Windows XP – Time to Go for the Upgrade?

March, 2002

Unless you’ve been hibernating for the past few months, chances are you’ve been inundated by the marketing blitz for Microsoft’s new operating system known as Windows XP. From our own company’s test results, this really is the best OS Microsoft has ever released.

In essence, XP is the first desktop OS built expressly for the corporate market. It has qualities geared for business that previous versions of Windows lacked. What I really like is that it’s seemingly crash-proof — especially compared to Windows 95 and 98. It also has great memory-handling capabilities and good hardware compatibility. Thus, if you’re frequently adding new peripherals to your system, Windows XP makes it easier to figure out what the new component is and will add the new drivers so that you’re up and running in no time.

Other noteworthy features include better security and built-in remote access capabilities that allow you to connect to your XP from outside the office. Windows XP also uses so-called “ClearType” technology that makes for sharper rendering of text documents on a laptop or LCD screens. XP also has vastly improved multi-media capabilities. Those who plan to edit videos or work with digital photos will want this new OS.

A big plus from the corporate vantage point is that Windows XP was designed for easy remote management. An administrator can upgrade systems, impose group policies (i.e. restrictions to secure or protect a PC from afar) without having to visit the user’s desktop. This potentially saves your company time and money.

XP Still isn’t for Every Business 
Although XP is a good product, it’s not for every company. Many Hawaii businesses that we’re familiar with are not capable of even implementing this new technology. Here are some issues to consider:

* Licensing requirements. The licensing agreements for XP are different and more restrictive than past iterations of Windows. Registration is now a part of the installation process, and there’s little choice but to register XP at the time of installation because it soon expires. Also, XP won’t load if the license is moved or migrated to another PC. Thus, if you change out major pieces of hardware, such as the motherboard or the CPU, your computer may stop working.

* You’ll need a Passport. XP repeatedly asks for the user’s e-mail address and password to create a Passport e-commerce account. Passport is also a requirement to use other features, such as Windows Messenger.

*Other technical issues. XP lacks Java support in its browser. What this means is that some programs or Web sites you’ve used in the past may not work at all.

Who Should Upgrade? If you’ve got an aging enterprise, running Windows 95 or even Windows 98, you are a candidate for XP. If your older systems are causing more headaches that you’re willing to put up with, it’s time to consider XP. However, be forewarned that the hardware on those older boxes is not going to work with XP. You’re going to have to drop new money into new machines.

Talk to your IT director. He or she may let you know in no uncertain terms that the time has come to bite the bullet. Your director will most likely be in favor of the upgrade because of XP’s terrific advantages in network management.

For those who currently are running Windows 2000, my advice for most companies is to stick with it for one to two years based on your needs. Windows 2K may not have all the bells and whistles, but it’s a heck of a lot more stable than the older versions of the Windows OS.

Rick Marine is the founder and CEO of Century Computers, a Honolulu-based technology company specializing in end-to-end networking solutions including disaster recovery. For story suggestions or comments write to him at

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