If News.com's readers are any indication, Windows XP may be a tough sell. The reasons: a new activation requirement and few compelling features.
Readers: It's not worth the trouble
By Lara Wright
A new technology meant to prevent illegal copying of Microsoft's latest operating system is stopping many people from buying it, according to an informal survey of CNET News.com readers.
After a person registers Windows XP over the phone or through Microsoft's Web site, the software giant locks the operating system to that person's PC hardware configuration. If the customer changes or upgrades six components within 120 days, Windows XP can be disabled until the customer contacts Microsoft for reactivation.
Microsoft also could use the anti-piracy technology to deactivate the operating system if a business customer were to fail to pay fees under a new licensing plan, under which customers must upgrade every two years.
"I have bought thousands of dollars worth of Microsoft products for myself and my business. However, as a developer, my computers are constantly being changed and upgraded, and this new licensing scheme will be too much of a hassle," wrote Don Fitzpatrick, president of Brookfield, Wis.-based InterNetworx Systems, which makes business software for small and medium-sized companies.
He was among more than two-thirds of the respondents who answered with a vehement "no" to this News.com question posted on the Web site over the past month: "Do you think Windows XP is worth buying?" Half of those who responded negatively cited the activation feature and licensing changes as top reasons for skipping the upgrade.
Many News.com readers also complained about the hardware requirements, the price and the integration of some features, which they said amounted to unfair competition. These readers expressed little faith that the software would be secure, compatible with other programs or relatively bug-free, adding that the new operating system offered no compelling reason to switch from Windows 2000.
"We need stability, efficiency and economy," wrote reader J. Mark Egermeier, technical director of Answer Phone Telemessaging in Tulsa, Okla. "Microsoft offers increasing complexity and bloat along with a scary migration toward 'leased' software. We want an operating system, not a Swiss Army knife."
Windows XP did get positive reviews from some readers who said they have used the public test version of the operating system. Many of those readers said it is faster, crashes less often and is easier on the eyes than previous Windows systems.
"I have been using XP for the last couple of months. I have purposely tried to overwhelm the operating system and have failed. I'm amazed at the stability of the OS," wrote Tom Witwer, a business manager from Phoenix. "I've bounced between all my software packages, kept three or four programs running at once (never could before), and I've even played my graphics-intensive games and go right back to work afterward without a restart."
Below are more comments from News.com readers.
Activating Big Brother?
eXtra Pathetic. The only value in XP is for Microsoft, who forces customers to register to protect itself. Where is the protection for customers? Where are features to fix Windows when it breaks? Instead, we get features to fix Microsoft's revenue stream. XP offers no value to me.
XP is more of a downgrade and not worth buying. Too many issues--spyware and incompatibilities being the most important. I don't need the eye candy or Micro$oft controlling my PC.
You have to call Microsoft each time XP needs to be installed and explain why you are reinstalling it. For people who have to format their hard drives frequently, this is ridiculous. They've taken anti-piracy practices a bit too far.
Tired of pricey upgrades
Like every other Windows update in the last few years, it offers few new features and seems to tighten Microsoft's stranglehold on the technology industry. It seems silly to force us to keep upgrading every few months just because Microsoft needs to meet earnings expectations.
Good play for gamers?
I've been beta-testing XP Home and Professional Editions for over a year, and this is the best OS I have ever used, period. Its stability is outstanding; I have not had a single "blue screen of death" during my testing. I have been using the Home Edition RTM code (2600) as my primary OS for about the past month, and I find it far superior to WinMe and Win98SE, and its gaming compatibility far exceeds Win2000.
Right for some
Windows XP is not worth buying if you have Windows 2000 deployed in your business, because it does not offer much more. But it is worth buying if you have Windows 95, 98, Me or NT 4 deployed in your business or home, because XP is more stable and offers better features. Although XP requires more PC resources, the features are worth getting the extra RAM and/or disk for.
Bloated with features
I do not want to be an XP user because of the piracy protections and also because of what I assume to be lots of bloated code due to the built-in new programs--instant messenger, etc. Even though Microsoft tells you that you can default to other software, it's very hard to do. I still can't figure out how to get rid of Media Player starting whenever I put an audio CD in the drive.
WinXP is too bloated with "features" that are totally worthless and uninstallable. I am beginning to wonder if Windows XP is an OS or just a bunch of "features" added to Win2K and put in a different-color box.
Passport to insecurity
Though Microsoft claims the personal firewall will entirely cease malicious use of it, the company is providing unrestricted program access to raw sockets, so anyone with a basic knowledge of Windows programming can create a worm (using the security flaws that Microsoft is renowned for and that will inevitably show up in XP) to create XP-specific DDoS attacks. This essentially makes all of their rewrites from the Windows 95 TCP/IP stack for naught, since they have degraded the security of it by doing so.
I'm still using Windows 95. Why? Because the security holes are pretty well known and patched now. Hackers aren't really after Windows 95 anymore.
XP is a monumental step forward for home users. Now they have a reliable, easy-to-use, easy-to-do-things-on OS. The file system does not lose files. Parents can block kids from going to certain areas on the computer or deleting things. New features make it easier to do things, not the least of which is the new Start menu. Once in a while, a marketing slogan proves true: Windows XP is a great eXPerience.
Win9x/Me is finally dead! Hallelujah! No more buggy, unstable home OSes. We are finally getting the "convergence" product that brings together the home OS and the office OS into a single, stable platform. Frankly, I am ecstatic at the prospect of seeing the Win9x/Me platform go away.
I have been running Windows XP for about a year now (from beta 1 on). I think it is a great OS and a must for Windows 9x/Me users. All this complaining about Media Player, digital imaging and communications software integration is ridiculous. All this software was a part of Windows Me, and that didn't bring the competitors to their knees. Microsoft has included a basic set of programs and features based on consumer need.
Windows XP is the best release of an operating system. As a staunch supporter I thought nothing could top Windows 2000. Windows XP has proved me wrong by allowing more of my older software to work with its new compatibility mode. Stability is equal to that of Windows 2000.