Microsoft is hoping for a wave of upgrades when Windows XP, the operating system combining the consumer-oriented Windows ME and business-targeted Windows 2000, ships on October 25.
Those still hanging back with Windows 95 are prime candidates for the new OS, says Microsoft spokeswoman Carol Leishman. However, they shouldn’t be expecting to run it on a PC with less than 128MB of RAM. Windows marketing manager Jay Templeton says Windows 2000 users, however, won’t notice much difference when running XP.
Although Windows XP’s new multimedia and interface features aim it primarily at the consumer market, there will be two versions — a 32-bit home user version and a professional edition, which comes in 32-bit or 64-bit variants.
The 64-bit version will be aimed at the “workstation” market; for example, scientific, high-end graphics and CAD/CAM users.
XP has built-in functionality that allows users to download, edit, email and print digital photographs, download and upload music files to MP3 players or handheld devices, play DVDs, download and transfer video and burn CDs without the need for third-party software. At first glance this seems like bad news for makers of software such as RealNetwork’s RealPlayer and Roxio’s Easy CD Writer. But Roxio spokesperson Kathryn Kelly says Roxio has partnered with Microsoft and licensed a limited version of its CD writer technology for XP.
“The functionality in XP is very basic and we are confident users will still want Easy CD Creator for full funtionality,” she says.
XP users will also be able to connect to independent Microsoft .Net integrated services providers. For example, a user could connect to a video streaming service and stream video to friends, order a CD online, or send photos to be professionally printed.
A small number of US service providers are already using XML technology to interface with Microsoft and the New Zealand subsidiary is talking to local companies about doing the same, says Templeton.
On the support front, the already existent Net Meeting technology has been combined with instant messaging and voice capabilities to allow users to let a remote support person take control of their PC.
Local PC manufacturers are gearing up to ensure they have machines loaded with XP available at launch date. Auckland PC maker Arche Technologies says the company has been beta testing the OS and has machines going through hardware compatibility tests.
Arche boss Lance Primrose says in two weeks the company will start offering $29.95 upgrade vouchers entitling buyers of PCs with Windows ME installed to upgrade to XP when it is released.