MS's XP can be
annoying, but overall
by Alan Zisman (c) 2002
First published in Business in
Issue #647 March 19-25, 2002, High Tech Office column
When Microsoft's next
system Windows XP was just released, I was grumpy. Yes, XP wedded the
smarts of the earlier Windows ME with the robustness of Windows NT and
2000, giving home and office users a system that crashed less.
And yes, it provided a colourful
new look and
feel that many might find easier to use.
But it also bugs new users to
sign up for a Microsoft
Passport account and in many places, the interface included links to a
variety of ways to get the user to open his or her wallet.
Since purchasing a new computer,
lived and worked with XP more intensively. And I'm forced to admit that
with this operating system, Microsoft did a number of things right.
- I installed this operating
system from scratch, and
found it the quickest and smoothest installation of any Windows version
- It looks good, and has run
without problem. No crashes,
no downtime. The computer feels smoother than I've experienced before.
Some of this, of course, may be from using a newer, more powerful
than ever before.
- The support for multiple
will be important
for many home and work users. Each user gets his or her own desktop,
Menu, and settings. The log-on screen is attractive and easy to use.
can change the pictures that appear beside their name from the user
- The new interface is
and tries to stay that
way by automatically removing little-used desktop icons and the like.
new Start Menu makes it easy to get back to programs you use often
it's a bit harder to find the programs you just use now and then). Tip:
You can "pin" an icon to the top-left area of the Start Menu, by
- Plug and play works better.
some cases, it seems
almost magical how quickly and easily it finds and installs the new
without any user intervention. Well done!
Now for the other side. My
experience is with
a fresh installation on new, virgin hardware. Updating existing
and working with older hardware (even systems only a year or two old)
be more problematic. You may find there are no drivers for the computer
accessories you currently own. My son's Agfa digital camera
work with XP, and Agfa, which has left the digicam business, says it
going to bother writing drivers for the new operating system. The
self-installing printing and scanning support offers fewer generic
compared to the customized drivers that manufacturers wrote for older
systems. HP, for example, promises full-featured drivers Ö
sooner or later.
Most software plays nice with
setup. But some programs don't. For example, you can install Corel
Word Perfect Office 2002 for multiple users Ö but only if you know
a secret trick. (Setup from the RUN command, using the not-so-obvious
switch. If you don't do this, only a single user can run the software.)
Many users will want to get the
Home Edition. In most cases, this will be fine for home and small
users, at least until they need to connect to a network server. If you
take a notebook computer from home to work or school, this could become
I still don't like the nags to
get an MS Passport,
but at least if you ignore it, it stops after a couple of days.
It runs smoothly on my fast new
I know it takes a lot of computing power for XP's glossy look. (You can
turn off the eye-candy to improve performance.) As has been said
"Intel giveth, and Microsoft taketh away."
On new hardware, Windows XP has
a lot going for
it. But you might want to wait until you get a new computer.