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Column: Don't Lose Sleep Over Windows XP

As an IT manager, you’re pretty busy. That’s why I suspect any curiosity you have about Windows XP boils down to this: Is this a business upgrade that I’m going to have to deploy or what?

The short answer: It’s not looking that way yet.

Now for the long answer.

First, a quick definition: Windows XP is the long-awaited Rosetta stone of the Microsoft operating environments. It combines the buggy, consumer-oriented Windows 9x and the more solid business-oriented Windows NT code bases.

Redmond will continue to segment customers and prices by selling a Windows XP Professional edition and a Windows XP Personal edition. The Windows XP name replaces the former code name “Whistler.” The next version of Windows 2000 Server was named "Windows 2002" on Monday.

At the same time, Microsoft is overhauling the interface. The company’s Web site states that Windows XP “will be the most significant update to the Windows interface since Windows 95.”

It’s more graphical, colorful, and picture-intensive. XP stands for experience. Take a look at the pretty user icons, like a picture of a flower, and that tells you this stuff is primarily aimed at consumers. If you’ve spent any time with the new MSN, the Windows XP interface will look familiar.

The problems Windows XP solves are primarily aimed at consumer users.

One of the most important new features, judging by Microsoft’s emphasis, is a more intuitive interface and experience for people who have never used a computer. A pure consumer play.

The bringing of increased stability to the Windows 9x kernel is, again, primarily consumer. If you’ve got a large installed base of Windows 9x clients that aren’t upgrading to Windows 2000 Professional, then this is something to consider for your enterprise.

Multiple log ins with persistent sessions enable one user to log out for another user to log in. Then, when the first user logs back on, all her applications remain open and she returns to exactly what she was doing. This is one of the nicest new feature for home users, but its use in a business context seems pretty limited.

Remote control of the desktop demos suggest that a computer-savvy, remote family member can take control of grandma’s computer, with her permission, and fix whatever problem is keeping her from downloading the picture of the grandchild. Wonderful for the family, but clearly a security nightmare?

We all know Microsoft’s security philosophy: add features then fix the security holes after they’re exploited. For many reasons, I believe it is the right approach for Microsoft, but that doesn’t mean you need to be Redmond’s guinea pig. Leave this one to the home users, and let bleeding edge enterprises discover the bugs on this one.

For now, don’t lose any sleep over whether you should be planning for a Windows XP rollouts. So far, this one looks like a pass for business clients. - Scott Bekker is editor in chief of ENT. Contact him at sbekker@entmag.com

More Articles in ENT’s Special Report on Windows 2002 Beta 2:
Microsoft Renames Whistler 'Windows 2002'
Windows 2002 Takes Shape With Beta 2
IIS Architecture Overhauled for Reliability in 6.0
Microsoft Looking to Shift Its Server Mix With Windows 2002
Beta 2 Distribution on a Much Bigger Scale Than Beta 1
ENT's Coverage of Microsoft's Beta 1 Release of Whistler

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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