Dancing with the Dark Side
Those of you who know me well know that my choice in Operating System is typically not Microsoft Windows. That doesn’t mean I don’t use Windows. Unfortunately, several programs I use on a regular basis require Windows. Oh sure, I can run several of them in Crossover Office, but for some reason, the latest release doesn’t entirely get along with my Gentoo box and Codeweavers can’t figure out why.
Recently, some issues have come up at work where it is useful to have Windows XP as a test machine. I decided that I’d upgrade my trusty Win2k box that I use to do those “Windows” things on to Windows XP. Furthermore, I’d load Service Pack 2 on it.
I’ve gotta give Microsoft some credit here, they put some thought into the security settings, at least on the surface. By default, the Personal Firewall included in SP2 is on. You can, of course, add your own exceptions (by programs and by port number), or turn it off entirely. Windows will let you know when something violates the firewall policy so you can either allow it or deny it as you wish.
In addition to the firewall, Windows XP detects whether or not you are running anti-virus software. Windows did not detect the fact I was running Norton Antivirus 7.6 (provided “legally” free of charge by my employer), but at least Microsoft gives you the option of no longer checking for that stuff.
There are some definate refinements to the UI: multiple windows for the same program collapse into one on the task-bar. The Start Menu looks a bit different, all kinds of visual/audio goodies, and so on.
First blush is pretty good overall. I’ve heard a number of people say that Win2k is perfectly fine and XP is just major eye candy. Microsoft has theoretically given people a reason to upgrade to Windows XP: a “more secure” OS. Of course, Linux is a more secure OS and not a lot of people are upgrading to it.