Cool New Features in Windows XP

10 reasons to upgrade as soon as possible

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard that Microsoft's follow-up to Windows 2000 Professional is Windows XP Professional Edition. In XP Pro, Microsoft has extended Win2K's code base to provide improved compatibility with Windows products. In this Top 10, I show you the 10 coolest new features in XP Pro.

10. The Luna UI—In XP, Microsoft continues its unabashed Macintosh copycatting. The new Luna interface uses a feature called WebViews to display a task-oriented UI. Although the XP UI looks a bit different from Win2K's UI, the new interface is similar enough so that your retraining costs should be minimal. It you don't like the Luna UI, you can restore the "classic" Win2K-style interface.

9. Improved hardware support—As you would expect, XP supports the latest and greatest hardware devices. XP gives you IDE support for ATA-100, CD-RW, DVD-RAM, and multiple IEEE 1394 (FireWire) ports. In addition, Microsoft will offer a 64-bit version of XP.

8. Application Compatibility mode—To better enable support for older applications, XP's Application Compatibility mode uses a database of known application settings. In Application Compatibility mode, you can specify which OS version to report to an application, and you can adjust various runtime memory-management settings. You'll be able to download updates from Microsoft's Web site.

7. Windows Image Acquisition—WIA brings to XP some of Windows Me's management and processing tools for digital imaging acquisition. You can use WIA to select and import images from most digital cameras. In addition, Microsoft Paint can use WIA to import images directly into its graphical editor.

6. Windows Media Player (WMP) 8.0—The new WMP supports CD-ROM and DVD playback and offers improved audio and visual performance and quality. You can use Group Policies to manage WMP 8.0.

5. Device Driver Rollback—XP's ability to roll back device drivers lets you uninstall any new device drivers that cause the system to become unstable. To activate Device Driver Rollback, select Rollback from the Device Manager.

4. Built-in CD burner—One of XP's nicest features is its built-in ability to burn CDs. You can simply drag sound files onto your CD-ROM drive's desktop icon. An added benefit is that XP's built-in backup utility can now use CD-R and CD-RW media.

3. Internet Connection Firewall—The new Internet Connection Firewall is a terrific enhancement for small office/home office (SOHO) and Internet-connected home users. To prevent intruders from accessing your XP system, this feature uses packet filtering to block LAN, Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet (PPPoE), VPN, and dial-up network traffic. The Internet Connection Firewall also supports port mapping and can dynamically open and close ports as necessary.

2. Remote Desktop—An extension of Win2K Server Terminal Services, Remote Desktop lets you control your system from a remote system. Also, XP provides a Re-mote Desktop Web Connection, an ActiveX control that provides remote control capabilities over a Web connection.

1. Remote Assistance—This feature will be indispensable to corporate Help desks that handle remote troubleshooting. Remote Assistance, which works in conjunction with Remote Desktop, lets a user fill out a Request for Help form and email it to the Help desk. The form prompts the user for an activation period and a password. The email message then enables the support personnel to connect to the user's PC to diagnose and fix the problem.

Corrections to this Article:
  • "Cool New Features in Windows XP" incorrectly states that Windows XP's built-in backup utility can use CD-R and CD-RW media. You can use Windows Explorer to back up to CD-R and CD-RW media. We apologize for any inconvenience this error might have caused.
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