Introduction to Windows XP

History of Windows

Microsoft sold the first PC operating system to IBM in 1981. It was called DOS and it had no user interface (working in command line). First version of Windows shipped in 1985, and it was called Windows 1.0. It was very slow and unstable. Breathtaking Windows 2.0 shipped in late 1987. It let you overlap windows (place one windows on top of another). Windows 2.1 (also known as Windows 286) shipped in 1988. It came on a single diskette. Windows 3.0 arrived in 1990, and the computer industry changed forever. Windows 3.1 arrived in 1992, and it rapidly became the most widely used operating system.

Windows 3.x was built on MS-DOS, and that caused all sorts of headaches. DOS simply wasn’t stable enough to make Windows solid operating system. They knew all that in Microsoft, so in 1988 they decided to build a new version of Windows from scratch. In 1993 Windows NT (New Technology) 3.1 was shipped, but it was also unstable. Because of bad reactions to NT edition Microsoft decided to further develop Windows based on DOS/Windows 3.1, and on the other side to work on NT versions of Windows.

Versions of Windows based on DOS are:

  • 95, shipped in 1995
  • 98, shipped in 1998
  • ME, shipped in 2000

NT editions:

  • NT 3.5, shipped in 1994
  • NT 4.0, shipped in 1996
  • 2000, shipped in 2000

Microsoft patiently waited while sales on the NT side gradually picked up. When that happened, Microsoft shipped XP (XP stands for eXPerience). XP is 100% based on NT. Microsoft took a lot of effort to make XP look like Windows ME, but beneath the facade, XP is based on Windows NT/2000.

About Windows XP

XP is an operating system developed by Microsoft and it was released in 2001. It is build on NT kernel, which is known for its improved stability and efficiency over the 9x versions of Microsoft Windows.

Windows XP comes in 6 editions:

  • Home (for home users)
  • Professional (for power and business users)
  • Media Center (additional multimedia features)
  • Tablet PC (designed to run stylus applications)
  • 64-Bit (designed to run on Intel Itanium processors)
  • Professional x64 (supports the x86-64 extensions of Intel IA-32 architecture)

XP has a significantly redesigned graphical user interface which is now more user friendly. It is the first version of Windows which uses product activation to fight illegal copying. XP is available in many languages, and in addition to that, Language Interface Packs translating the user interface are also available in certain languages.

New Features

Among other things, Windows XP introduced:

  • Faster start-up and hibernation sequences, fast user switching
  • Enhanced device driver verification (driver signing), ability to discard newer device driver in favor of the previous one (driver rollback)
  • Code enhancements (better protection for code, less likely-hood that somebody can come in and tamper with key system files), and Windows File Protection which, together with file signings, discovers modified system files
  • Encrypted File System (EFS) which enables us to encrypt files on our hard drive
  • IP Security (IPSec) enables us to encrypt data sent over computer networks
  • Clear type font rendering mechanism (improved readability on LCD monitors)
  • Built in support for CD-RW
  • Hot docking support (great for Laptop users who use Docking stations)
  • Remote Desktop support which enables us to control other computer over network using RDP protocol
  • Remote Assistance support
  • Enhanced Wireless network communication software (in tune with wireless standards)
  • Windows Messaging services
  • Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) which enables us to share one Internet connection with multiple computers
  • Embedded firewall (Internet Connection Firewall – ICF) which enables us to protect our Local Area Network
  • Improved deployment tools for Windows XP itself, and also for software packages.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? But the truth is that XP has been strongly criticized for its vulnerability to malware, viruses, trojan horses, and worms. Windows, with its large market share, has always been a tempting target for virus creators. Security holes are often invisible until they are exploited, making preemptive action difficult. Microsoft recommends that all systems have automatic updates turned on to prevent a system from being attacked by an unpatched bug.

System Requirements

Recommended system requirements for running Windows XP:

    • Processor: 300MHz or higher
    • Memory: 128MB RAM or higher
    • Hard drive disk free space: 1.5 GB or higher (additional 1.8 GB for Service Pack 2 and additional 900MB for Service Pack 3)

Remember

XP is based on NT. Two most important XP editions are Home and Professional. System requirements are: CPU 300MHz or higher, RAM 128MB RAM or higher.

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