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Windows XP Home & Professional

Revised on

Originally posted on July 19th, 2001
Updated on April 9th, 2002

Just Another New OS...

[Added after a few months of getting my feet wet with XP]
At first, I really liked XP home & Pro. Well, let me rephrase that. I do like Windows XP. I use it myself on my mission critical PC and my wife's PC. She uses the Home Version and I the Pro. When XP came out, it had everything. Even that new car smell. But then after you drive it for a while, and talk to the service department (MS tech support) you start to think about trading it in.

First I would like to know why Billy wants EVERYONE to activate? This Activation thing is driving me crazy. Not because I pirate software, not in the least, but because it really puts a cramp in my day to day operations. When you buy XP and install it, make sure you write down the installation number that is printed on the orange sticker on the inside of the foldout packet. Get a Sharpie or permanent marker and write it right on the installation CD. Why Billy doesn't print it on the CD for your convenience is beyond me. I guess they're betting that you'll lose the number or mixup your CDs and just say the heck with it and buy another copy.

I have to track dozens of CDs now for my clients. I have to track who's got what CD on what computer and make sure the number matches for future upgrades. Its a pisser. It really pisses me off.

And another thing... Billy removes major functionality from XP that WAS IN Windows 98, ME or 2000. What you may ask? How about the ability to log into a server? That's been removed from XP home, the replacement for Windows 98/ME. You can still connect to a server resource through the Map Drive command thou.

Playing DVDs is out too. Unless you want to fork over another $20 dollars for a addin program for Windows Media Player to let you watch DVDs. Microsoft has printed right on the back of the XP box "Play your favorite DVD's!". That cant be done without the extra purchase kids. MP3 ripping support is removed as well. You have to use Billy's WMA format to making CDs. Remember too that Billy's got the licensing turned on too by default. You can turn it off it the Options menu of Media Player.

Discounts? Yeah sure. If you count on car pooling to Costco to get a copy for yourself with a friend.

So should you upgrade to XP? I say no. Upgrade to Windows 2000 Pro (if you can find it) and make sure it has the Service Pack 2 with it (SR2). Wait for the newer version of the OS to come in mid 2003.


The Cool
Virtually crash proof - New Mac like interface - Drag and Drop CD recording - Remote Assistance - ME like networking - faster than Windows 98/ME or 2K - Movie Maker Software - Firewall Software - Great Driver Support

The Not So Cool
Activation. One disk, one installation. That's it. Bill wants to be the first Trillionaire. If you don't sign up with the .NET service, you loose lots of the so called cool features - Need a pretty fast PC to run it (600MHz) - Extra licenses for home users will only be discounted 10% or so - MP3 support not in Media Player but you can $purchase$ it from MS - Pesky licensing of your songs through Media Player - Plus pack is a disappointment. Oh yes, and if you were expecting to run those DVD movies or rip some MP3s you need to buy a add-on from these guys to accomplish it.

What to expect
Upgrading your present operating system ( 98SE/ME/2000 ) will bring you much pain. I highly recommend a FRESH install. Buy a copy of Ghost to backup and endure the pain honey... When it's installed, you'll really like it. It wont crash. Not unless you install really old software on it.


On The QT:
Windows XP Home & Professional are based on Windows 2000. XP is a phenomenal operating system. I'm not exaggerating here kids. If it's installed right, it's just great. From installation to final use, it's Microsoft crown jewel in my opinion. I'm planning on upgrading all my clients.

When I loaded the OS from scratch, it detected everything on my system. I did have to reboot several times during the OS installation, but having to not reach for ANY of my driver CD's was absolutely amazing.

The only lockup of any kind that I can report about would be the Adobe Photoshop LE software and Roxio's CD Buring software. It locks up occasionally causing me to do a END PROGRAM from the task manager, but XP will recover most times.

Boot up times are great, in fact I think it boots up from a cold start in 34 seconds. The reboot time is very fast, a lot faster than you might think giving the load of hardware I have on the system.

Do you upgrade your present installation or install a fresh copy and start a new...

Well the consensus around here at MH is upgrading will be a major problem for MOST users. We've run extensive tests on many sorts of combinations of clones and store bought PCs [Dell Gateway Micron] and in a nutshell, you're gonna have problems if you upgrade.

We HIGHLY recommend backing up your entire system and running a clean install with the XP CD. Otherwise, you're asking for grief kids.

This means getting a copy of Ghost, partitioning your hard drive into two drives and going from there. If you don't have enough room, get another drive and Ghost from one to the other. Use the old one for data.

Speaking of getting more stuff, Microsoft says you can run this on a 300MHz'ish PC with 128MB of memory. No way. Don't even think about it. If you wanna try this, use that copy of Ghost to put your PC back to the was it was when you started or you're gonna be hating life for a while.

In my opinion the very least configuration is as follows:

600MHz Pentium III or AMD Athlon.
256MB Memory
15GB ATA66 7200RPM Hard Drive
3D Video Card like a Geforce 2 MX or ATI Radeon

If you're unsure whether or not you're system will run XP, try Microsoft's compatibility checker to see if your system is up to snuff. You can also download the the hefty Upgrade Advisor (31mb) to see if you meet some of the requirements for XP.

If you're planning on using that copy to upgrade the entire office or home, think again. Microsoft is doing it's best to prevent you from illegally copying it to your other computers, friends and colleagues. Office XP lets you copy it twice though.

I'm told that if you use a hard drive copying program like Symantec's Ghost or DriveCopy, you can Ghost it on two PCs that have identical hardware. I haven't tried this yet but it sounds logical.

If you're running 802.11b wireless networks you most likely will run into trouble. Check your hardware manufacturer for an update. I've had no trouble with my Netgear Access Point and my PCMCIA MA401 cards.

It's the general feeling around the tech community that Microsoft is attempting to shove you into the .NET service. I recommend signing up for it, but don't use MS's MSN or Hotmail service. Use your own email or better yet if you have your own domain, use your @Anyone account to get mail.

On October 25th, 2001 (day it was released) many people using Netscape, Opera and other non-explorer browsers complained that they couldn't get into their MSN webpages. Microsoft offered a download page instead for Internet Explorer (boy the justice dept. would love this). Microsoft, turns 180' to change it same day!

XP sports a new Search feature and tosses the old 98 style Find/Search. The new feature is more humanistic according to MS. You can now enter in your searches in plain English. The search engine asks, "What do you want to search for?" and lets you use categories like Pictures, Documents, etc. Nice. Microsoft hasn't done away with the others like Google and AskJeeves. You can change the default to whatever you like.

Microsoft has also followed the leader in the department of System Restores. If you need to, you can enter the world of techness to restore replaced system drivers and applications. It's not perfect but it'll get you back running again. I recommend Ghosting your system though.

XP has a new standard for your pictures and video calling it Digital Media. Some things are welcome additions like the new Media Player, but you have to take the good with the bad. Media Player strictly enforces the Music you RIP into it with it's license program. It doesn't even support MP3 unless you purchase the optional upgrade (I'm not sure if it licensees MP3's). You might also want to know the DVD movies aren't all that great on XP. You can play them but you can't decode them. You'll need a good decoder program with MPEG-2 support like PowerDVD or WinDVD.

Windows Movie Maker is a cool plus to XP. Using Microsoft's own WMV format you can edit then email your movie production to friends and family. It's pretty good. I recommend getting a Firewire card installed for faster editing and transfer from digital cameras. You can edit uncompressed AVI movies at 720 x 480 resolution for decent quality reproduction. Nice for holidays and get togethers.

Worried about software compatibility? XP has a new and improved services just for you. Just right-click on the programs icon and check the level of compatibility you desire. I haven't had the occasion to use it, but I hear it's pretty good.

But if you're a DOS nut with lots of games or old utility programs you're gonna be a little miffed. XP has given DOS the heave Ho. You can run some DOS programs under XP, but very very few. If you really got to have that old program (I have one client who is a tax man and he needs this) you can get a copy of System Commander and partition your hard drive to boot XP and Windows 98 or a DOS session. Note that the two OS's don't even see each others drives, they are completely divorced from each other.

Home and Professional Compared
I should start off by saying that Professional has everything the Home version does with lots of corporate stuff like IP encryption and administrator stuff for large networks. Professional isn't just a look and feel Home version. It's got some serious horsepower under the hood. Some features include, 300 or so Group Policies, Roaming User Profiling, Encrypting File System, Remote Control via email and Remote Desktop. Remote Control lets a XP Pro user send you a email so that they can remotely control your PC. Don't worry the email is time sensitive and will expire in a day. The other feature, Remote Desktop is more like PC Anywhere where you can see the other persons desktop directing them with your expertise.

One thing the Professional version sports that the Home lacks is multi-processor support. Your Home version will run a computer with more than one CPU, but it can't utilize it. Even though Professional supports multi-processors systems, and even then you'll need software specifically written to run on your mutli-cpu computer.


My Summary:

So far so good. I do get the very occasional lockup or error, but no blue screens, no GPF like errors. Keep in mind, I'm a experimentalist. I'm always installing and removing software and hardware.

In my opinion it's very solid. Performance was splitting hairs. XP ran 2% faster in every department so it's no great improvement over ME, 98 or 2000. Hard drive, video, gaming, memory usage is all faster, but just by the skin of your nose. The number one thing thing to remember here kids is that it's much more stable. Much more. That's where you're gonna love it. No more reboots and system crashes. I think the Apple guys better start looking over the fence because here comes a monster truck!




Windows XP Activation Notes

The free ride is over folks. Billy wants to be the first trillionaire and that's that. Windows XP home is $99.95 and Professional is $199.95 for the upgrades. You'll need a Windows 98 or better CD when you install with the new XP OS. Borrow a copy from a friend or officemate because during the install of XP, it'll ask for your Windows 98, ME or 2000 CD.

Here is the nitty gritty on Activation and getting a legal discount for extra copies.

The only way to get a discount is if you buy more than 5 copies.

Call Microsoft henchmen at 877-426-6010. I'm told it's anywhere from 5% to 25%.

There are other programs available, but unless you buy 100 copies or more, this is the plan for you until they change it.


Windows XP Home vs. Windows XP Professional

The only cool feature for the average joe would be the built in Backup program. Other features that Professional offer are:

Better file security with NTFS partioning. When you setup XPp, it defaults to format or convert your hard drive to this formatting scheme. Microsoft says it provides better security on networks.

01.07.02 - Windows XP Home does have a Backup program. In fact, its the same one that comes installed on the Professional version. Just pop in the Windows XP CD and look for this folder ---> \VALUEADD\MSFT\NTBACKUP and double-click on NTBACKUP.



OEM Package

While building a system for a client, I see they already have it on the shelf at my local computer store... Oct 19th, 2001 6 days before its supposed to be out...


Cool Features of Windows XP Home

Virtually crash proof - Remote Control of other computers (Netmeeting had this already) - NTFS or FAT32 formatting - Cool new MediaPlayer


Hack Notes...

Yes you can bootleg Windows XP. All the computers involved need to have all the same hardware. So, if you're setting up your home office or small office, you can use Symantec's Ghost software to do a disk-to-disk clone and avoid paying Bill his $100. There are also cracks out there right now that will turn off the Activation, but be forewarned... most are viruses and Trojans. Do this at your own risk kids.

If you are legitimate (like me) and you want to install it for a friend, you can. You have to use your original CD with your original key code but it will work. After it's installed you will have to put in the new key you bought at the store. After that, it'll work just fine.


Love and kisses



Installation process: Coming soon...




I have a dedicated Tip Section for Windows XP which can be seen here...



Test System

Intel D850GB Motherboard running a 1.7GHz CPU, 128MB RDRAM (PC800), nVidea GeForce2 Ultra (64DDR), IBM 60GB ATA100 7200RPM.



2000 Pro

XP Pro

XP Home













I haven't run these tests on a Athlon XP system yet, but you can expect scores of at least 2 -5% higher.




My Upgrades
My experiences loading XP on different kinds of PCs

My Tips
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XP Reviews
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PC Pit Stops XP Readiness Test
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XP links from Microsoft
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Hardware Compatibility List
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Links to XP related commentary
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