XP Can Be Great
Jun 17, 2003 (Updated Jun 17, 2003)
a Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Stable most of the time, Multimedia, Looks cool
Cons:Bad drivers can cause problems, activation sucks, weak setup guide, slow WiFi
The Bottom Line: If you have the ability to download drivers and have a decent computer XP may be for you.
I had a computer running Windows 98SE and I decided to upgrade it to XP Home and I will tell about my experience below as well as talk about how it has been on two machines with OEM (pre-installed) versions of XP Home on them.
Recommend this product?
My recommended minimums for XP are:
Processor: 500 Mhz.
256 MB RAM
10 GB Hard drive
The specs of the upgrade computer are:
Pentium III 600 Mhz.
256 MB Ram
20GB Hard drive
The other two are:
Pentium 4 1.7 Ghz.
512 MB Ram
80GB Hard drive
Pentium 4 3.06 Ghz.
1024 MB Ram
120 GB. Hard drive
I remember the day well, we had finally talked Computer Support Plus (GE) into letting us finally have the replacement hard drive that was causing my computer to crash and freeze. I then decided after my old disk was whipped away from my run and off into the service guys truck and a new one was installed that it would be as good a time as ever to proceed with an XP upgrade.
I went to my local Office Depot and picked up the Windows XP Home Edition Upgrade box for $99.00 (Windows 98SE had to be reinstalled first).
Do I need XP Pro or is Home okay for me?
(These are not Microsoft's questions)
Do you want to use more then two multiple user accounts?
If you said yes, you probably want XP Pro as Home only allows two administrator accounts and limited user accounts. Limited user accounts are useless however for everyday use, unless Internet Explorer is the only program you ever use. XP Pro adds the Power User setting which is a decent middle ground.
Do you need to hook up to a NT domain?
If yes, you need Pro.
Do you have two processors?
If yes, you need Pro.
Microsoft will tell you that XP Pro is better in the case of system failure, however, I don't know how. While XP Pro supports Remote Desktop (think that GotomyPC ad you see all the time in popups) you can download VNC (open source :=) for free. VNC, by the way, may work better, according to what I have heard.
Back to the upgrade.
I take the box home and fight to get it out of the package (anti-theft/piracy feature #1, I am keeping count). After you get it out you open the folder and find a shiny hologram (#2) disk. You also see a small "Start Here" guide to installing XP. When you read this guide it is suggested that you do an "upgrade" rather then a full install. DO LISTEN TO IT! In my opinion a full install is the way to go. The upgrade disk *can* do a full install as long as one of the operating systems on the side of the box is present to begin with. Note: Backup your data first!
Now at this time you should run the upgrade advisor to find troubled hardware and software. I recommend you search for drivers for these devices now! First check the manufactures websites and then Google. You should also remove all hardware from your machine before starting and add it back once in XP one device at a time.
After you click FULL INSTALL the disk asks you for the CD code (#3) a 25 digit code. I hate these codes with a passion because when I was reinstalling Windows 98 on another machine I had lost the code and had to do a Google Groups search to get it back. After you do the full install you set a few install options and are ready to go. (I currently run a dual boot Windows 98SE / Windows XP system and it was difficult to figure out how to do this from here). After a while installing stuff the computer will ask to reboot.
Once you reboot the system will say "Apectec Boot From CD" don't do it or you won't be able to install if you are using an upgrade CD. Once the system enters the install process you have a choice to format the hard drive and what to format it to. I recommend you format your hard drive. The big question then is FAT32 or NTFS.
Should I pick FAT32 or NTFS?
Do you want to install any other operating system on your system?
If yes, pick FAT32, Linux and older versions of Windows work better with it.
Do you work with huge multi GB files?
If yes, pick NTFS.
If you are unsure I'd go with NTFS if you have a new computer and if you are upgrading and older machine go with FAT32.
The system will now continue to install XP. You will see a few questions about clocks and time zones, answer these appropriately. Then once you finish installing you will first be asked if you are ready to activate Windows XP (#4). Windows XP activation means that the Operating System can only be installed on one computer. Once you activate the CD-Key number it can't be activated again. However, if you reinstall XP on the same computer you should be able to activate again with the same number. I have noticed this to work. If you don't activate on this screen you have thirty days still to do it, for example if you have networking hardware you still need to install. If your machine comes with XP you shouldn't need to activate.
Now you get your first look at XP. You'll notice that XP starts with ONE icon on the desktop (OEM versions this will not be the case). You may do what I did and take this to heart and to work as hard as possible to eliminate these icons or decide to stuff it up with icons, your choice.
Now it's time to install your networking hardware if you have any because now is the time you want to get online.
You need to go to Windows Update. Visit this site right now, even if you are running Windows 98, 98SE, NT 4.0 or 2000. This site has all the patches you need to secure your system.
After updates are installed it is time to install your hardware. Make sure you have device drivers first though. You'll notice that some devices XP simply installs for you and your done. (While most of the time this is great, sometimes the automatic drivers get in the way of what you want to install.) If it doesn't work automatically most hardware will still install okay (if you have the drivers) however sometimes you get messages about "driver signing" this is a program Microsoft has started where drivers must be submitted to them for testing and for a fee. If I driver isn't digitally signed you can still install it. Actully most drivers that have caused me problems have been certified drivers for my video card and sound card, go figure. It is also important that before every piece of hardware you install you create a system resotre point. System Restore is an XP feature that backs up your system settings in case of a major problem. This is one of the great features of XP. The only thing that has ever caused me major problems on XP has been bad drivers unlike 98SE where bad drivers and software could bring the system down.
XP also has great multimedia features where previews of your pictures will be shown and information about music tracks is displayed. If you have either a digital camera or a large MP3/WMA collection these are great.
XP also ships with a great video playback tool Windows Media Player. The only short coming of Media Player is its lacking of MP3 recording capability. I recommend CDex as a program of choice for another way to encode. Media Player, however, has great video playback features and is very fun to work with.
XP also ships with a (as I have heard) usless firewall. I recommend Zone Alarm as a great way to keep hackers out.
XP's only major shortcoming for me was its slow WiFi speed. My Wifi speed sees about a 33% drop when running in XP rather then 98SE. I also dislike all of the services enable by default but only experienced users should mess with that.
Thanks for working through that long review.
If you want more ranting visit my unfinished website at
"All We Are Saying is Give Peace a Chance"
- John Lennon
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