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Chapter 1. The Lay of the Land > What’s New in Windows XP

1.2. What’s New in Windows XP

What you’ll find new in Windows XP depends entirely on your perspective, or more specifically, the version of Windows you used last. As described earlier in this chapter, Windows XP is a more substantial upgrade for Windows 9x/Me users, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing new for Windows 2000 users. Although the following list of changes is not comprehensive, it does highlight some of the more interesting changes for users coming from both platforms.

1.2.1. What’s New for Users of Windows 9x/Me

  • As explained earlier in this chapter, the biggest change Windows 9x/Me users will notice is the dramatically improved stability of Windows XP. Although applications still crash in XP, they’re much less likely to bring down the whole system.

  • While Windows 9x/Me would slow down after only a few hours of use (requiring a reboot to bring it back to life), Windows XP can be left on for weeks without so much as a hiccup. The difference is the way system resources, an area of memory devoted to managing running applications and their interface elements, are handled: in Windows 9x/Me, this is a fixed (and rather small) area of memory, which can fill up fast. In Windows XP, system resources are allocated dynamically, which means you’ll never run out.

  • While Windows 9x/Me supported multiple users, this functionality was never more than a way for different users to have different color schemes and desktop icons. In Windows XP, multiple user management is much more sophisticated. If you’re using Windows XP Professional (see the following section), a user will be able to securely encrypt files and folders so that other users can’t read or modify them.

  • Networking in Windows XP is much more powerful and secure than in Windows 9x/Me, but is substantially easier to set up and configure. The Network Properties window (see Chapter 7) actually makes sense now!



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