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Something for Everybody: Hardware, Networking, Design Tools Showcased at XP Launch

Microsoft's new Windows XP desktop operating system appears to be getting quite a boost from an industry starved for new momentum.

At XP's October 25th launch in New York, Microsoft Windows Group VP Jim Allchin called hardware manufacturer's embracing of Windows XP "the fastest PC manufacturer adoption ever." Eight major PC makers all have XP-loaded machines ready for shipment. As of the October 25th launch date, "30 million PCs have already been shipped with Windows XP," said Allchin. "Virtually all PC manufacturing lines have switched over to Windows XP." This includes the major PC manufacturers, including Compaq, Dell, Gateway, HP, IBM, Sony, Toshiba and eMachines.

In addition, the two major microprocessor manufacturers – Intel Corp. and AMD -- were visible at the launch. Craig Barrett, chairman and CEO of Intel, appeared on the stage with Gates, reaffirming that Microsoft's and Intel's joint work on supporting XP "was the closest cooperation we've ever had between two teams." Barrett estimated that Intel devoted between 7,000 and 1,000 man-years designing the Pentium 4 chip that supports XP. AMD reports that it also has worked closely with Microsoft in developing its Athlon XP processor for XP-based machines.

Microsoft's Windows XP launch partners extend well beyond PC hardware manufacturers, of course. Garnering the lion’s share of attention is the digital media features that appeal to consumers and businesses interested in teleconferencing capabilities. Microsoft also announced that more than 150 companies -- including software developers, service providers, and consumer electronics – are supporting the audio and video features in Windows XP.

Corporate IT managers, however, may want to take note of a raft of announcements from other hardware and software partners. For instance, since Windows XP requires 128MB of RAM to perform smoothly, memory chipmakers are stepping in with upgrade solutions to overcome any hardware obstacles. Interestingly, competing chipmakers are teaming up with leading antivirus package producers to offer combined limited-time solutions.

Symantec Corp. is teaming up with Microsoft and PNY Technologies Inc., provider of memory upgrades, on a promotion for buyers of Windows XP Professional that includes a copy of Norton AntiVirus 2002 and a PNY 256MB PC-133 SDRAM memory module. Kingston Technology Company Inc. announced that buyers of Windows XP Professional will be eligible for a free Kingston ValueRAM 128MB memory module -- along with McAfee Internet Security Version 4.0 -- with a mail-in rebate.

Network vendors also see opportunity in the small business, departmental, and home market space that XP serves. 3Com Corp. is shipping more than 60 networking products that support XP, and the network drivers for all 60 products are embedded natively in the new operating system. D-Link, a manufacturer of network adaptor devices, has co-developed a series of plug-and-play drivers to ensure XP compatibility with its line of home networking products. Linksys made its line of Ethernet networking solutions compatible, in plug-and-play mode, with XP.

Wireless access is also a key feature supported by Windows XP. XP natively supports Wi-Fi, the wireless LAN technology promoted by the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance. At the Windows XP launch, Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates ventured out to a Starbucks Coffee cafe on Times Square and demonstrated how a Windows XP laptop can access Starbucks' new wireless networks being supported in all its stores.

Wayport Inc. announced an offer to provide Windows XP customers free high-speed Wi-Fi (802.11b) wireless Internet access at more than 400 hotels and airports across the United States until the end of January. As part of the promotion, Microsoft will station "XPerience Centers" within Wayport's Internet centers (formerly called Laptop Lane), featuring Microsoft promotional materials and trial CDs of Office XP. Agere Systems is providing the hardware to support this wireless connectivity. Agere announced the availability of its new Orinoco AP-2000 Access Point PC card, which supports Windows XP and 802.1x for wireless LAN access.

Design and collaboration tools vendors also were out in force for the launch. Adobe Systems, Inc. released a new version of Photoshop Elements software that has been certified to run on XP. Alibre, Inc.'s Alibre Design, an online mechanical design and data-sharing application, is certified to run on Windows XP. Alibre Design for XP also integrates features such as Windows Messenger and Microsoft's .NET Passport Technology. Corel Corp., which got a large influx of cash from Microsoft last year, is shipping an XP version of its CorelDraw Essentials graphics program.

Even uninterruptible power supply vendors got into the act. American Power Conversion designed a specific tab in the XP power management control panel that helps manage UPS.

About the Author

Joe McKendrick is an independent consultant and author specializing in surveys, technology research and white papers. He's a contributing writer for ENTmag.com.

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