Windows XP (originally code-named Whistler) is the latest desktop version of the Windows operating system from the Microsoft Corporation. It was made publicly available on October 25, 2001. Microsoft initially released two versions: Home and Professional. Home is targeted at home users, while Professional has additional features designed for businesses such as network authentication and dual-processor support. The letters "XP" originate from the word Experience.
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2 Legal Action
4 Special Versions
5 External links
Before XP, Microsoft produced two separate lines of operating systems. One line, represented by Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows Me was designed for home desktop computers, while the other line, represented by Windows NT and Windows 2000, was aimed at the corporate and professional market, and also included special server versions. Windows XP is Microsoft's attempt to offer a single operating system for all purposes, at the cost of finally deciding to remove support for DOS-based programs from the new operating system.
Windows XP is based on the Windows 2000 code with a newly developed Graphical User Interface (called Luna), which includes slightly redesigned features, some of which appear to have been inspired by modern Linux desktop environments such as KDE. The graphical login screen with user images is one example. In addition, Windows XP ushered in Microsoft's new "task-based" UI featuring sidebars with access to task-specific functions; marking a shift from the desktop-metaphor used in Mac OS X and most distributions of Linux. However, critics argue that the task-based design only adds visual clutter; as it offers no new functionality over simpler toolbars commonly found in operating systems using the desktop metaphors. The additional processing overhead is substantial. Some say that this task-based GUI isn't really that big a change.
It includes a simplified set of the user security features of Windows 2000 and an integrated firewall which was part of a major new effort to secure Microsoft products following a very long history of security issues and vulnerabilities.
Legal action is being considered against Microsoft for one of the features in its task-based GUI: its "Buy Music Online" feature. In the anti-trust lawsuits against Microsoft, Microsoft wasn't punished, but rather a committee was created to watch Microsoft to make sure they don't use any uncompetitive actions against Netscape and other web browsers. Uncompetitive actions defined in the lawsuit included anything making it so that users couldn't completely switch their default browsers. But the "Buy Music Online" feature always uses the browser Internet Explorer. Furthermore, although this wasn't counted as a potential anticompetitive practice in the first lawsuit, the link brings the user to the MSN branch of Buy.com, instead of bringing the user to a third-party website.
XP has come under intense criticism and scrutiny due to the integration of many user applications for which there has traditionally been a thriving third-party market, such as firewalls, media players (Windows Media Player), instant messengers (Windows Messenger), as well as its close tying to the Microsoft Passport network service, which is seen by many computer experts as a security risk and a potential threat to privacy. These features are also widely believed to be a continuance of Microsoft's traditional anticompetitive behavior. However, it should be noted that Microsoft -- in earlier versions of Windows -- had integrated tools that had large third-party markets like disk defragmenters, graphical file managers and TCP/IP stacks with little protest that they were being anticompetitive. Microsoft believed that these tools had moved from special to general usage and merited inclusion as features in the general operating system for a PC.
Microsoft has complied with rulings with relation to its Internet Explorer browser software and other bundled software, in releasing a service pack that allows icons and other links to the bundled software to be removed. However the actual software is not actually removed, merely the appearance of the icons or the links. Microsoft maintain that key Windows functionality is tied to these bundled software (for example, the HTML-decorated Help system), however some respond that this is untruthful (a third-party version of Windows has been created that does not have this bundled software), or that this does not warrant the entire browser or the full software to be present.
It has also been sharply criticized for its product activation scheme. This takes an audit of certain components on the host computer, creating a unique reference number that is logged by Microsoft before the software can be used permanently (it comes with a 30 day activation period). Installing the software on another computer, or changing a certain number of hardware components such as the network card, may generate a different number that does not match the one stored by Microsoft, thus preventing a new license being issued, and disabling the software.
Microsoft introduced this scheme in order to curb piracy, and what Microsoft terms "casual copying", where a purchaser of a product gives a friend a copy of the CD or where the purchaser installs the software on all computers that this person may own - which may be against the EULA; Microsoft has released special discount licensing programs for these kind of actions. However some people dislike this scheme as being overly prohibitive and inflexible.