Opinion: Upgrade to XP? Yes

Windows XP is a must-upgrade for the large number of companies still running the Windows 9X and Windows NT Workstation operating systems. It is these companies that stand to score with XP - not only the IT professionals who bear responsibility for the decision, but also the end users who may be its chief beneficiaries.

XP increases the productivity of users and IT departments. Starting with a new task-based visual design, XP consolidates and simplifies common functions. Resources used most often remain closest at hand, with context-sensitive menus, taskbars and control panels. Faster start up, log on and resume times increase system efficiency and improve laptop power for traveling users.

Furthermore, XP provides greater connectivity than any operating system available today. With the Remote Desktop feature, travelers can remotely access their desktop computer from another Windows PC. As the first operating system to support the 802.1x wireless protocol, XP gives users secure access to wireless networks, with performance improvements that facilitate open movement between networks while supporting high levels of encryption. Coupled with advances in laptop support - such as hot docking, which lets users switch states without changing hardware configurations or rebooting - this spells improved mobility.

IT departments will benefit from XP's ease of deployment. New tools will help administrators ready each computer and simplify installation of the operating system across the network. For IT departments, reliability is king. Building on the 32-bit architecture and fully protected memory model of Windows 2000, XP Professional improves hardware and application compatibility and adds features such as shared Dynamic Link Library support, system restore and device driver rollback. The result is stability that reduces the workload of system administrators, with fewer critical problems and quicker resolution of those that occur.

When it comes to management, IT staffs will appreciate the more than 200 new group and user policy settings that let them control multimedia and features such as Windows Messenger, Windows Media Player and Error Reporting. At the desktop, Compatibility Mode enables users to run applications designed for previous versions of Windows. And smarter IT support tools shorten diagnostic times. With Remote Assistance, IT departments can reduce support costs by securely administering across the network and integrating with the Help and Support menu, directly linking to the corporate help-desk with the Support Automation Framework developer kit.

Upgrading to XP will save your company money, reducing setup and deployment costs as well as operating and maintenance costs.

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