With the successor to Windows ME and Windows 2000 just having been released to manufactures, I thought that this week I would review the newest Operating System on the market from Microsoft; Windows XP. For most people in the industry this new product is the most exciting development in its area since Windows 95 was released however, most home users may also have something to gain from this new release.

You may or may not remember the very first article I published for the Herald when I discussed the distinct differences between Windows ME (Millennium Edition) and Windows 2000. To summarise the article, Windows ME was targeted at the home user; it was designed to be fast and with large amounts of support for games but wasn’t as hot on issues such as security and stability that Windows 2000 (the business product) excelled at. This new product, Windows XP makes a valiant attempt at bridging the gap between these two distinctly different versions – It has the speed of Windows ME and the stability of Windows 2000 in one product. I have seen this package running on a number of machines and phrases such as the infamous ‘You have performed an Illegal Operation’ are few and far between due to the increased stability of the system – In fact when the computer does come down with such an error Windows XP actually apologises for the inconvenience and ensures that instead of the whole system going down that just the offending program is terminated.

For most home users however, the cool new interface will probably be the first thing to grab their attention rather than the finer workings of the Operation System. Windows XP is a lot more slick and colourful than any of the previous incarnations which all had a reputation of being rather dull; you could change your desktop background and screensaver but that’s about as far as it went. For XP all the icons have been completely redesigned, new colour schemes have been put into place along with a really neat looking start menu. The biggest change though is that all the small things that you may have thought would have been a good idea when using Windows 98 or ME have all been added to this release.
Another important point to note is that even through all these changes, Windows XP is still compatible with all your old programs and even programs written for an older version of Windows adopts all the new visual styles of this later version. To see this new design for yourself, point your browser at https://www.winsupersite.com.

Windows XP has been designed to be a much more multimedia oriented Operating System; the newest features include an updated version of Windows Media player with support for ripping tracks straight off any music CD onto your hard-disk as well as the ability to play DVD’s. There is also support for writing to CD discs without any additional software (using a compatible recorder) as well as simplified and improved scanner and camera support.

One of the most negative points of Windows XP has to be the anti-piracy software built into the Operating System. While I do understand that piracy is an issue that has to be taken very seriously and should not be condoned in any form, I feel that this new system verges very closely upon being intrusive.
Once you have the product out of the box and installed it onto your computer, Windows has to be ‘activated’ which involved either ringing up Microsoft or registering the product over the Internet. If the product isn’t registered within 30 days then it will disable itself and therefore rendering the machine useless.

During registration, the details of the users’ machine (sound card, processor etc.) are taken into account and a unique product ID created meaning that the product would fail to run if installed on a machine with a different specification. This does mean however that if you were to change an item of hardware such as your PCs motherboard then you would have to phone Microsoft up and get a new Product ID for the new computer specification. I can see that this system will help to reduce piracy but could also serve to annoy people who have legally purchased the product for £80; imagine if you had to call up Ford when you’d spent £10,000 on a new car so that it could be activated thereby ensuring that it wasn’t a stolen model.

That is actually my only real complaint about the product. It is nice to hear of a large company such as Microsoft who has really starting listening to exactly what it is that people require from a product, Windows XP is a great new piece of software and makes other operating systems such as Mac OS and Linux seem far to complex in comparison. Although not quite released at the time of publication, the product should be out on the 25th of October and will most likely cost the same as Windows ME does at present; £135 for the full version or around £40 for those upgrading from an older version of Windows.

Sponsered by Refresh Cartridges