Just because someone says something you don't want to hear, isn't a good enough reason not to read it properly.
If you want to know how to configure the XP firewall, go to the (*gasp*) control pannel and (*double gasp*) double click on "Windows Firewall". You can set up incoming or outgoing blocks on just about anything. IPSec has also been around for quite some time, and could function as a poor man's firewall.
Of course, since my entire argument has been based on XP's firewall having 2-way protection, which you even seemed to get based on the second paragraph, I'm dumbfounded as to how you seem to have forgotten that fact in the very short time that passed until you got to the third paragraph. Where suddenly my argument, as you interpret it, changes to people not needed outgoing protection. How you get from one to the other is truely a boggle to my mind, only compounded by the speed at which you do it.
You just need to remember, that firewalls are a very complex and technical subject. There are many general experts in computers who don't know much about firewalls. People who write for Cnet, they're like any other analyst. Most of them don't even have any sort of formal training in the market they're analyzing. The target market for Cnet, is the tech illiterate, and a fact of life, is that the more of an expert you are on things, the less you're generally able to relate to anyone who isn't. So either Cnet has somehow managed to defy all odds and hire the exceptions to the rule each and every time... Or the more likely scenario... They don't know any more than you do, but you just assume they do because their name is in print.
Just a little nugget to think about. I look after around 150 systems at work. All we use is the XP firewall, and a strong recommondation to use Mozilla Firefox, which is installed on every desktop. It's not because the free versions of firewalls aren't exactly all that free, it's because XP's firewall is perfectly fine for the average user. We feel secure entrusting the fate of 150 systems, all connected to a broadband pipe that drawfs the fastest DSL offered today. Some of those systems are used by government researchers to boot. We are required to physically destroy the hard drives when we replace the system. HDDs these days are a lot tougher than they look too. I managed to break a good chunk off of a cinder block barely denting one.