The Windows XP Operating System
By Joshua Erdman
Windows XP is by far the superior Microsoft operating system to date. It is more flexible and stable then Windows 95/98/ME and more user friendly than Windows 2000 and NT 4.0.
Windows XP comes with a whole new set of commandline utilities and so many tools for remote access, system security, and system functionality. With just a copy of XP Home you can set up multiple users with a very simple log-on screen, each with their own customizable desktop. With the built-in capability of Fast User Switching a user can leave their desktop and all applications open while another user can then use the computer with their settings.
With Remote Desktop, you can access your home computer from the office to check your home e-mail, look at your accounting balances on your accounting software, or e-mail that file to your office that you were working on the night before.
System Restore Points
XP also comes with a utility called System Restore. This tool will keep track of your computer system settings and configurations at various points in time. If a program ever gets installed that messes up your system you can just use the System Restore and roll back to a Restore Point where your system was working properly.
Fast User Switching
This capability allows multiple users to be logged on at the same time. Keep in mind that this does not allow multiple users to use the computer at the same time. With fast user switching, you can be in the middle of a project and can 'switch user' so that someone else can log in to let's say check their e-mail without you having to save all your work.
Internet Connection Sharing
XP (also available with 2K and Me) have a feature called Internet connection Sharing. This allows the Internet connection on one computer to be shared to all other PCs. Read the article.
Service Pack 2 Features
Everyone is talking about the automatically enabled Internet Firewall. For corporations and enterprises this feature can be a headache, there are lot's of utilities that us administrator's need access to and we have to set up the firewall to not block those. But there is so much more to SP2 than an enhanced firewall.
Antipopups and spyware
For small networks and home users, SP2 is a godsend. It sets up way better security to block the installation of spyware and malware, you get protection against viruses, enhanced wireless network management, and of course more stability.
More specifically about the wireless management. In SP1 and earlier, you either set your wireless card's firewall to on or off no matter which wireless network you connected to. For me, I was always turning it on at the wireless internet cafes and I would have to turn it off at the office. With SP2, you can customize the firewall for each wireless network. That also includes specific firewall configurations such as ports to open and IP addresses to trust.
I happen to be very happy with Windows XP SP2 and have made plans to roll it out to my client's networks using GPO.
Article last reviewed: 12/30/2005