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Different Versions of Windows

The version of Windows installed on your new PC is probably Windows XP. Microsoft has released different versions of Windows over the years, and XP is the latest—which is why it comes preinstalled on most new PCs.

If you've used a previous version of Windows—such as Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Me—on another PC, Windows XP probably looks and acts a little differently to you. (It's even different from the version of Windows found in most large corporations—Windows 2000.) Don't worry; everything that was in the old Windows is still in the new Windows—it's probably just in a slightly different place.

There are actually two different retail versions of Windows XP. Windows XP Home Edition, which comes with most lower-priced PCs, is the version of XP for home and small-business users. Windows XP Professional Edition, which comes with some higher-priced PCs, is designed for larger businesses and corporate users. They both share the same basic functionality; XP Professional just has a few more features specifically designed for large corporate networks.

Some new "media center" PCs come with a slightly different version of Windows XP called Windows XP Media Center Edition. The Media Center is an optional interface that sits on the top of the normal Windows XP desktop and allows one-button access to key multimedia functions, including My TV, My Music, My Pictures, and My Videos. In fact, PCs equipped with Media Center come with a handheld remote control for quick switching from across the room! If you have Windows XP Media Center, don't panic; underneath the Media Center is the same Windows XP we all know and love, and that is described in this chapter.

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