Weighing in on XP Feature Presentation

If you like Windows 2000, you'll like Windows XP professional. But maybe not enough to pay $199 for an upgrade.

If you like Windows 2000, youll like Windows XP professional. But maybe not enough to pay $199 for an upgrade. And therein lies the basis for Microsofts continual upgrade saga of keeping the best of the previous version, adding enough new features to make the upgrade attractive and playing the fact that in the world of a desktop monopoly, your biggest competitor is always yourself.

In this weeks issue, Technical Analyst Jason Brooks finds a lot of reasons to finally toss your Windows 9x versions into the trash can and a few reasons, depending on your computing needs, to load XP Pro.

Mobile users will gain in performance, wireless LAN deployment and configuration, and youll get added security measures. Well see if Microsoft can spin those improvements into must-have reasons by the October launch.

One item sure to get attention is WPA, which stands for Windows Product Activation. See Jasons story for a fuller explanation, but privacy and anti-piracy advocates will find plenty to argue about on this one. Also take a look at John Tascheks column on what Microsoft engineers tackled adding all those nifty features to XP without bogging down its performance.

If you dont want to wait for XPs wireless security features, there are alternatives. Wireless security has been getting lots of press since folks found it was not all that difficult to get free Internet access simply by being in the parking lot of a company running a wireless network. In this issue Andrew Garcia takes a look at a new packet analyzer that can help you find if someone is sniffing your bosss e-mail and also discusses new authentication and management products to help you navigate the 802.11b airwaves.

Francis Chus column this week explains how for $25,000 you can lock down that e-mail with CipherTrust IronMail. And what about a free security product from Microsoft, no less? Steve Myrthil tried Microsoft Personal Security Advisor and found it decent for a quick security audit. And the price is right.

On a sad note, we mark the passing this week of Michael Dertouzos, the MIT professor who was one of the few able to blend technology and humanism. In my experience, the best futurists possess the greatest sense of the sweep of history. Dertouzos was ample proof of that and in interviews was always ready to make a detour to the past to prove a point about the technological future. His achievements were many (Tim Berners-Lee said that without Dertouzos there would probably never have been a World Wide Web Consortium), and he will be especially missed in this current state of technological and economic uncertainty.