XP–For me?

XP–For me?

By Richard Heller

XP—For me?

If you have been into a computer store or seen TV ads for computers over the past couple of weeks, you have seen the phrase that Microsoft Windows XP is pre-installed on new computers. The latest version of Windows will reach the store shelves for retail purchase two weeks from now. The question is, should you buy it? The simple answer is probably not.

Windows XP is a complete redesign of the Windows operating system. A lot of the program is based on Windows 2000, and that is the major reason for avoiding XP.

Through a feature known as “raw sockets,” a program can connect to the Internet without your knowledge. The recent “Code Red” virus/Trojan exploited this operating system fault and that is why most home users were not affected. Windows 95/98 does not have this feature implemented, Windows 2000 does have it, and Windows XP will have it. A hacker can get access to your computer and remote control it as well as capture passwords, get your personal information, as well as change or delete files.

This last item may not appear to be too important, but what happens if you’re an accountant, and financial figures are changed or your stockholders’ presentation has racial slurs or pictures of nudity instead of the charts of earning projections? These changes can all be made without your knowledge. Worse yet, anti-virus and firewall programs may not be able to detect this activity.

Another problem with XP has to do with product security. After XP is installed, you will have to register the product, or it will cease to function. The registration is based on the hardware in your computer. If you add memory, replace your hard drive, or make other changes, you may have to re-register. Many new computers will not come with a copy of XP on a CD; it will be saved on the hard drive. If the hard drive fails, you’ll have to spend $200 to buy a new copy of XP.

XP will require 128 MB of RAM in order to function. Microsoft has stated that it would run in 64 MB, but they always give a minimum figure. You may want to consider adding additional memory and a larger hard drive. In fact, you should make all your changes to the computer hardware before you install the XP upgrade.

Many programs will have to be updated, such as utility programs including virus checkers and firewalls. There will not be a DOS mode, which was virtually eliminated in Windows ME. This can cause a problem when trying to update the computer itself, as many of these programs have to work though DOS. Hardware should work, but again, it may be necessary to update the drivers.

Microsoft is trying hard to make XP compatible with existing hardware and software, but in the past, a problem always popped up somewhere. Certain programs may not run, some publishers will offer patch files, and others will require you to buy a new version of the software.

So for now, I guess it is XP—not for me.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail technorh@mindspring.com.

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