Get up to Speed on Windows XP

Windows XP

Story Contents


Facts & Figures

Home & Pro Differences

Behind the New Wheel

Folders & Special Folders

Looking at 'My Pictures'

Windows Media Player 8

Internet Explorer 6.0

Functional Improvements

Personal Firewall

Remote Assistance

Backup & Restore

Product Activation

Hardware and Setup

Will Your Programs Run?


Beta Conclusions

Facts and Figures

Before we get into what's new, what's different, and what's missing, we know you have questions about system requirements, pricing, and when Windows XP will be available. Because, let's face it, the features don't mean diddly if it won't run on your PC.

System Requirements
In various documents and presentations, Microsoft has projected different minimum system requirements for Windows XP. The most optimistic set of minimum system requirements they've communicated is a 233MHz Pentium or compatible processor with 64MB of RAM, and 2GB of free disk space. But take it from us, don't go there. In the real world, where the rest of us use our computers, you need at least a Pentium II class processor running at 400MHz or faster with at least 128MB of RAM and 4GB or more of free disk space. You also need an SVGA video card and monitor, a 12x or faster CD or DVD drive, and at least 56kbps Internet access. If you don't have all those things already, don't waste your money on Windows XP. Instead, save up for a new PC. Trying to cut corners will only lead to a bad experience.

Even if you meet all the system requirements, if your PC was built before January of 2000, we recommend you check with your PC maker or system board manufacturer for a flash BIOS upgrade. In particular, be sure to add any updates related to "ACPI" or power management.

Two XPs, Two Prices
In a way, we sort of lied a bit earlier in this story. Even though Windows XP will be the only version of Windows when it arrives later this year, there will be two versions of Windows XP -- the Home Edition and the Professional Edition. The Pro version is a superset of the Home version. In other words, if you shell out for the Pro version, you get every possible feature. If you buy the Home edition, you get all the features Microsoft has deemed useful to home users, and do not get a long list of features exclusive to the Pro version (more on this on the next page).

The new Start Menu is probably the single most changed user interface item in Windows XP.
Click to see larger image

The new Start Menu is probably the single most changed user interface item in Windows XP.

Microsoft hasn't set pricing yet, and probably won't announce the prices for the Home and Pro versions until shortly before it releases the product. Here's how to start figuring out what we might have to pay for Windows XP. Currently, the standard upgrade version of Microsoft's "home oriented" operating system (Windows Me) sells for about $90 on the street. The street price for the company's business-class operating system, Windows 2000 Pro, is about $185. There's a problem though. The functional differences between the two XP versions aren't large enough to command an almost $100 difference in street price. We're really not sure what Microsoft will do, so we'll take a wild guess that the Home edition will continue to be $90 and the Pro edition will sell for $150 on the street.

Microsoft's Kristian Gyorkos says that there will be an upgrade path from the Windows XP Home version to the Windows XP Pro edition. So, if you buy the Home version and later want to upgrade, you won't be stuck paying the full price for Pro. But because this is really another pricing issue, there are no other details available at this time -- including what will the upgrade price be.

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