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Windows XP realizes Microsoft's long-term plan of one code base, bringing the stability and security from Windows NT/2000 and the ease of use and hardware support from Windows 9x/Me. John Savill answers your questions about Windows XP—such as the difference between Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional editions, how to get a password hint, and how to activate Windows XP.
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Windows eXPerience (Windows XP) is the name for the next version of Windows 2000 (formerly known as "Whistler"). Technically, Windows XP isn't the huge jump that Win2K was from Windows NT 4.0, but Windows XP does realize Microsoft's long-term plan of one code base. Starting with Windows XP, there will be no more Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me) or Windows 9x.

This merging of the code bases brings the stability and security from Windows NT/2000 and the ease of use and hardware support from Windows 9x/Me.

The next-generation Windows family currently comprises the following products:

  • Windows XP Home Edition (the Win9x replacement)

  • Windows XP Professional (Win2K Professional)

  • Windows .Net Web Server

  • Windows .Net Standard Server

  • Windows .Net Enterprise Server

  • Windows .Net DataCenter

The differences between Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Professional are minor. Windows XP Home Edition supports only one processor; Windows XP Pro supports two. In addition, Windows XP Home Edition doesn't support Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), but Windows XP Pro does. In fact, with Windows XP Pro, even local sessions use RDP, which means that you can log off your machine, someone else can log on to your machine then log off, and you can log on again with all your programs still running! Windows XP also adds support for the 64-bit processor, Itanium, which will ship in Windows XP Pro and Windows .Net Server.

Microsoft is adding some of the neat Windows Me features to Windows XP, including the Video Editor software. Windows XP also has an updated user interface, although the older style UI is still available for those who prefer it. Windows XP beta 1 (build 2296) shipped October 31, 2000. The final version of Windows XP shipped October 25, 2001 with a build number of 2600.

3.1 What is the difference between Windows XP Professional Edition and Windows XP Home Edition?

With Windows XP, the two Windows OS lines merge, so we'll no longer have Windows 2000/Windows NT and Windows Me/Windows 98—just Windows XP. However, we still have two different types of users: the office user and the basic home user with one machine. Hence the two versions of Windows XP: Windows XP Professional, for those accustomed to Win2K Professional/NT Workstation, and Windows XP Home Edition, for those accustomed to Windows Me/Win98.

Although the XP Pro and Home Editions share the same common core code, they don't have the same features. The right version for you depends on the functionality you need. Think of XP Pro as a superset of XP Home. The following is a short list of supported features:

  • Backup—XP Pro has the standard Win2K backup program available as default; XP Home has no backup program available by default (but one can be installed from the CD).

  • Dynamic disks—XP Pro supports dynamic disks; XP Home doesn't.

  • Internet Information Server (IIS)—XP Pro includes IIS; XP Home doesn't.

  • Encrypted File System (EFS)—EFS debuted in Win2K, and it enables you to encrypt files on an NTFS partition, a very useful feature for mobile machines. XP Pro includes EFS; XP Home doesn't.

  • Multiple monitors—XP Pro supports up to ten monitors; XP Home supports only one monitor (Windows Me/Win98 supported multiple monitors).

  • Multiprocessing—XP Pro supports up to two processors; XP Home supports only one (as did Windows Me/Win98).

  • Remote Assistance—Both editions support Remote Assistance, which lets someone from a Help desk connect to the client desktop to troubleshoot problems.

  • Remote desktop—XP Pro adds to Remote Assistance by letting any machine running a Terminal Services client run one Terminal Services session against an XP Pro machine.

  • Domain membership—XP Pro systems can be domain members; XP Home systems can't, but they can access domain resources.

  • Group Policy—XP Pro supports Group Policies; XP Home doesn't.

  • IntelliMirror—XP Pro supports IntelliMirror, which includes Microsoft Remote Installation Services (RIS), software deployment, and user setting management; XP Home doesn't support IntelliMirror.

  • Upgrade from Windows Me/Win98—Both XP Pro and XP Home support this upgrade.

  • Upgrade from Win2K/NT—Only XP Pro supports this upgrade.

  • 64-bit support—Only XP Pro has a 64-bit version that supports the Itanium systems.

  • Network support—XP Pro includes support for Network Monitor, Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), IP Security (IPSec), and Client Services for NetWare (CSNW); XP Home doesn't.

For the best list of supported features, see the Feature Guide document (FEATGUID.DOC) on the root of the XP CD-ROM.

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