Essay Preview: Windows Xp
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The Microsoft Corporation has been around for many years now, and for many years, they have provided the leading operating system to consumers and businesses alike. Throughout the years Microsoft has not been able to rest on their laurels while consumers and businesses invest billions of their dollars to purchase their software. For as many years as MS-DOS and Windows have been in existence, Microsoft has seen competition from many different computing giants. Some lucky competitors who have carved their niche in the industry have escaped becoming extinct and some where not so lucky. In order to do this, Microsoft continually creates innovative products and advances to their operating systems that make them the best. I dont believe that there is a lack of competition, in fact I believe that it is Microsofts fierce competitive spirit that has allowed them to grow into the computing mogul that they are. Microsofts inherit ability to put together a solid multi purpose operating system that includes applications that can accomplish most of the tasks that the average user requires shows that they still possess the innovation to create competitive products. Microsofts fiercest competitors like Apple and Linux are consistently putting Microsoft to the test. Many venues are abandoning their dependence on Windows and are switching to other operating system developers that best suit their purpose. Microsofts newest operating system, Windows XP, is an excellent software platform that is not only easy to use but also provides any user the power to control their environment.
Microsoft first began developing its graphics interface software in 1981, and finally put the boxes on the shelf four years later. Even before Microsoft sold their first version of Windows in 1985, they had to compete with operating systems like VisiOn, TopView, Apple Lisa, GEM, DESQ, Amiga Workbench, IBM OS/2 and Tandys Deskmate (Windows History). All of these operating systems utilized a GUI, Graphic User Interface, much like Microsofts Windows. As you can see Microsoft was born into an environment rich in competitive ingenuity.
Microsoft has systemically weeded out the majority of its competition throughout the last twenty years. They have done this through continually thinking out of the box and upgrading their products to remain relevant to the home and business user. For the home user, Windows has made large strides in multitasking and multimedia development and support. Windows 3.0 was a complete overhaul of the Windows operating system. This update which contained a more powerful user interface, motivated independent software vendors to dedicate themselves to developing software applications for the Windows environment. Windows 95 saw a completely different and unique desktop environment compared to earlier versions. Windows 95 also saw a lesser dependence on DOS. The internet came on strong between the time of Windows 95 and Windows 98 and one of the major contributions that Windows 98 provided was the look and feel of browsing the web. Not only could you surf the net, but you could also surf the normal everyday functions of your computers operating system. Windows 98 also provided the ability to connect a wide array of new hardware. Hardware using the new formats of Universal Serial Bus (USB), Firewire, and Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) were now supported by Microsoft (Windows History). These innovations allowed users to easily upgrade their systems with add on equipment without opening the machine and replacing often cumbersome cards and manipulating confusing DIP switches.
Windows ME saw very few improvements over its predecessor, Windows 98 SE. Windows ME was primarily developed for home users with the emphasis being on new multimedia features. Unfortunately Windows ME was plagued by many bugs that hampered the functionality of the system.
This leads us to Windows XP, Microsofts newest version of operating system software. Windows XP is available in three different versions. Windows XP Home, Windows XP Professional, and Windows XP Media Center Edition. I currently have or have used each version of this software. Windows XP as an operating system is, naturally, significantly better than any previous version of Windows. After having experienced the turmoil of Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, and Windows ME, the ease of use and the smooth operation of Windows XP is a true blessing. The major differences between Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional are that of accessibility and security. Windows XP Professional contains many features that allow the user to access their data files from remote locations. It also contains features that allow the user to encrypt data files and to restrict access to specified system and data files (Windows XP Comparison Guide).
Windows XP Media Center Edition is the Windows XP Professional operating system that incorporates multimedia software that allows the user to play music, watch DVDs, and watch live television. Of course, your computer must have a video card or TV card that will accept a TV Signal. With Windows XP Media Center Edition the user can watch live television, record their favorite program, and burn the program to DVD.
One of Microsofts most recent innovations that add to its competitive nature is Service Pack 2, or SP2. With SP2 for XP, all users have the ability to use, or not to use, the built in virus protection, firewall, and popup blocker software. I personally do not use these software options because I rely on the Symantec suite of protective software and my own popup blocker from EarthLink.
I believe that if the educated consumer shops around, they will be able to find alternatives that may better suit them instead of using XPs proprietary software such as Media Player or Windows Movie Maker. It is the responsibility of the up and coming software developers to advertise their applications as viable alternatives to XPs embedded software. Microsoft does package an impressive array of software for the average user, but one can find better if they are willing to pay the price.
Some of Windows biggest competitors are the MAC OS X and Linux. All three systems have their pros and cons.
The MAC OS X operating system provides security that a Windows based machine cannot provide. Recently when the White Houses former top cyber-security and anti-terrorism expert, Richard Clarke, visited Australia and new Zealand recently, he carried an Apple Macintosh, not a Windows machine (Frith). Clarke chooses the MAC because of its ability to protect his data from nearly all attacks from viruses, worms, network attacks, and spyware (Frith). In a head to head competition between MAC OS X