California Bar Journal
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Microsoft promises new Windows in the fall

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Dana ShultzWith 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 (, 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.

Solid Base

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 difficulties.

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.

Enhanced functions

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 CD-writing software.

The new version of Windows Media Player included with XP will provide better audio and video playback and will be integrated into Internet Explorer.

Difficult upgrades

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 O.S.

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.

Dana 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