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Windows XP: A Polished XPerience

Microsoft Finally Gets It Right By Charlie White
First Look: Windows XP ProfessionalWindows XP now ventures out into the world, and weve been running it through its paces here at Digital Media Nets Midwest Test Facility. Weve been following XPs development since its first Betas, and now that we have our hands on the shipping code, weve gone all-out to see if its something that would be helpful to digital content creators. We installed it on three desktop machines and a notebook, then edited video with it, and put it through every trial and tribulation we could muster. Whats our verdict? We love it, with a few reservations.

When I last wrote about XP, it was in Beta 1 trim, and I wasnt impressed. It seemed sluggish. Well, heres the first good news we have to report: Its not sluggish any more! Its significantly faster. In fact, according to my tests using the Content Creation Winstone 2001 benchmark, youll definitely see a speed improvement over Windows 2000. I used Content Creation Winstone 2001 because it measures real-world performance, using Adobe Premiere (although its version 5.1), Photoshop 5.5 and Dreamweaver 3. On an Athlon 1.2MHz PC with a GeForce 2 video card, with Windows 2000 there was a result of 52, but when I loaded Windows XP Professional on the same machine, it scored a 57.9, an 11% improvement. There was also a speed-up with business applications like Word, Powerpoint and Excel, as evidenced by a Business Winstone result of 40.5 with Windows 2000 compared to a score of 43.2 for Windows XP, a 6% improvement. That erases my main complaint about the early Betas of Windows XP -- performance issues.

Windows XP Start MenuWhats more remarkable about these scores is that Windows XP contains one extra feature in particular thats well-known for its performance-sucking characteristics -- System Restore. First introduced in Windows ME, System Restore allows you to revert to a system state of your machine from days, or even weeks before. Like a time machine, it was simply remarkable the way I could skip around through the days Id had it loaded, and then I could just bring the system back to the way I have it set up today. It churns around for about fifteen minutes each time you want to restore a previous configuration, but anything you do can be undone without losing any data that youve entered, and its completely and accurately faithful to the settings you had. I can think of lots of times I could have used this feature in the past, but wasnt ever willing to take the performance hit. Now, Ive decided I cant live without it.

The irony here is that even though you have the ability to restore your system, you probably wont need to. The underpinnings of Windows XP are rock-solid. Its uncanny how stable this operating system is. No matter what I did, I wasnt able to crash the system. Sure, errant applications sometimes reared their ugly heads, but they were easy to dismiss with a quick trip to the Task Manager. But as far as blue screens, errors or lockups, they just didnt happen. At all. Wow. Even when Windows XP would warn me that Im about to install something that wont work with XP, like previous Intellimouse drivers (which worked anyway), it didnt crash. Not once.

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Related Keywords:Digital Video Editing, Digital Media Net, Charlie White, Windows XP, First Look, Windows 2000, Canopus DVRaptor RT, review

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