a little luck, 2001 will bring the Windows operating system we all
have been waiting for. For years, Microsoft forced us to choose either
a reliable O.S. with limited software and hardware compatibility
(Windows NT/2000) or a highly compatible O.S. that crashes way too
often (Windows 95/98/Me). Windows XP (www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/),
due this fall in both Professional and Home versions, will offer the
best of both worlds.
XP's most obvious change will be a cleaner,
more inviting look and feel. Icons will look sharper, and colors will
help signify different actions.
By default, shortcut icons will appear in a
simplified Start menu rather than on the desktop. In addition, the
more frequently you use items, the more prominently they will appear
on the Start menu and the task bar.
Because XP development started from the Windows
2000 code base, the new O.S. should be very stable. Furthermore,
several new features will help users avoid and recover from
If you experience a Windows failure or another
significant problem, System Restore will let you revert to a prior
state in which your PC worked normally. Documents will retain their
latest versions, so System Restore will not destroy work product.
Windows XP will impose strict tests to ensure
device driver compatibility. For certain types of drivers, XP will
keep a copy of the previously installed version. If the new version
creates a problem, XP can reinstall the earlier version.
To thwart internet-based intruders, Windows XP
will include basic firewall software.
Hundreds of applications that do not run on
Windows 2000 will run on Windows XP. In addition, applications that
are not XP-compatible will run in Windows NT or 95/98/Me compatibility
mode under XP.
XP will include direct support for writing CDs
(both CD-R and CD-RW) and reading DVDs. No longer will there be any
need for special software drivers bundled with CD or DVD drives or
The new version of Windows Media Player included
with XP will provide better audio and video playback and will be
integrated into Internet Explorer.
Microsoft claims that PCs with 64 megabytes of
main memory and Windows 2000 or Millennium Edition preinstalled (and
sporting Microsoft's "designed for" logo) will be suitable for
upgrading to XP.
My advice: Don't do it. Windows upgrades are
notorious for creating problems. Besides, despite what Microsoft says,
running XP with less than 128 MB of main memory almost certainly will
lead to slow performance.
If you really want Windows XP, wait until early
2002. By then, XP will be a known commodity and PC manufacturers will
have ironed out the minor wrinkles that come with integrating any new
If you cannot wait that long, just stick with
whichever version of Windows comes with your new PC, and figure that
XP (or its successor) will be available next time you buy.
Shultz is vice president and legal counsel for an international
financial services organization, where he specializes in technology
licensing and related transactions. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.