Facts & Figures
Home & Pro Differences
Behind the New Wheel
Folders & Special Folders
Looking at 'My Pictures'
Windows Media Player 8
Internet Explorer 6.0
Backup & Restore
Hardware and Setup
Will Your Programs Run?
Windows XP has a long list of under-the-hood and barely visible improvements that should put a smile on the face of any Windows 2000 user. For example, the product has native support for CD-R/W drives. It offers integrated WiFi (802.11b) wireless networking support, a new Personal Firewall feature, native 1394/Firewire support, and all of the digital media and PC Health features from Windows Me. There's even a new Remote Assistance tool that lets you remotely access and control the PC of the next family member who has a tech support crisis (so long as both of you are running XP). There are literally hundreds of functional improvements over Windows 2000 and Windows Me, far too many to even mention in this story. Microsoft has been working hard on this ever since Windows 2000 shipped.
Multiple-User Logon Features
As the system administrator, the User Accounts applet in Control Panel lets you set each user's configuration. You can set up new accounts there (any you didn't setup during installation) as well as edit existing accounts. The Change section of the User Accounts window lets administrators modify the name and password for each user, and also set the user's account type. The three types are Administrator, Standard, and Limited, with a progressively limited set of capabilities for each. If you create an account named Guest, during installation, XP will automatically assign it the Limit set of capabilities.
XP supplies a variety of graphics for use as a user picture, and these can be changed readily through the User Accounts applet in Control Panel. Or you can simply take your own digital photographs of each user and place them there instead.
While multiple-user-logon can be used in corporate settings, the feature is sure to be a hit in family settings and small businesses where it's a lot more common for more than one person to use a PC.
Built-in Wireless Networking Support
Windows XP adds two things that improve the WiFi experience. First it has a built-in plug-and-play driver for wireless adapters that even self configures the basic settings needed to make your connection work. (For those who have experience with WiFi: XP can pluck the "SSID" number your wireless access point is using right out of the air.) Because WiFi's biggest drawback is security, Windows XP introduces a rapid, automatic key-changing feature designed for corporate environments that effectively raises security levels to block out casual intrusion. New versions of WiFi in the works will eventually raise the security bar for everyone.