The Good Streamlined interface; better performance on many systems; easier and more capable networking; integrated CD-R/RW playback and burn features; Pro version's Remote Assistance tool aids troubleshooting and control of remote PCs.
The Bad You can install XP on only one machine; piddling discounts for additional PC licenses; nags you to sign up for Passport Web account; Home Edition's multiple-user login screens are often redundant; heavy system requirements.
The Bottom Line Despite its many annoyances, XP is a worthwhile upgrade. Unless you need corporate administration tools, XP Home Edition should suffice for most--even for small businesses. Enterprise customers, look to Professional Edition.
Microsoft Windows XP - Home Edition
After a buildup of Hollywood proportions, Microsoft has released its final cut of Windows XP. PC makers received final code last week, and you'll be able to pick up your own copy come October 25, although some vendors will most likely release systems with XP preinstalled before that date.After a buildup of Hollywood proportions, Microsoft has released its final cut of Windows XP. PC makers received final code last week, and you'll be able to pick up your own copy come October 25, although some vendors will most likely release systems with XP preinstalled before that date.
So is XP worth all the hype? Grudgingly, we say yes. This major upgrade at long last ends the distinction between the corporate (and more stable) NT/2000 Windows and the consumer-oriented Windows 95/98/Millennium. XP provides similar variations of the same OS for both home and business: XP Home and XP Professional editions. On the outside, XP looks radically different from any previous Windows version. It's spiffier, with both aesthetic and functional redesigns, and features login screens for home and corporate systems alike--something many Windows 95/98 users have never seen.
Like any radical overhaul, XP takes some getting used to--we often lost patience with it--but, after time, it's hard not to like the new design. While its new, hand-holding "task-oriented" design may annoy experienced users, Microsoft nevertheless managed to create an OS that works equally well for novices, corporate users, and enthusiasts. Despite hefty system requirements (a Pentium II-300 or faster, 128MB of RAM, and 1.5GB of free disk space), onerous product activation, and some not-so-obvious touting of Microsoft's business partners, you'll want to consider an upgrade--if not immediately, certainly the next time you buy a PC.
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