Windows XP was introduced as a major upgrade to Windows 98 and Widows Millennium. After Microsoft released MS-DOS in the 1980's it developed its revolutionary operating system -- Windows. Newer versions of this operating system were developed over the years, including the release of Windows NT (New Technology) which was aimed at business users and computer servers. After various incarnations of the Windows OS, including Windows 95, 98 and the much criticized Windows Millennium, the XP system was released October 25, 2001
Technically Windows XP has much in common with the characteristics and architecture of Windows 2000. In essence XP was developed to'bridge the two architectures (NT and Windows 9x -- or DOS) into one common operating system." Windows 2000 was based on Windows NT technology; while Millennium (ME) was developed from Windows 9x technology. The NT operating system was much more reliable than the other previous versions of Windows and therefore Microsoft decided to choose this technology as the foundation for XP. XP was released in two basic versions -- the home and the professional version. The basic difference between the two versions is that the professional version places more emphasis on security. It also has the facility to encrypt files and data and has support for multiprocessor systems. ( Lanyon P.)
2. Advantages and disadvantages
Windows XP was developed to improve on the faults and inconsistencies in the ME system, but it is essentially a completely new operating system. "Windows XP is a complete re-write and overhaul with a slightly modified interface compared to Windows 98 and ME. In fact it is based upon the accredited more stable Windows 2000 and the NT platform designed for network users." (DOMINICQUICK2004) June 8, 2005.
This fact is immediately indicative of the inherent advantages of the XP operating system. Networking is also an aspect that has been considerably improved in XP. Attention has been given to " ... integrating stand-alone PCs and those connected either through a local area network (LAN) and/or remote area networks." ( ibid)
Another related advantage of the XP system is connectivity. Connectivity has been considerably improved in XP, with user-friendly and easy access to plug and play devices. "XP automatically detects new installations and installs software drivers automatically, where possible, otherwise prompting the user to insert the correct CD. Improvements mean that this happens almost seamlessly, "( ibid) This issue points to one of the central advantages and selling points of the latest Windows environment; namely that the focus has been placed on user accessibility and more intuitive interaction between the various components of the system. This aspect is mainly facilitated by the NT foundation of the system.
In terms of the content and applications in the OS, most of the useful and well-known programs have been retained in XP. These include applications such as Notepad and Paint as well as Ping and Net. This is a positive aspect as it allows for continuity for users who upgrade from previous versions. XP also includes applications such as IIS (Internet Information Server, version 5), which includes both a web server and FTP server. (The Old and the Improved) Another aspect that has added advantage to the system is the inclusion of CD burning software as an integral part of XP. CD storage has become a ubiquitous part of role computing and having integrated software in the operating system is a definite plus.
There have also been improvements in other areas. One of the most obvious of these is the improvement in audio and video functionality, with more robust manipulation of digital imagery. Furthermore, XP has shown considerable improvements in the management of files. Another advantage of the XP system is the facility to use multiple monitors, which also means that the desktops can be extended over several screens. This is an decided advantage for many supers, especially those who do presentations. For example one user states that "There is no problem conducting a Microsoft Power point demonstration to an audience gathered. You work on one PC but control images across two (or more) screens." (DOMINICQUICK2004)
There is also considerably more support for mobile uses and IT personnel.. For example, the Remote Desktop Connection which has been based on the Terminal Services in Windows NT and 2000 servers allows any computer with Windows XP to control another computer over a landline or the internet. The Sharing of Internet connections has also been improved. For example, " ... A Network Bridge feature eases the task of combining separate network technologies such as Ethernet, Home PNA, and wireless. In fact, Windows XP includes code to connect to 802.11b wireless networks. "
(Microsoft Ships Its Biggest OS Upgrade Ever -- Early!)
On a more technical level, XP shows substantial improvements in performance when compared to previous incarnations of the operating system, as well as in the usage of system resources. This is an important advantage of the new operating system as previous versions of Windows have been particularly lacking in this department. This negative factor in other versions was largely due the need for backward compatibility with previous version of Windows. "Consumption of free System Resources has been an important and frustrating issue in Windows 9x, at least for many users, due to an architecture that was necessary for the backwards compatibility that has been so important in Windows 9x." (WHICH WINDOWS DO I CHOOSE?) This is also an important issue in terms of modern computer demands with regard to intensive graphics and Internet / broadband requirements.
One of the decided advantaged of Windows XP is the implementation of encryption and data recovery, This is a legacy from Windows 2000 with its Encrypting File System (EFS), which has been enhanced in XP. " EFS -- in both Windows 2000 and Windows XP -- supports the use of data recovery agents (DRA) to decrypt files that have been encrypted by other users." (Windows XP Info) The inclusion of the NTFS file system has also added more reliability to the operating system. NTFS is known as a transaction logging system, which has the decided advantage of being able to recover from problems such as power failures and various disk issues. This means that the 'transaction" is logged before it is written to the hard drive or storage device. "If a power failure or other disk problem occurs, NTFS checks the transaction log to see if the transaction was completed successfully. If it was not completed, NTFS backs out the transaction. "(Lewis B.K. )
Possibly the most controversial aspect of the XP release has been security. Once security flaws wee discovered in the system, Microsoft released Service Pack 2, or SP2, which has added considerable depth to the security and privacy aspects of the operating system. The latest upgrade to XP adds a much improved firewall which adds to the essential protection needed by Internet users.
The above factors are some of the main advantages that make XP a more poewrerful and reliable operating system. However, there are also some disadvantages to XP. One of these has already been mentioned -- namely the security system which was severely flawed with the initial release of OS and which has now been patched with SP2. One of the serious disadvantages of the system is compatibility with previous applications and hardware that worked under Windows 98. Many users have experienced problems in this regard.
Another disadvantage that is often mentioned by users is that XP has some fairly stringent system requirement needed to run effectively. These include at least a 300 MHz Processor, 128MB RAM and 1.5GB of hard drive space. (The New) Some users have reported problems even with these basic requirements in the running of certain components. Most of the complaints about XP however relate to the inoperability of older software and hardware -- although there are various ways to remedy these errors, including the download of new and more compatible drivers.
Other disadvantages that have been mentioned by pundits include the following aspects. Disk space requirements are higher and XP's use of RAM is much heavier than in the past, with a realistic minimum for smooth operation at least 256 MB. Another issue is that the interface itself consumes a large amount of system resources and many have objected to the "forced" or required installation of Microsoft software, such as MSN. One of the contentious issues that is still being debated is that an installation key is required, which has to be accessed over the Internet or by phone. This also restricts the instillation of the software package to single computer.
The XP operating system is in many ways a much more effective and stable working environment that previous versions of Windows. Choosing to install XP however also means that one must be aware of the disadvantages as well as the advantages. Most experts tend to agree however that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages -- but this may depend on each use and their specific requirements.