Well, I admit it– I’m one of that (perhaps overzealously) geeky bunch who actually preordered a copy of Windows XP. And yes, I did read the reviews before I bought it; I didn’t want to waste $90 (the discounted academic price, of course ;-)) on something that I’d absolutely hate afterward, y’know.
And, well, I actually like it.
OK, before you Linux freaks shoot me, I will admit that it has certain shortcomings. Indeed, I dislike the little monopolistic nuances that show through in some parts of WinXP (most noticeably, the infamous Product Activation and those recurring prompts to register for a Passport account). But as an actual operating system, WinXP isn’t bad at all, and in many ways is well worth the price.
How so, you ask? Well, for one thing, it is a lot more stable than Win9x/ME, something to be expected since XP is based on the Windows NT kernel. That’s the thing that most reviewers laud about it– if you’re sick of Blue Screens of Death, you’d probably be quite well off upgrading. (I remember that when I used Win98, I got a BSoD simply by disconnecting my Pocket PC’s docking bay; now, I can actually move the computer away from my desk without having to restart it!) Since Friday, I’ve only had one major incident in which a program crash ended up bringing down the entire computer– and that was an old DOS-based program which tried to use a video mode my laptop’s display can’t handle.
And then there’s ClearType font smoothing. If you use a laptop display, you’re going to love this; even if you’re using a regular old CRT, it should make text quite a bit more readable. Jagged edges– who needs ’em?
There are plenty of other enhancements, including the reorganized Start menu (which actually seems quite logical in its design), the new task-based folder views (which I love), and the revamped Luna interface (which I’m pretty much ambivalent about), but they’re not really worthy of devoting an entire blog post to, and besides, they’ve been covered in numerous other reviews anyway, heh.
As for the bad aspects of WinXP? Well, you’ve all heard the deal about Product Activation by now; if you recall, I even blogged about it several months before XP was released. Don’t get me wrong; the process of activation is actually quite easy, especially if you’ve got an Internet connection– it’s just that I wonder what Microsoft will do when XP is no longer supported. There’s also the aforementioned MSN Passport integration, which I’m not all too keen about, as well as the general promotion of other services from Microsoft and its business allies throughout the operating system; thankfully, unlike activation, you can at least find ways to circumvent these if you know your way around Windows fairly well.
My rating? Eh, I’d say 8 out of 10. The stability and interface improvements are what bring it such a high rating, and I’d even go so far as to say that it’s one of the best operating systems MS has put out– but still, some parts of the interface just strengthen my concerns about Microsoft’s business practices…
Oh. And here’s a screenshot of my Windows XP desktop. (Yes, I’ve obscured both my username and my AIM list; OK, I admit it, I’m paranoid…)
And also, I found a rather minor bug, but it’s still worth noting because I’m a fontaholic and because I’ve some obsessive-compulsive tendencies: Where’s the zero in the font preview character set?