By Jim Aspinwall
As Microsoft operating systems go, Windows XP is as dramatic a change as we've seen since Windows 95--and it comes with a heck of a lot more controversy.
Indeed, XP inherits many of Windows' prior sins--from browser integration to security vulnerabilities--and commits some new ones, such as restricted multimedia formats, limited Java support, product activation, potential privacy troubles, and a hefty price tag.
Contentious issues aside, however, XP is, by all accounts, a remarkable new OS. In XP, Microsoft dumps the clunky, unstable 95/98 code base and replaces it with the speedy, reliable Windows NT kernel. Meanwhile, XP's fresh new interface makes for prettier, cleaner, and easier-to-navigate screens and windows.
If you do decide you want Windows XP, we want you to know what you're getting into and how much of the XP hype--good and bad--is true. With that in mind, we've compiled this list of the 10 most compelling, controversial, and just plain inexplicable issues surrounding Windows XP.
10. What's new in XP?
From a built-in firewall to in-house data migration, XP has some tricks up its sleeve that could leave your software shelf bare.
9. What's missing from XP?
What won't you find in the new OS? Java, Bluetooth, or AOL, for starters.
8. What's different about XP?
You've heard about the new interface, but find out here whether your IS folks will be able to help you figure it out.
7. What's the deal with Smart Tags?
To Big Brother or not to Big Brother? The answer looks to be no in Windows XP, but we have the lowdown on the Smart Tags controversy.
6. What's a raw socket?
If Smart Tags were a big name, then raw sockets are the confusing little issue that could. See whether this security concern is legit.
5. What's up with XP's security and privacy?
Will Passport pass out your credit card information to all comers? Does an NTFS file system mean secure multiuser support? Find out here.
4. What programs can XP really run?
We have the truth about software compatibility, from DOS to Millennium Edition apps.
3. What does it take to run XP?
Is your PC ready for XP? Check out your hardware requirements.
2. What will XP cost?
There's absolutely no doubt anymore: XP will set you back. Find out by how much.
1. What's the deal with product activation?
And the No. 1 thing you need to know about Windows XP: Seriously? Only one computer?
Jim Aspinwall writes CNET's Windows Help Desk column, and is the author of IRQ, DMA & I/O (a PC configuration bible) and coauthor of Troubleshooting Your PC Bible. He is also a frequent CNET Software contributor. Got a question for him? We'll pass it on!