Windows XP (Home & Professional)
Note: This document has been significantly revised since it was first published as a news article in October, 2001. The original article is here.
Windows XP, released on October 25, 2001, is the latest Microsoft operating system. Windows XP is currently available in two editions -- Windows XP Home (designed as a replacement for Windows ME) and Windows XP Professional (designed as a replacement for Windows 2000 Professional).
Information Systems & Computing (ISC) will support Windows XP for its clients, including off-campus students, only on new Intel-based PCs that ship with Windows XP pre-installed. ISC strongly recommends that all other users adopt a "wait and see" attitude, continuing to use previous versions of Windows until after the initial bugs in Windows XP are identified and fixed.
When ISC does recommend an upgrade it will be for workstations with processors 350 MHz or above that have at least 256 megabytes of RAM. Please refer to ISC's Windows System Specifications to find out which versions of Windows are recommended for your Intel-based computer. The full install of Windows XP uses between 300 megabytes and 1.5 gigabytes of hard disk space, depending on the type of Intel-based PC and choices made during the install.
Microsoft's Upgrade Advisor checks your system hardware and software to see if it is ready for upgrade to Windows XP. If you run Upgrade Advisor while you are connected to the Internet, and if your system needs updates that are available on the Windows Update Web site, Upgrade Advisor will find and install the updates for you.
There are several known issues with Windows XP, a few of which will be especially relevant to Penns Windows users:
- Windows XP contains a serious flaw that allows hackers to steal or destroy a victim's data files across the Internet or implant rogue computer software. The company released a free fix on December 20, 2001. Microsoft has made a fix available on its Web site. For more detailed information, see the Universal Plug & Play Security Vulnerability page.
- Windows XP may require a BIOS upgrade or other changes to your Intel-based PC. Most PC manufacturers, including Dell and Gateway, have pages devoted to Windows XP compatibility.
- The PennConnect 2002 CD-ROM software installs and runs successfully on Windows XP.
How to get it
Microsoft is making Windows XP available at the University in four different ways:
- The upgrade version of Windows XP Professional, at $99 for the CD-ROM, is available from the Computer Connection. Microsoft lists the requirements for the upgrade here. Please note that the Windows XP Professional upgrade is not returnable once the box is open.
- The full version of Windows XP Home, at $199 for the CD-ROM, is available from the Computer Connection. Please note that Windows XP Home is not returnable once the box is open.
- The full version of Windows XP Professional, at $299 for the CD-ROM, is available from the Computer Connection. Please note that Windows XP Professional is not returnable once the box is open.
- Microsoft software is now available to University of Pennsylvania departments through the Microsoft Select Program, a volume license agreement that replaced the Microsoft Open License Program ("MOLP") at Penn. A detailed description of the Microsoft Program including product information and a FAQ has been prepared by the Office of Software Licensing. As with the MOLP program, all purchases of Microsoft Select software are made through the Computer Connection.
What's new in Windows XP
Windows XP has many new features, of which the more significant are:
(included in both Windows XP Home & Windows XP Professional)
(included in Windows XP Professional only)
- Significantly Modified User Interface. While maintaining the core of Windows 2000, Windows XP has a modified visual design, code-named 'Luna'. Common tasks have been consolidated and simplified, and new visual cues have been added. Administrators or end users can choose either this updated user interface or a modified version of the Windows 2000 Professional interface.
- Enhanced support for IrDA, IEEE 1394 (often known as iLink or FireWire), and other digital devices such as DVD and Device Bay. Windows XP also includes full support for Advanced Configuration and Power Interface [ACPI].
- Automatic Updates. With the user's permission, Windows XP automatically downloads critical and security updates in the background when the user is connected to the Internet. These downloads are designed to minimize the impact on Internet browsing, and the update automatically resumes upon reconnection if the computer is disconnected before the download is complete. Once the update has been downloaded, the user can choose to install it.
- Enhanced Device Driver Verifier. Built on the device driver verifier found in Windows 2000 Professional, the Windows XP device driver verifier provides even greater stress tests for device drivers.
- Windows Media Player 8.0 for Windows XP. Windows Media Player for Windows XP provides features such as: DVD playback, native CD-R burning, and the ability to export video to portable devices. Also included are new video controls, offline metadata support (for enhanced DVD viewing), and a more streamlined user interface.
- New Display Technologies. DualView allows two monitors to host the Windows desktop while being driven off of a single display adapter. In the case of laptop computers this could be the internal LCD display as well as an external monitor. For desktops there are a variety of high-end display adapters that will support this functionality. ClearType, a text display technology that gives you enhanced screen resolution, making it easier for you to read text on your LCD computer screen.
- Remote Desktop allows you to remotely access your Windows XP Professional workstation from another Windows workstation, allowing you to work on your data and applications while away from your office.
- Remote Assistance enables a user to share control of his or her computer with someone on a network or the Internet. An administrator can view the user's screen, and control the pointer and keyboard to help solve a technical problem. IT departments can build custom solutions, on top of published APIs using HTML, to tailor Remote Assistance to their needs, and the feature can be centrally enabled or disabled.
- Encrypting File System (EFS) encrypts each file with a randomly generated key. The encryption and decryption processes are transparent to the user. In Windows XP Professional, EFS can provide multiple users access to an encrypted document.
For further information
Microsoft's Windows XP page.
-- John Mulhern III, IT Project Leader, ISC Technology Support Services (October 25, 2001)