Microsoft Announces Windows XP

13-Feb-01 - "Whistler" becomes Windows XP and "Office 10" becomes Office XP. Microsoft hopes for big upgrade revenues, but users may resist.

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Microsoft has officially announced Windows XP, formerly coded "Whistler" and Office XP, formerly coded "Office 10". Office XP has already gone into production and will ship soon. Windows XP will not be shipping for some months yet, but a public "beta" will soon be out. The designation XP is supposed to represent eXPerience.

Windows XP is based on the same core as Windows 2000 (which means it will not run DOS software well, or at all), but brings all the consumer and entertainment features of Windows Me to that platform.

Windows XP will sport a new look and feel, code named "Luna" (official screen shots). This may look all new to Windows users, but Mac users easily identify it as an imitation of "Acqua", the new user interface for Apple's new OSX operating system.

This first version of Windows XP is aimed at the consumer market, replacing the recently released Windows Me. Business versions will follow some months behind and are not yet announced.

The hardware requirements for XP are quite stringent (minimum: Pentium III and 128-Megs of RAM) and there are apparently compatibility problems with current computers because Microsoft recommends buying a new computer with XP pre-installed.

Analysis

I have discussed "Whistler" at length in my editorial Preparing for the Next Windows. I did not discuss the new user interface because it was only a vague rumor at the time, and almost nothing is known about it yet.

One thing that does seem clear about the new interface is that it is aimed at people who are not using computers now because Windows95/98/Me is just to complicated for them. Since that could really slow down people who know Windows well, I expect there will be an option to return to the "classic" Windows Me desktop.

XP adds to the number of Windows versions in current use: Windows 3.1, Windows95/98, Windows Me, Windows NT 3.5, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows CE and Windows XP. Each has a significantly different user interface and is partially incompatible with all the others. Many companies are running at least most of them, and it's becoming quite a support headache.

The announced version of Windows XP is most certainly a home entertainment product and should not be considered for business use. Until there are business versions of XP, continue deploying Windows 2000 or stick with Windows 98/Me, or, if you don't like the ramifications of .NET, start migrating to Linux.

- Andrew Grygus

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