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Fred's Views


Windows XP Revisted Yet Again

You all must know that I love to complain about Microsoft's shortcomings - and lord knows they can keep me busy. Still, when Microsoft does something right, I want to give them due credit as well. So, I might even do that in this column. Stay tuned.

I have reiterated my greviances concerning Windows XP in my previous columns (Place links here). To wit: I am unhappy with the cost of updates, I dislike Microsoft's anti-piracy methods (because they do nothing to alleviate the real cause: people don't feel they are getting reasonable value for their money - and usually they're not.) I'm not fond of the "face-lift" Microsoft gave Windows XP, and I'm very upset that the home edition of Windows XP doesn't come with a web server and, in fact, apparently will not run a webserver. [To be honest, I don't know if it will run the server that comes with the Professional version.] Worse, Microsoft wasted millions of dollars promoting XP on TV and in print, but never bothered to mention the lack of a webserver. (Granted only a relatively few of us need a webserver, but that's beside the point.)

So, it may come as a bit of a shock when I say that XP, despite all of my complaints, MAY be the best software value available in quite some time. Perhaps I should complain less about the cost of XP and complain more about how I and millions of other users have been fleeced and tricked into buying what were really only flawed beta versions of an operating system. It's still too early for me to make a positive statement, but this one may be worth every cent Microsoft is asking. (As we all know, none of the previous versions of Windows - excluding 2000 - were worth paying for.)

Windows XP is installed on my desktop computer. It's the most powerful computer in our house, but aside from providing dial-up Internet service to all of the other networked computers, it's not often asked to do a lot, so I still don't have a lot of experience with XP. (In contrast, my notebook is used all the time, but it barely has the speed to run XP and almost certainly doesn't have enough hard drive space. Besides, on my notebook, I have to have a webserver to run my ASP scripts.)

Last weekend, I installed quite a bit of new software on Tiger (that's the desktop running XP). [It's called Tiger because it's what's left of a computer kit built for Tiger Direct but sold to me through either Inmac or the other Canadian catalog mail-order firm whose name escapes me. In any case, the're part of MicroWarehouse now. The only "original" part left after four years is the floppy drive, but I still call it "Tiger".] I installed Norton Anti-Virus, QuickTax and Quicken Basic, which I haven't used, Trivial Pursuit, Millenium edition, Dig Dug Deeper, Lode Runner II, Clue and maybe other software. None of them are power-crazy 3-D Graphic hogs, but all of them are playable. So far, I've had no problems of any kind with any program running on Tiger, knock on wood.

I installed (or attempted to install) Dig Dug Deeper on Tiger before the XP upgrade. It wouldn't install. I did install it on my notebook and it ran, but the graphics were unreliable. (I uninstalled it.) Now it runs perfectly, so far. I have owned a copy of Clue for three or four years, but, until this past week-end I have never been able to complete a game. It has been installed (and uninstalled) on just about every computer we have that will suport it. It has always bombed during a game. Either a computer player will not take its turn or will not end its turn - and what can you do? - or my player unexplainably ends up outside the playing area and there is no way to move it. Last weekend I managed to complete three games without a problem. (Actually, at one point I thought there was a problem: a computer player took a long time to end its turn, but it finally did.) We have two copies, the second coming from a cereal box. That's the one I installed.

There is one aspect of XP that takes a little getting used to. When Trivial Pursuit, Lode Runner II or Clue are running and the dial-up connection starts up, the game screen minimizes and the desktop with the dial-up window is revealed. Simply clicking on the game window on the task bar restores the game. I'm not sure how many programs this applies to, and it is somewhat disconcerting, but I can live with it.

Everything seems to run faster under XP. (It did seem to slow down a little after the virus program was installed.) At this point, my main - almost only - criticism of XP as installed and set up on Tiger is the lack of a webserver. Since most of you probably don't need a webserver, this is about as close as I'm going to come (at least until I've used it more) to a ringing endorsement.

I still think Microsoft owes us for all of the bad software it has crammed down our throats, but this one may well be a winner (once you've tweaked it).

Copyright © 2002 by Fred Oldfield. All rights reserved.


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