Store Index - Operating Systems:
Platform: Windows XP
Product Description: Windows XP is the operating system release that unifies the Microsoft range, with all the desktop versions now built on the NT/2000 code base rather than the shakier foundation of Windows 95, 98, and Me. That makes XP a great upgrade for users of the now-obsolete 9x and Me line, but for those already on Windows 2000 Professional it is a closer call. Despite the similar name, there is no special synergy between Windows XP and Office XP, which works fine on Windows 2000.
Windows XP Professional 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 earlier 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, Windows 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 it does prevent most types of unauthorized connection...
- Pentium 233 MHz or faster processor
- For PCs without Microsoft Windows or PCs with Windows 95 or earlier
- 128 MB RAM
- 1.5 GB hard disk space
- CD-ROM or DVD drive
- Sound card Keyboard and mouse
- DVD video playback requires DVD drive and DVD decoder card or DVD decoder software and 8 MB video RAM
- Video capture feature requires appropriate digital or analog video capture device and 400 MHz or faster processor for digital video camera capture
- 33.6K modem and Internet access required for online and conferencing features
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