Microsoft puts out a very good effort within Windows XP Pro to make multimedia feel right at home. I’m sure it will be even more so in the Home version. Although many find MSN Messenger useless versus more well known instant message clients such as AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ, it has its own benefits. Remote desktop and application sharing allow two users to connect to each other and actually share programs they are running. By sharing the desktop, the other person can see whatever the shared person is running. If he/she chooses to allow control to be taken, the person viewing the other screen and actually control it from their very own computer. By making this sort of “legalized trojan” easy to use, people can troubleshoot each others computers, do homework together, or just mess around and have some fun.
Windows Media Player is also a great addition to the “web surfing, user friendly” experience Microsoft is trying to set out.
The default skin is sleek enough. When full screened, VERY nifty and useful information/play-stop-skip toolbars slide in and out whenever the mouse is moved allowing you to skip to a part of a clip while staying in full screen. Microsoft’s move towards a greater multimedia experience is proven solely within WMP. By including CD ripping and burning software within the proggie gives you one click access to creating your own music CDs. Another tab, “Media Guide” gives news on the latest movies, music, lifestyles, etc. Also, when you insert a blank CD into the CD-RW, Windows will ask you if you want it to a) automatically open it as a writeable folder or b) do nothing. The ease and simplicity with creating CDs in WinXP is more than well thought of and integrated seamlessly. Pessimistic thinkers may say it is just another form of Microsoft’s monopoly. However options can be turned off forever the very first time they show up, allowing both computer literate and illiterate users to enjoy Windows. Microsoft also claims that multimedia performance is better in XP. From the work they have put into this OS, that’s not hard to believe at all.
Gaming within Windows XP is stepped up as well. The OS comes preloaded with DX8. Most Win2k drivers for video/sound cards will work, using a Win2k Compatibility mode under WinXP if necessary. However most manufacturers are, or already have created WinXP specific drivers. Such as nVidia, with the new Detonator XP (4) drivers for the GeForce family.
Performance: Just a quick view of the performance differences between Win2k and WinXP.
Quite an improvement I’d say. More so than we would have considered possible.
Microsoft Windows XP is packed with new features that cannot all be possibly explained within a single review. For example:
Windows now has a tint filling in selection boxes. It also modifies the background of My Computer to accommodate a multimedia specific directory, i.e., as shown above. All these little things add up making Windows XP even more presentable.
Nevertheless, no matter how much you want it, in the real world there is no such thing as a perfect piece of software. Windows XP certainly has its downfalls. The most obvious and most talked about is its Windows Product Activation (WPA). According to The Register
"You will be able to change up to six pieces of hardware so long as you have a network card installed, and this will reset after 120 days. It's not clear how many pieces of hardware you can change if you don't have a NIC, but presumably it'll be tighter, and the idea is to put the squeeze on grubby playground software swappers. The 120 day reset may be a loophole, but that depends on how Microsoft plays things at the server end.
Records of hardware changes on your local PC will expire after this period, but that doesn't automatically mean Microsoft is going to throw away its own records of the product key you used to activate it. So suggestions elsewhere that you could just install again on another PC after 120 days seem unconvincing to us. You could conceivably do some kind of back-up and restore number, this possibly depending on how similar the two PCs were, and this may also ease the situation of people using Ghost and similar. But we really need more information on precisely how this will be implemented before we can make a judgement.
OEM copies shipped with new PCs will be far more lax. Microsoft says this accounts for around 90 per cent of Windows license sales, and that most of these will have WPA linked solely to the bios of the PC. So you can change anything you like without having to reactivate (or indeed activate, if the machine was one of the preactivated ones). This includes being able to change the motherboard so long as the board is from the same manufacturer, and presumably explains why the leaked Dell version installs without activation on Dell machines."
That's the low down on WPA at the moment. Also, as always, newer software usually demands better hardware standards to run smoothly. Microsoft specifies:
PC with 300-MHz or higher processor clock speed recommended; 233 MHz minimum required (single or dual processor system) Intel Pentium/Celeron family, or AMD K6/Athlon/Duron family, or compatible processor recommended 128 MB of RAM or higher recommended (64MB minimum supported; may limit performance and some features) 1.5 GB of available hard disk space* Super VGA (800 X 600) or higher resolution video adapter and monitor CD-ROM or DVD drive Keyboard Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device
Of course OCA specifies 512mb cas2, AMD 1.4 or P4 1.8, GeForce 3, two 40GB 65gxp IBM drivers RAID, etc. =)
All in all, Microsoft should be given a job well done. Windows XP is the only operating system to combine user friendliness, speed, AND stability to this date. The real question boils down to: Is it worth the money? With the recent tragic events and a crashing stock market, the US economy isn’t at its golden best. Many businesses are strapped for money, and upgrading operating systems for a workforce of computers is very expensive. However, if no one spends money on any new technology within the computer industry, even more business will go bankrupt. Money needs to be spent in order for it to be earned. Regardless of anyone’s financial restraints, every dollar paid for Windows XP Professional is most certainly well worth it.
We'd like to thank you for joining us here at the OCA today, and hope this informative review has, or will help you in your decision making process when considering upgrading from your current operating system. As usual if you have any flames, props or general feedback, please direct it HERE.
DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.
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