Some observations on what we know about Windows XP so far. (Poor Microsoft, they finally get their OS to a decent level of stability, then they do everything in their power to make it unusable. IBM have been here.)


Let's be fair. If it is going to be based on the W2K kernel, then it'll be a damn sight more stable than Microsoft's current consumer OSes. Another benefit is that it has good Plug 'n' Play support. Apparently it runs as fast as, or faster than, Windows 98 or ME on low-end machines. (Not exactly a great achievement, but surprising considering Microsoft's traditional "screw them, and buy some more shares in Intel" approach.)


Pseudo task-based UI : XP sports a new user interface that makes a half-hearted attempt at appearing task-centric (as opposed to application-centric). Most of this development effort seems to have gone into making the UI look more like Apple's shiny new Aqua UI. The other great influence is of course AOL, with the new UI being about as patronising as humanly possible. The new interface has met with almost universal derision among testers, with it being dubbed "Windows for Retards" among other things. Furthermore, although the UI is skinnable, the theme format is closed. Microsoft don't want just anybody writing skins for their OS. Entirely defeating the object of trying to make the UI more aesthetically pleasing in the first place. Idiots.

Digital Rights Management : Or to be more accurate, User Rights Denial. Microsoft shamelessly whore themselves to the music industry by incorporating unworkable and invasive "security" features that dictate what you can store on your own computer. This ethically bankrupt strategy is rumoured to go so far as vetting what you can burn onto CD, and inserting static into "unapproved" sound files.

So, an OS that's purposely designed to fuck you over. Joy.

There are some flaws in this diabolical scheme though, naturally. Firstly, it at least partially hinges on people adopting Microsoft's inferior Windows Media formats (which is never going to happen, with MP3, DivX, Quicktime, et al running rings around them). And second, their solution requires the cooperation of so many parties that there will always be weaknesses. It's a joke, really, and one of the issues that might kill (or at least damage) the increasingly flaky and complacent Microsoft.

Bundle this : Of course, Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player (and God knows what else) are now required components. Hey, I thought there was some kind of court case about this shit? Silly me. Hopefully those great guys at 98Lite will find a way to hack them out again, but I guess by the time XP comes out, the resource hit of these redundant components won't seem so severe.

Update : A Pretty Fucking Big 'Con'

Apparently the media player bundled with XP will only be able to record (and play?) MP3 files at 56kps, in an effort to force people to use WMA. Just in case anyone hadn't picked up on the "screwing the consumer" theme yet. To make matters worse, as predicted, third-party audio software (and CD recording software) is "not optimised" to run under XP: translation, they have sabotaged anything that could bypass their Secure Music Path bullshit.

Obviously, this development has closed the issue of whether I will allow XP near my computer. It also means that my opinion of Microsoft is at an all-time low. Hopefully the combined effects of the worldwide xbox failure, their now IBM-surpassing complacency and arrogance and the European and Japanese antitrust suits should be enough to wipe them out. Fingers crossed.

(It might be possible to switch off all the crap mentioned above, in which case WinXP might be worth using - but not buying, obviously - for the performance tweaks. Might. But that's a big gamble, and Win2K showed how MS now try to force things to be installed by claiming they are system components. I'll pass, thanks all the same.)

(nmx informs me it won't even encode MP3's any more. Nene informs me that it requires an addon, but there is no longer a bitrate limitation. Error404 sez they're bundling Windows Messanger to kill off ICQ - nice try guys.)

And I haven't even started on WPA yet.

And did I mention it's significantly slower and more resource hungry than Windows 2000? Yeah, kind of goes without saying really...

Also, you really don't want to try to run networked games on it. It's a world of pain. There really is no reason, if you have to use a Windows OS, to pick XP over 2000 Professional.

my guilty secret: I actually quite like some of the new UI, particularly the emphasis on everything being 32-bit colour and still being pixel-perfect. It's a pain trying to actually do any work with it, but it looks nice.

Further, furthermore, I am sick to the teeth of people saying "Oh, Product Activation isn't that bad..." in their writeups below. Ooh, thanks Microsoft for being so lenient when trying to dictate what I can do with the product I've bought! (OK, I haven't bought personally, but you see what I mean.) Servile fucking sheep...