PC World.Top.Windows.XP

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PC World.Top.Windows.XP

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“Should I get it?” That’s what everyone wants to know about Windows XP. We won’t keep you in suspense: For most Windows 98 andWindows Me users whose systems can handle it, the answer is yes.

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  2. C OV E R S T O RY Easier than Windows 2000 and less crash-prone than Win Me, XP is Microsoft’s biggest OS upgrade in years—and its most controversial. We tested it in the field and in the lab to see what works, what doesn’t, and if you should make the leap. BY SCOTT SPANBAUER Windows XP 92 W W W. P C W O R L D.C O M Inside&Out NOVEMBER 2001 I L L U S T R AT I O N S B Y A D A M M c C A U L E Y
  3. C OV E R S T O RY “Should I get it?” REPORT CARD I N S TA L L AT I O N That’s what everyone wants to We also found that some set- cheaper Home Edition upgrade. know about Windows XP. We XP’s Hits and Misses What to Expect: tings—in particular, the video If you still use Windows 95, refresh rates and network con- you’ll have to wipe your hard won’t keep you in suspense: For HITS Stability: Yes, a Windows PC MISSES Windows Product Activation: The Upgrade XPerience nections—needed a little tweak- drive clean and install the full ing after we upgraded our sys- version of either Home Edition most Windows 98 and Windows (other than a Win 2000 box) Not too bad, but this anti- THINKING ABOUT upgrading Pitstop). In addition, you can tems to Windows XP. ($199) or Professional ($299)— can really run crash-free for piracy scheme may still incon- Me users whose systems can to Windows XP? Here’s what visit www.microsoft.com/hcl to assuming your computer can days, even weeks. venience law-abiding users. NOT JUST IF, BUT HOW you’ll need, and what to expect. search Microsoft’s own hard- run Windows XP at all. Expect handle it, the answer is yes. Remote Desktop (requires An uninvited dog: If you Windows XP requires more ware compatibility listings. BEFORE YOU upgrade, you to spend at least an hour up- Windows XP Professional): Take hated Office’s talking paper Due to ship October 25 (bar- memory, processor might, and For a more thorough analy- must also decide which version grading, and be prepared to control of your desktop com- clip, you’ll be apoplectic over hard disk space than any previ- sis, use Microsoft’s Windows of Windows XP you need. At answer the occasional configu- ring unlikely last-minute court puter from the road. the cutesy canine “helper” in ous Windows version (see “Vital XP Upgrade Advisor, which will $99, the Windows XP Home ration question. Remote Assistance: Connect Windows XP’s search utility. orders stemming from the still-pending antitrust Upgrade Statistics,” page 94). be available on the installation Edition upgrade is the least If your current OS qualifies to an XP-equipped computer, System tray balloon text: But even if your PC meets Mi- CD-ROM, as a free 35MB down- expensive option, but don’t let for an upgrade, you can use the wrangling), Windows XP could be the most stable ver- troubleshoot it, and even re- Though it eventually goes crosoft’s recommendations, the the name fool you: Home Edi- upgrade versions to perform boot it if necessary. away, the intermittent prod- sion of Windows yet: It’s at least as stable as Windows company doesn’t recommend tion has 98 percent what XP calls a new installation User Accounts: Keep your ding to create a .Net Passport the XP upgrade for computers of the business- (a clean install), which lets you 2000, Microsoft claims. It’s also the most feature- apps running and your data account is very irritating. more than about two years old, oriented fea- put XP on a bare hard drive, or secure while others log on. No Java Virtual Machine: The laden. Thank its dual bloodlines for that happy com- because it has given up trying tures you can place it on a separate Windows Messenger: This first time you encounter a to make Windows compatible partition so you can boot up bination: From Windows NT and 2000, it inherits a open-standards–based utility Java-based Web site, Micro- with older hardware and either XP or your current Win- could become the instant soft’s Java interpreter is a secure, stable core. From Windows 9x and Me, it BIOSs. Several PC World edi- dows version. A new installa- messaging, voice, videocon- lengthy download away. tors upgraded older systems, tion is likely to generate fewer inherits compatibility with hardware and software, as ferencing, and application- Windows Movie Maker: Still but the odds are against a compatibility problems, but it sharing tool of choice for real- missing commonly used video well as tools for working with digital images, video, trouble-free installation, ac- also requires reinstalling all time online connections. output options. cording to Microsoft. your applications and configu- and audio. And in either of its two flavors—Home ration settings. Installing Office Edition or Professional—it’s a great match for the lat- who installed both prerelease and final shipping versions of Win- CHECK YOUR APPS XP on a dual-boot machine will dows XP, most reported only minor incompatibilities. EVEN IF YOUR system’s hard- also trigger the suite’s product est PCs with their fast processors, capacious hard Most, but not all. As with any upgrade, you might run into a ware passes muster, your appli- activation feature: You’ll have drives, and speedy CD burners. problem with a key application or peripheral that renders the cations and peripherals may found in to get an additional confirma- upgrade undesirable. We won’t know the complete story on com- not. PC World editors who test- Professional. tion number from Microsoft. For users who upgrade, initial reports are mostly patibility until millions have tried XP, and until software and ed XP found problems with var- If your business You may find dual-booting positive. Microsoft has improved the installation expe- hardware vendors have had a few months to roll out updates. ious applications and devices, uses Windows NT or worthwhile, though, not just to Once beyond the upgrade process, people liked the way Win- including Apple’s QuickTime, load from 2000 server domains to reduce compatibility hassles, rience greatly from Windows 2000’s incompatibility dows XP booted up swiftly. Only a few who upgraded old Norton AntiVirus 2001, Win- Microsoft’s Windows XP Web manage network resources and but to gauge performance, and nightmare. Of the PC World editors and associates machines at or below Microsoft’s minimum requirements DVD, Roxio’s Easy CD Creator site (see find.pcworld.com/ user accounts, however, you’ll to run applications or games noticed even a small slowdown in perfor- 4.0, an Epson Perfection 636U 14081), or on a CD-ROM that need Professional. Similarly, that don’t play well with XP. PRODUCT BASICS mance (see “XP Performance: Satisfacto- scanner, and a Rio 500 MP3 will be free in stores. you’ll need Professional if you If it turns out that Windows ry, Not Stellar,” page 100). player. (Fixes and updated dri- Don’t take the Upgrade Advi- have a multiprocessor PC, if XP isn’t for you, you can unin- VITAL UPGRADE STATISTICS And everyone was favorably impressed vers may be available by the sor’s warnings as gospel, how- you want Windows to encrypt stall it by using Control Panel’s Estimated retail price by the new OS’s reliability. If you’re com- time XP launches.) ever. PC World staffers report the files on your hard disk, or if Add or Remove Programs ap- OPERATING SYSTEM Star rating Upgrade eligibility Full version Upgrade ing from the crash-prone 9x/Me camp, One of the quickest ways to that a few applications and you want to use the OS’s new plet (unless you upgraded from this is the single best reason to upgrade. tell whether your computer’s peripherals flagged as incom- Remote Desktop feature. Windows NT or 2000, or chose Windows XP Home Edition 11113 $199 $99 Windows 98, 98 SE, Me Based on the same core operating system setup will work with XP is to patible—including a SanDisk But while Windows 98, Me, to convert the hard disk parti- as Windows 2000 and NT, both versions take PCWorld.com’s Web-based CompactFlash reader and a NT 4.0, and 2000 users can all tion from FAT32 to NTFS). And Windows 98, 98 SE, Me, NT 4.0, 2000, XP Windows XP Professional 11113 $299 $199 of this new OS pay much closer attention Windows XP Readiness test at version of Zone Labs’ Zone- use the $199 XP Professional if XP suits you just fine, you Home Edition to how applications, drivers, and Win- www.pcworld.com/xpready (the Alarm firewall—worked just fine upgrade, only Windows 98 and can regain disk space by delet- Minimum system requirements: 233-MHz CPU, 64MB of RAM (not shared with integrated graphics), 1.5GB of free disk space. dows itself use your system’s memory, test was coproduced with PC after the upgrade. Windows Me users can use the ing the uninstall data. Recommended system requirements: 300-MHz CPU, 128MB of RAM, 2GB of free disk space. normally preventing one bit of code 94 W W W. P C W O R L D.C O M NOVEMBER 2001 NOVEMBER 2001 W W W. P C W O R L D.C O M 95
  4. C OV E R S T O RY from affecting another. Even if an appli- periodically from several icons in the noti- Other changes in appearance—including T H E LO O K O F X P : A R E D ECO R AT E D D E S KTO P cation is incredibly buggy, XP usually can fication area (the system tray). We were drop shadows, richly colored see-through prevent it from crashing Windows or particularly antagonized by one rather icons, and animated cursors and window other applications. intrusive pitch to sign on to Microsoft’s movements—may tax your graphics board One potential upgrade concern may Passport authentication system, which and CPU, but you can turn them off. We turn out to be no big deal. Some PC users you need only to log in to the Windows found them helpful in more easily differenti- accustomed to installing Windows wher- Messenger or MSN services. Be patient: ating one window from another, simplifying ever and whenever they feel like it feared WINDOWS XP It eventually fades away. work with on-screen objects. that Windows XP’s Windows Product Activation antipiracy mechanism would MAINTAINS Windows XP includes new themes— collections of color settings and back- One screen innovation you’ll want to try out if you have a portable computer or a desk- be a burdensome inconvenience. But the TIGHT ground images for windows—that have top LCD monitor: ClearType. This font- copy-control scheme likely won’t affect most license-abiding Windows users CONTROL OVER rounded corners, shading, and textured window frames and buttons. If you don’t smoothing technology is turned off by de- fault; you can find it by clicking Control (see “Product Activation: Not So Bad WHO IS WHO like Windows XP’s blue, blobby windows Panel’s Display icon, selecting the Appearance After All,” page 102). Because Windows XP unites so many AND WHO (you can opt for olive green or silver, too), other themes should be available through tab, and then choosing Effects. ClearType refines your LCD’s jagged pixels and makes features—new and old—into a single DOES WHAT. a forthcoming Plus add-on pack, or from the display easier on the eyes (see the illus- product family, we’ve grouped them into Microsoft’s Web site. You can also revert tration on page 98). Amen to that. five major areas: user interface, digital media tools, user securi- to a classic look similar to that of Windows 98 or 2000. ty features, maintenance and help, and Internet tools. The most significant interface changes are in the Start menu and the taskbar. The revised Start menu displays links to fre- Sound & Vision APPS ABOVE the line in the new Start panel are FOLDERS include links to common tasks and A SIMPLIFIED Control Panel groups icons under quently used applications, essential system folders, and common windows xp inherits many of Windows XP’s New Look tasks. It acts as a good personal portal to Windows XP, but if you Me’s digital media features. If you download static; frequently used apps appear below. locations that relate to their contents. categories, but you can opt for the old-style view. windows xp’s interface is nothing revolutionary. You dislike it, you can revert to the classic Start menu. The taskbar digital audio files, copy CD tracks to a port- get more control over how the OS looks and works, including sports two new space-saving features. Links to documents or able digital audio player, or use a Webcam, a digital camcorder, TAS K BA R C LU T T E R - B U ST E R S whether icons appear on the desktop, how system folders such as windows for the same application (multiple Web browser win- or a digital still camera, Windows XP can help. Sometimes, the Control Panel appear, and what texture and color the win- dows or Word documents, for instance) now pop up vertically though, it forces you to do things Microsoft’s way. LEFT: Links to documents dows and icons display. On the whole, the changes are good; the from a single taskbar button. And system tray icons that you sel- Microsoft tirelessly promotes its latest media player, called or windows from the same ones you don’t like, you can disable in most cases. One annoying dom use disappear after a while (but you can locate them by Windows Media Player for Windows XP—undoubtedly to em- application—Microsoft feature you can’t shut off at will is the balloon text that pops up clicking a button that expands the area). phasize this version’s exclusive availability in the new OS. The Word in this example—pop differences between it and Media Player 7.1 (a free download for up when you click a single DECISION GUIDE users of previous versions of Windows), however, are few. If you taskbar button. have a CD-R/RW drive, the XP player lets you burn CDs at your SHOULD YOU GET XPERIENCED? recorder’s highest rate; Media Player 7.1 limits you to 2X speeds. BELOW RIGHT: Rarely used system tray icons are hidden by default. BOTTOM: You can find them by (See “XP’s Extras” from the October 2001 issue, at find.pcworld. THE VERSION of Windows XP you should upgrade to—if any—depends on your needs and what you have already. clicking the button with the com/14662, for more about XP’s native CD-R/RW support.) small arrow at the far left. The CD-burning speed boost is a real improvement, but two IF YOU HAVE… and you use your PC for… then you should… because… other major differences are noncritical. If your system has a Win- dows Media Player–compatible DVD decoder application in- Windows 9x/Me mission-critical business tasks (e-mail, Microsoft buy a new system with Windows you’ll get a fast, inexpensive, up-to-date PC running the most on a PC that Office) or multitasking—or if stability is a problem XP Professional or Home Edition stable, secure, feature-rich version of Windows yet. stalled, you can watch DVDs in Media Player as well as in the doesn’t meet decoder’s own interface. (Windows XP’s setup program will biggest weakness: Since there’s no option for output to standard Windows XP’s Web browsing, e-mail, entertainment, and other stick with what you have XP’s better stability and security don’t offset the cost of upgrad- detect your existing noncompatible decoder app and attempt to video devices such as VCRs, you can watch videos only on a PC. requirements personal tasks—and stability is not a problem ing, plus you’ll avoid installation hassles. download a free update automatically.) Microsoft did add some higher-resolution video-capture modes Windows 9x/Me mission-critical business tasks (e-mail, Microsoft upgrade to Windows XP your PC is far less likely to crash, and you can protect files and As before, you can convert audio CD tracks to Microsoft’s (previous versions of Movie Maker were limited to 320 by 240 on a PC that Office) or multitasking—or if stability is a problem Professional with a clean install e-mail from others who share the PC. WMA format. But if you want to turn them into MP3s, you’ll resolution). But Movie Maker remains best suited for grabbing meets Windows XP’s Web browsing, e-mail, entertainment, and other upgrade to Windows XP Home your PC is far less likely to crash while running XP; if an applica- have to use a third-party plug-in. And unlike the DVD decoder, brief, low-resolution clips to e-mail to grandma (assuming she’s requirements personal tasks—and stability is not a problem Edition, but dual-boot for now tion or device doesn’t work with XP, you can boot to 9x/Me. this update isn’t free: Microsoft says several offerings will be okay with downloading 1MB or more per minute of video). available online for about $10 each by the time Windows XP Finally, XP gives digital photography aficionados a camera- mission-critical business tasks (e-mail, Microsoft stick with what you have for you already have XP’s key productivity features—stability and Windows 2000 on Office, other productivity software) another six months security. Let other business users be the guinea pigs. ships. It’s no bargain, considering you can do the job for free friendly download, viewing, and printing interface. Windows a PC that meets Windows XP’s with software from MusicMatch and others. XP’s My Pictures folder presents links to specific tasks related to Web browsing, e-mail, entertainment, and other upgrade to Windows XP you’ll have better compatibility with games, apps, and hardware, requirements personal tasks Professional plus new media tools, remote access, and Fast User Switching. Windows Movie Maker is basically the same lite, throwaway the folder’s content: viewing a photo slide show, printing pho- video transfer and editing utility included in Windows Me. Its tos, ordering prints online, and uploading photos to a Web 96 W W W. P C W O R L D.C O M NOVEMBER 2001 NOVEMBER 2001 W W W. P C W O R L D.C O M 97
  5. C OV E R S T O RY CLEARTYPE: CURE FOR THE LCD JAGGIES able to create and delete accounts, override passwords on accounts, and tinker with other users’ files and settings. To ensure that your data and identity are secure, make yourself the only Administrator on the system. If multiple people do use the computer, and the PC isn’t at the low end of Windows XP’s system requirements, you should try a new feature called Fast User Switching, which allows one user to remain logged in—pro- grams running and all—while another user takes over and launches other programs. BEFORE: Fonts on an LCD monitor or AFTER: ClearType smoothes the type, Switching between two logged-in user ac- notebook display look jagged. making text easier on the eyes. counts takes only seconds, as long as the machine has sufficient RAM; in our testing, site. As we went to press, the Online Print Ordering Wizard list- 128MB was plenty for moderate multiuser loads. And since Win- ed two services, from Fujicolor and Kodak, both offering 4-by-6 dows XP resists crashing much better than Windows 9x/Me, the prints for the going rate of 49 cents each. Web publishing new feature could change the way families and offices share a options were still limited to MSN and Xdrive. Microsoft says computer. For example, you could leave your QuickBooks file other services will appear later this year. F E AT U R E S The Scanner and Camera Wizard lets you download, view, and delete images stored on an attached digital camera, as well as take photos from the computer screen—if your camera complies WHAT’S NEW TO XP? with Microsoft’s Windows Image Acquisition specification. It’s SOME OF the Windows XP features Microsoft is touting actually all good, although these features may be a subset of the capabil- were introduced in previous Windows versions or in other products. ities your camera’s own software already offers—if it is compat- ible with Windows XP. Microsoft says most Windows 2000 ver- sions of digital camera software will work with Windows XP. FEATURE First appeared in INTERFACE Security & Sharing Themes Simplified folder views Windows 95 Windows Me if you’re unfamiliar with Windows 2000 and its predeces- Window/cursor animation Windows 98 sor, Windows NT, get ready for changes in the way you access Fast User Switching Windows XP your PC and its contents. In Windows 9x, security was an easy- DIGITAL MEDIA to-bypass afterthought. Anyone could read, edit, or delete any file Windows Media Player for Windows XP Windows XP on the hard disk, since neither the MS-DOS operating system Windows Movie Maker Windows Me underlying Windows 9x/Me nor the FAT and FAT32 file sys- CD ripping Windows Me tems have any mechanism for controlling file access, other than SECURITY the simple read-only flag. That’s a problem for anybody whose User log-in and file security Windows NT 3.1 computer is accessible to coworkers, kids, roommates, or others. Remote Desktop Windows XP In contrast, Windows XP maintains tight control over who is File/folder encryption Windows NT 4.0 who and who does what. You can require users to log in, so that PC HEALTH only authorized users can access files. This is good, not only for System Restore Windows Me protecting your data, but for preserving settings and preferences. Remote Assistance Windows XP Windows XP recognizes three kinds of users. Administrators INTERNET have full control over all aspects of system configuration; the Internet Explorer 6 Free download as of August 2001 other two categories, Limited and Guest, have curtailed capabil- Windows Messenger Windows XP ities. You’ll want to pay attention during installation, when both Personal firewall Windows XP the Home Edition and Professional versions prompt you to cre- Internet Connection Sharing Windows 98 SE ate user accounts: By default they make everyone on board an OTHER Administrator—a recipe for disaster if any of the users are Windows Product Activation Office 2000 inquisitive children or unhappy employees. Administrators are 98 W W W. P C W O R L D.C O M NOVEMBER 2001
  6. C OV E R S T O RY open for weeks, while the kids play games, download files, and Windows XP Professional, so the PC you wish to control must surf the Internet. (Remember to save your data before leaving, run that version of the OS. The system dialing in from afar, how- however, to avoid losing it if the PC is shut down.) ever, needs only a Windows Terminal Services client (some are Remote Desktop, a related feature, uses some of the same included on the Windows XP CD-ROM or are available for down- underlying multiuser technology as Fast User Switching to allow load—there’s even one for Pocket PCs). If you forget to load up you to connect to and control your PC over a phone line or the your documents and e-mail before a trip, this feature puts them Internet. Competing with third-party remote-control applications just a dial-up connection away. Performance for word process- like Symantec’s PC Anywhere, Remote Desktop is exclusive to ing and similar tasks is good, even over a 56-kbps modem. LAB TESTS mance difference was in start- Fast User Switching—its ability XP Performance: up and shutdown times. Win- dows 2000 took more than 20 to let one user’s apps run in the background when one or more Satisfactory, Not Stellar seconds longer to boot, be- other users log in—affects per- cause it’s much larger than formance, we ran the same MICROSOFT touts XP as the them both with Microsoft’s rec- Windows Me, and because XP Word 2000, Access 2000, fastest incarnation of Windows ommended minimum of 128MB uses new optimizations for Notes 5, and Photoshop 6 tests ever. But in our tests, we found of RAM and with 256MB. Since reading and loading OS code shown in the chart, but with a its performance generally on a the difference in the two sys- into memory. Windows 98 second user logged in and with par with that of other recent tems’ results reflected only the users may see a marked im- Netscape Navigator, Lotus Windows versions. It may not Athlon’s faster speed, we omit- TEST REPORT be a reason to upgrade, but ted the Celeron figures here. neither is it a reason not to. We also found no performance FAST BOOTS WITH XP AND ME The PC World Test Center difference between the two OS Boot-up (seconds) Shutdown (seconds) compared XP Home Edition versions of Windows XP. and Professional with Windows Memory, generally consid- Windows XP Professional 34 9 Me and 2000 by putting all of ered a low-cost performance Windows 2000 57 9 the OSs through a battery of pick-me-up, had little impact hand-timed application per- except in the memory-inten- Windows Me 35 3 formance tests (see “How We sive Photoshop 6 tests. If you Test” in the chart below). The spend a lot of time using Pho- provement in boot-up times, Notes, and Windows Movie XP-compatible version of PC toshop or other RAM-hungry too, since that OS doesn’t sup- Maker still running. Though we WorldBench wasn’t ready in applications—or if you typically port Fast Boot BIOSs as the anticipated that this might time for use in this story. run many active applications at three later Windows do. degrade performance, and that We used two PCs represent- once—upgrading to 256MB of At shutdown, Windows Me additional RAM might restore ing the low and medium-high RAM should help regardless of outperforms the others by the lost performance, we were ends of the current market: an which Windows you use. unceremoniously dropping net- wrong: We got virtually the 800-MHz Celeron PC and a 1.4- One place where our testing work connections. same results with both 128MB GHz Athlon model. We tested revealed a perceptible perfor- To test how Windows XP’s and 256MB, whether a second user was logged in or not. TEST REPORT Still, your use of Fast User Switching may tax your system WINDOWS VS. WINDOWS VS. WINDOWS: A WASH more severely. If you plan to OS Word 2000 Access 2000 Notes 5 Photoshop 6 Multitasking keep more users logged in or to Windows XP Professional 47 31 2 60 356 run more apps, extra RAM may keep your foreground user Windows 2000 45 33 4 66 345 accounts running faster. And if Windows Me 44 36 4 54 355 you plan to use Fast User Switching on less-powerful sys- HOW WE TEST: We tested each OS by hand-timing boot-up, shutdown, and common tasks in Microsoft Office 2000, Lotus TEST Notes R5, Adobe Photoshop 6.0, and Netscape Navigator 4.08. We ran all tests on a 1.4-GHz Athlon-based PC and a Celeron- tems with less RAM, be pre- Center 800—based PC, first with 128MB of RAM, then with 256MB. All times are in seconds. See find.pcworld.com/14720 for details. pared for slowdowns. 100 W W W. P C W O R L D.C O M NOVEMBER 2001
  7. C OV E R S T O RY son requesting help allows, the respon- Help Is Here dent can view the remote computer while windows xp’s revamped Help system chatting over Windows Messenger—the simplifies troubleshooting and configur- equivalent of looking over someone’s ing your PC—and asking another human shoulder while they explain what’s wrong being for assistance. From a new Web- with the computer—or take complete page-like Help and Support Center on the command of the computer remotely. The Start menu, you can browse standard sta- XP INHERITS only drawback: Both systems must be tic help content, jump over to Microsoft MANY OF running Windows XP. product newsgroups, check for fixes on System Restore, which debuted in Win- Windows Update, and launch any of the WINDOWS ME’S dows Me, is another terrific help tool. Like troubleshooting tools pioneered in earlier DIGITAL MEDIA Roxio’s GoBack, System Restore lets you Windows versions. take your system’s configuration back to A couple of new tools could make Win- FEATURES. a specific point in time—uninstalling dows XP a must-have upgrade for some. applications and drivers, and reversing If you’ve ever donated an aging PC to a friend or relative, you settings. System Restore monitors your activity and creates know what happens next: They need help, usually by long-dis- restore points automatically at sensible moments, such as just tance. Remote Assistance, also based on Windows Terminal Ser- before you install new drivers. You can set your own restore vices, allows one Windows XP user to request help from anoth- points, too. And XP introduces a related feature: driver rollback. er, either via e-mail or through the Windows Messenger instant When you install a new driver, the OS retains a copy of the old messaging client. Depending on which level of control the per- one as a backup in case the new one causes problems. COPY CONTROLS Product Activation: Not So Bad After All W I N D OWS Product Activa- sends you a certificate activat- tion, which is designed to ing your copy of Windows XP enforce Microsoft’s license on that particular machine. terms by preventing users from running one copy of Win- CALLING MICROSOFT dows XP on several PCs, has I F YO U T RY to install Win- alarmed people who fear it will dows XP on a different com- hamper legitimate hardware puter, producing a new hard- ACTIVATION, NOT REGISTRATION: You don’t have to give your upgrades. But Microsoft ap- ware identifier, a dialog box will name or other personal information to activate Windows XP. pears to have listened to the pop up asking you to call a complaints (see “Readers to Microsoft operator (Microsoft be able to remove or replace More importantly, WPA re- Microsoft: Copy Controls? No says operators will be available up to six other signature ele- sets after 120 days, consider- Way!” from August 2001, at around the clock) and explain ments (including the display ing whatever you have to be find.pcworld.com/14700). the discrepancy. If satisfied and IDE adapters, the CPU, the the activated configuration. Within 30 days of installing with your response (and Micro- amount of installed RAM, the That means that after four the OS, you must activate it soft says it will always give hard drive, and the CD-ROM/ months you can install XP on a with Microsoft, a process every users the benefit of the doubt), RW or DVD drive) without trig- second PC, activate it, and participating PC World editor the operator will issue you a gering activation, Microsoft keep the first one operating found painless. Windows XP new certificate, which you’ll says. Otherwise, you can still without running afoul of WPA. sends a numeric identifier gen- type into a dialog box to com- change up to four other ele- Doing so would violate the erated from ten of your sys- plete the boot process. ments before having to contact software license, but Microsoft tem’s components to Micro- If you have a network card Microsoft. Adding components is probably wise to cut us all soft’s server, which in turn and leave it alone, you should never triggers a challenge. some slack here. 102 W W W. P C W O R L D.C O M NOVEMBER 2001
  8. C OV E R S T O RY It’s no-frills, but it A Nod to the Net does its job well. like windows 98 and me, XP introduces a new version of Enabling Internet Internet Explorer. But Internet Explorer 6 delivers almost as few Connection Sharing new features as, well, Internet Explorer 5.5. Most bolster support automatically en- for Web standards, including a new privacy spec called P3P (see ables the firewall. Internet Tips, page 182). P3P, and hence IE 6, will play a major The firewall’s de- role in Microsoft’s .Net effort, through the Passport authentica- fault settings suffice tion system (see “The Road Ahead: .Net on the Horizon?” below). to deter incoming What else does IE 6 offer? A snazzy look for navigation icons, probes. XP’s firewall and a new Explorer bar (called Media) that puts Microsoft’s Win- is a one-way affair, FACE TIME: Windows Messenger now dowsMedia.com site a little closer to your face than it would oth- however: If a virus includes videoconferencing capability. erwise be. One slight inconvenience: Windows XP doesn’t slides through in an include Java support. If your system doesn’t have the necessary e-mail attachment (as Trojan horses do), it’s free to upload your Java software and you visit a game site or another Web site that data or perform other harmful outgoing tasks. demands it, you’ll be prompted to download the 5MB Java Vir- Finally, Windows XP includes support for the increasingly tual Machine from Microsoft’s site. popular 802.11b wireless ethernet standard as well, automatical- More interesting than IE 6 is the Windows Messenger appli- ly integrating it into your other network connections. cation. Not just a rewrite of earlier Microsoft efforts (MSN Mes- senger and Netmeeting), Messenger lets Webcam-equipped EXPERIENCE XP Windows XP users videoconference with each other. Messenger we may be unimpressed with some XP features, but don’t users can also text-chat with MSN Messenger users. Microsoft let that obscure the big picture. With security and stability that says the program could interact with other clients—including far surpass Windows 9x’s, decent performance, and reasonable AOL’s—in the future, since Messenger is based on the nonpro- pricing, Windows XP gets PC World’s thumbs-up. It may not be prietary Session Initiation Protocol standard. the best Windows possible, but it’s the best Windows to date. In a nod to the growth of broadband access, XP contains a firewall—software that protects your PC against attempts Scott Spanbauer, a contributing editor for by hackers to access it through your Net connection. PC World, lives in Boulder, Colorado. W H AT ’ S N E X T The Road Ahead: .Net on the Horizon? WITH WINDOWS XP out the .Net shapes up as a The suite will link the com- door, Microsoft can focus on its collection of prod- pany’s Passport authentica- ambitious plan to change com- ucts, services, and tion system with instant mes- puting as we know it. technologies all de- saging and mail applications, The latest versions of Win- signed to further the guage, so users of .Net-enabled oper- dows, Pocket PC, and Office goal of universal connec- can pre- ating systems (including Win- are part of the company’s tivity via the Net. Though third- sent struc- dows XP and Pocket PC) can vision of a universal computing party firms are also developing tured data (such as databases retrieve calendars, contacts, e- network that reaches across all .Net products, Microsoft is and spreadsheets) and is more mail , voice mail, and other per- kinds of devices: PCs, hand- leading the way with develop- similar to traditional software sonal information wherever helds, servers, and even house- ment tools, server products, development languages. they are, whenever they want. hold appliances. In Microsoft’s and client software. Everything The first major .Net compo- The company is making Pass- scheme, these devices are all will be based on the industry- nent most of us will encounter port available to other services connected in a digital weave standard Extensible Markup is a suite of services, called .Net that authenticate users. But known as .Net. Language (XML), which, unlike My Services, that Microsoft will you be comfortable with Though details are sketchy, the Web-pioneering HTML lan- hopes to launch by next year. Microsoft holding all the keys? 104 W W W. P C W O R L D.C O M NOVEMBER 2001
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