programs, just the one little game she plays all the time. This feature gives XP some personality that has been missing.
XP Fairly Useful Features:
- CD Burning - Nice inclusion of basic CD burning capabilities, but it must be said, that "basic" means "basic." Not hybrid Mac/PC burns, no on-the-fly burning, VCD, etc. Get Nero 220.127.116.11 if you want great burning software.
- Windows Messenger - MS answer to AOL Instant Messenger, allows quick connection to friends, and allows file trading. But it's also annoying. It takes a toll on the system resources, so you may find yourself disabling it (like I did ;-).
- Self-contained Firewall - though not as robust as third-party ones (ZoneAlarm, Norton, etc.), it is adequate for most users.
XP Misleading/Irritating Features:
- DVD playback - this would be a nice feature...it existed. As it is, however, you need a third-party CODEC, in order to view DVDs.
Microsoft Media Player - MP3 ripping/playing is relegated to 96-bitrate, due to "protecting copyrights" of CDs. You must get the Plus! Pack in order to do higher bitrate ripping. It's ironic that the WMA (Microsoft's own format) can be ripped to and played at higher bitrates.
Anyone familiar with Windows 2000/NT, will be impressed with XP's stability. I have had to reboot only a couple of times, through the Beta and final versions, and then only due to my motherboard settings.
Users of Win95/98/ME will be very happy to know that they will not have the conflicts/crashes which plagues those OSs.
From here you are on your own, but believe me, it is quite a bit of fun to get to know this OS. NOTE: Microsoft has release it's first bug fix/update...SP1. Contains numerous fixes, including the SB Live! 5.1...
- Windows XP Professional
I have been a freelance translator for the past 15 years; and as such, was forced to learn how to operate a computer at a rather advanced age. That was during 1990. I started with a plain little computer, no WYSIWYG. . .and I can't even remember what the operating system was, but it was, most assuredly built by Bill Gates and was not yet "Windows".
I have FINALLY GRADUATED to this WONDERFUL version of Windows. . Windows XP Professional, the zenith of operating systems. I assure anyone who is reading this, that it is a most worthwhile investment. No more crashes. The computer even TELLS YOU when it has "indigestion". I love it. I cannot believe how good it is. I recommend it most heartily to everyone. You will certainly not be sorry once you load it on to your computer.