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XP released; Do you need it?

Microsoft officially launches the newest version of its operating system in New York. But consumers and analysts are unsure about demand for the software.

NEW YORK--Microsoft officially launched Windows XP, the newest version of its operating system and what could be the company's most important product in more than six years.

The Gatekeeper: Windows XP The long-anticipated operating system, which Microsoft said improves performance, reliability and ease of use, is available at retail as of Thursday.

"Today is a great day for PC users and a great day for the PC industry," Gates said. But can XP pull the industry out of a prolonged slump? (Complete coverage)

Other Windows XP news

• Activation frustration: 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. Product Activation forces customers to register with Microsoft, something that many people are reluctant to do. (Complete coverage)

• Buy, install, fix: People rushing out to buy Windows XP on Thursday may be surprised by the hefty package of downloads already available for updating the brand-new operating system. Some fix security holes, others resolve glitches and a few add new features. (Complete coverage)

• Adoption rate questioned: Windows XP will not surpass previous versions of the operating system for at least two more years, a market research firm predicts. About 10 percent of new consumer PCs shipped in 2001 will include Windows XP. By comparison, Windows 95 was included with 30 percent of Windows PCs shipped in 1995. (Complete coverage)

• XP rejects Snow White: The new operating system does not play one of the hottest DVDs of the holiday season: Disney's re-release of its classic film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." The problem surfaced on the eve of the operating system's release, and comes as Disney is trying to boost sagging profits. (Complete coverage)

• Browser block removed: On the same day that Microsoft released Windows XP, the company also redesigned its MSN Web portal--the problem is that several non-Microsoft browsers, such as Netscape Navigator, Opera and Mozilla, could not access the site for several hours. (Complete coverage)

Jim Allchin, group vice president of the Microsoft Platform Group, explains the new features included with Windows XP. (5:31)

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• XP and the law: On the antitrust front, the 18 states working with the Justice Department to prosecute Microsoft retained veteran attorney Brendan Sullivan of Williams & Connolly to lead their cause. The government and other critics have recently raised concerns about Windows XP. (Complete coverage)

• A chorus of support: In an announcement with eerie similarities to Microsoft's first major salvo in the browser wars, the software giant revealed that 150 companies will support Windows XP's media technology and formats. (Complete coverage)