OS brighter, more intelligent than others
First published in Business in
October 16, 2001 Issue # 625, The high-tech office column
by ALAN ZISMAN (c)
Spending about US$1 billion to publicize the
October 25 launch
of Windows XP, Microsoft considers this new operating system
most significant new product release since Windows 95.
In many ways, the company is right.
With this release, the company has finally merged its
line of operating systems, aimed primarily at home users, with its
NT/2000 product line, aimed at business desktops and servers.
Two different product lines mean added costs for
Microsoft, for hardware
and software developers, and for businesses supporting users running
Not to be confused with Office XP, two different
versions of Windows
XP remain -- one aimed at consumers and the other aimed at business
Home users pay less (US$199 versus US$299) and get a somewhat different
look and feel. Business users get a few extra features: more networking
options, remote access and added security features. But under the hood,
both versions are built on top of the same code base, evolved from last
year's robust Windows 2000 release.
Microsoft claims built-in drivers for the 1,000 most
add-ons along with drivers for tens of thousands of other devices. All
in all, more hardware and software support than Windows 2000, though
than Windows 98.
Windows XP is brighter and more colourful than
previous versions, even
though it is based on Windows 2000.
A taskbar still runs along the bottom of the screen
with a Start button
in the left-hand corner, but it's bigger, and the 3D look takes better
advantage of larger monitors, making it easier to click on little
It's a cleaner look, too. By default, the desktop
sports just a single
icon: a Recycle Bin moved to a Mac-like lower left-hand corner. Icons
on users' desktops by program installations will magically disappear if
they aren't used over time. The taskbar is tidier, too. The tiny icons
in the formerly cluttered lower-right Notification Area disappear if
not active. And when the taskbar gets too crowded, buttons are grouped
together rather than simply becoming smaller and unreadable. Click and
a list of the various open windows pops up.
Control Panel items are also grouped into categories.
This may make
things easier to find and certainly is a cleaner look. Don't like it?
click changes back to "classic view." The Control Panel, along with
Computer windows all sport a new two-paned look, with the left side
a list of what Microsoft considers the things that users are most
to want to do. The list changes according to what's displayed on the
Much of the time Microsoft's choice is correct, making it easier to,
example, create a new folder or search for files.
The Start Menu also receives a makeover, again, with
the new two-paned
look. At first, the left side lists Microsoft's favourite Windows XP
but that changes to include your last five programs run. At the bottom,
there's an arrow for "All Programs," the contents of the old-style
Menu. The right side offers quick links to My Documents, My Pictures
My Music folders, along with My Computer, the Control Panel and the
of recently opened documents. If you store your files Microsoft's way,
access is much easier. Again, you can reset it to the "Classic Start
look, if you prefer, which also dumps the old set of icons back along
left side of the screen.
The support for multiple users is nice. A new user can
log on, without
losing the previous user's work. Come back to your PC, click your name
on the log-on screen and you're quickly back to where you left off.
Windows XP: colourful, easier to use and more stable.
What's not to
like? Check in next week.