Microsoft Windows XP Known in the market as XP, the operating system Microsoft Windows XP is basically the short term for Windows eXPerience. Windows XP was fully released to the users on 25th October 2001 by none other than Microsoft who is the producer of most extensively used operating systems, applications, and programs. It was designed to bridge the gap that exists between Windows 9x/ME and NT/2000. The upgrade of Windows XP was also available for the users of Windows 98, 2000 and ME. The primary versions of XP are XP Home Edition and XP Professional.
Windows XP enjoyed very positive reviews on its release. Critics clearly noted the improved performance and increased stability as compared to Windows Me which was the previous version designed mainly for domestic users. The intuitive user interface, expanded capabilities in terms of media, and better support for hardware made it well-liked among users and critics.
XP as a handy OS: Windows XP has a wide range of new features that are not included in the previous versions of MS Windows. XP has retained some features from the previous versions but the user will note a new interface as soon as booting the system as Windows XP has adopted a new visual look on the interface. XP has used the options of alpha compositing effects, visual styles, and drop shadows which totally change the interface of an operating system. It depends on the processing power of the host computer that how many effects can be enabled for the interface. Users can disable and enable these effects according to the requirement and the power of their processors. Windows XP also included the ClearType tool, the new system of subpixel rendering which is specifically designed to enhance the display of fonts on a liquid-crystal monitor. The latest set of system icons is also inducted into the operating system. The wallpaper that is set by default on the display of the operating system is named Bliss. Bliss is a picture of a landscape in Napa Valley, California. It is adorned with a blue sky stretched over the rolling green hills and cirrus and stratocumulus scattered on the sky.
XP presented the very first renovation in the Start menu of the Windows operating system. The start menu in XP is a layout with two columns and the ability to pin, list, and display the applications that are most frequently used on the operating system by users. It also reflects the documents and programs that were recently opened by users. The menu of “All programs” cascades as it traditionally does. The taskbar is also revamped as it can group windows that are opened by one application into a single taskbar button. A popup menu lists all the individual windows for the user to see when required. The inactive icons are also hidden by the notification area by default. A list of “common tasks” is added and an update is incorporated in the sidebar of Windows Explorer so it can use the new task-based design with a common actions list. The tasks shown are contextually associated with the sort of content that is present in a folder. For e.g, a music folder displays the option to play all files in the music folder or to burn the files to a CD. Faster switch option between users enables more users to get log on to a system with Windows XP operating system and that also without the need for existing user to close their own programs or the need for them to log out. However, the console can be used by one user at a time means at one time obviously one person can handle the mouse, keyboard, and monitor. Users can, however, resume their sessions one after another once they get the control of the console after the other user is done with his or her session.
Windows XP is bundled with Explorer 6, Messenger, Outlook Express 6, and MSN Explorer. Additional features of networking are also added including Internet Connection Firewall, NAT traversal APIs, Background Intelligent Transfer Service, network bridging, more fax features, peer to peer networking, DSL modems support, Wi-Fi connections with automatic configuration and much more. Remote desktop along with remote assistance is also available which enables users to get connected with a computer that has Windows XP in a network or on the Internet and they can also access the applications, printers, files, and devices from across the network.
- A whole new interface providing a fresh look to users along with the ability to alter the look according to their choice using the display options.
- “Updates” is another new feature that obtains updates automatically from the Internet.
- The new Internet Explorer 6 is included in XP along with the new IM.
- Many different languages are supported by the operating system.
- XP is more reliable in relation to the previous Microsoft Windows versions.
- XP is more compatible with the applications and shims as compared to previous Windows 2000.
- DirectX 8.1 in XP can be upgraded to DirectX 9.0c.
- Windows Explorer contains many fresh features such as task panes, the option of slide shows for photos and thumbnails.
- Improved features for imaging like fax viewer and Windows Picture.
- The improved Prefetch functions empower the operating system to start-up at a faster speed. The user logs on, logs off, and switches the operating system to hibernation mode more easily and smoothly. Application launch sequences are also available.
- A number of improved features are there in XP to increase the reliability of the system. These features include better System Restore, enhanced Automated System Recovery, and increased driver reliability through the Device Driver Rollback.
- Improved Hardware support including FireWire 800 and improved support of multi-monitor with the name of “DualView.
- Faster switch between users.
- The mechanism of ClearType font rendering is aimed to enhance the readability of texts on LCDs (liquid crystal display) and like monitors, particularly on laptops and tabs.
- Side by side assemblies and COM that are registration free.
- General enhancements to international support like more locales, scripts and languages, support of MUI in Terminal Services, better Input Method Editors, and support for National Language.