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This is what Windows ME should have been – Windows XP. This operating system is built around a completely different structure than the 9x or ME series, and finally rids that age old problem of unreliability and poor performance. When Microsoft promised to merge the NT range with the 9x range, they gace us Windows ME, which was little more than a cosmetic makeover for 9x. However, I managed to get my hands on a trial beta II, and here is what I though…
~FEATURES Windows XP looks basically the same as the 9x series, apart from different fonts and colours etc… The start menu however has been redesigned, in a pretty light blue colour – and it is ‘intelligent’. By this I mean that it organises your programs according to how much you use them, with your top 5 first etc…. As well as this, Microsoft have improved the file management/viewing greatly, meaning that now you can preview audio in the same way as you could pictures in ME, and can print directly from explorer.
Windows XP reduces the need for third party software – another example of Microsoft trying to dominate the world markets;. For example there is improved scanner-printer support, better video editing , as well as all the usual, i.e. Media Player, DVD player and the new CD-Burning utility. This of course is good for the consumer – as it means we don’t have to buy as many products, but bad for the competition as they won’t be selling as many of their products.
However, the main feature of XP is the vastly improved reliability. The 9x range was notorious for crashing or being sluggish – but not XP. With a mainly NT structure, the software is as stable as a network, yet as simple to use as any other MS product.
There are far to many features to list here, but some other main ones include: improved family or group usability, with customised start-up screens and faster user switching now included. There is also a new version of Internet Explorer – which to be fair can be downloaded from the internet anyway. Familiar things such as themes are still there, and this is undoubtedly an amazing product.
~INSTALLATION When I installed XP, I was very unsure about it as it was a beta version, and didn’t know if it would harm my computer. However, it didn’t, and after a rather long hour and 10 minutes, my computer had been transformed from Windows 98 to Windows XP. The installation (as always with MS products) was easy, although it found some problems with the software I had installed – for example Outlook – but this was easily reinstalled afterwards, and I continue to use it effectively. As you probably guessed, I installed XP over my previous edition of Windows, rather than reformat my hard drive and start from scratch. This proved to cause no great trouble, and I would thoroughly recommend this method unless you want to completely clear out your hard drive.
~SYSTEM REQUIRMENTS AND PRICE This is where some users may find the difficulty in XP, as it requires at least 128MB RAM, and a pretty beefy processor. Anything less than this will not only make your system become unstable, but will mean your programs run slowly, and the system just isn’t worth it.
Microsoft are synonymous with high prices, and although I couldn’t find out the price of the final product (due to be released in October 2001), I would expect it to be about £70-£100 for the home edition – and about double for the business edition.
~OVERALL As this was only the Beta edition, I could not really get into the teeth of XP and use all of it’s features. However, when the final version is released in the autumn, I think it will be the best piece of software from Microsoft since Windows 95. If you are considering purchasing Windows ME in the near future – DO NOT – wait for XP. 8/10.
Useful op. I heard somewhere that WinXP also includes a ZIP file compatibility - thus doing away with yet another piece of 3rd party software. You do wonder if the DOJ action actually achieved anything. BTW where can you get the beta version? Tom
cjkace 17.05.2001 22:19
You don't make any refernce to the new Microsoft Product Activation procedure. How easy was it? Cheers - Craig