Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Tuesday, 30 October, 2001, 12:14 GMT
Windows XP: Welcome arrival or cause for concern?
Microsoft claims its new Windows XP operating system is faster and more reliable than anything it has designed before.

Windows XP is being been seen as a pivotal part of the software empire's strategy to expand its influence over the internet.

The operating system has already come under fire for being so closely tied in to other Microsoft products and for unfairly attempting to sideline the competition.

With Bill Gates' dominance in the computer software market, his competitors now fear he is trying to monopolise the internet.

What do you think of Microsoft's new operating system? Are you going to upgrade to Windows XP? Or are you concerned about the software giant's grand ambitions?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

I will not be buying Windows XP. The reason is simply that I do not need it. My computer does everything that I either want or need it to do at the moment so I am not going to waste time and money on it.
James Head, UK

If you don't like it don't buy it

Mike, USA
It's a free world. If you don't like it don't buy it. Quit the whining about MS monopoly and garbage like that.
Mike, USA

I've been using the final version for a couple of weeks and it's superb. Very stable, very fast and great to look at. It's got the best bits of all of the previous versions of Windows - and then some added - rolled into one. Excellent.
Bobby Elliott, UK

Why are folk so concerned by who sees inside their computer? That's common, regardless of XP. Most correspondents appear to either hate Microsoft, or love it. But objective observations on a new operating system are obviously too tough.
Tim Bayley, New Zealand

If Microsoft claims its new Windows XP operating system is "faster and more reliable than anything it has designed before", then why does it need a 500 MHz machine to run it?

I will be using Linux from now on

Colin Main, UK
When Microsoft released Windows 98 and ME they made a big thing about it being able to run on old hardware, even 386s. Now they expect me to buy it without even a guarantee that I will be able to use it without a several hundred pound hardware upgrade! I will be using Linux and Wine from now on.
Colin Main, UK

People will not buy it because they have no need to. I ran Windows 95 for many years as a software developer on my work PC and it served me well until I received a new PC upgrade which came with Windows 2000. All of the applications that I run on it would run perfectly well on Windows 95, and probably faster. People, wake up - we don't need it!
Ralph, England

In reality XP doesn't actually make much of a day-to-day difference. Except that you will have paid Microsoft $300 so they could lock you in to their software long-term. Why get so excited about XP when there are operating systems out there which at Microsoft's rate of improvement are the equivalent of Windows XP version 8?
Luke, New Zealand

Running XP has been good for me as far as game support goes, and it has the added stability that its predecessor brought. Oddly enough though, I am typing this under Netscape on SuSE Linux 7.1. Freedom for me isn't berating Bill Gates and his often bloated products, it is the ability to dual-boot that provides me freedom. Windows XP does not hamper that at all for me, and it handles what I and my family ask it to do.
Jon D, Scotland

It's already a known fact that the Clinton administration spent more money trying to break up Microsoft than to stop Bin Laden. No matter what you think about Gates and his business practices, nobody is forcing you to buy XP. So please knock off all this conspiracy nonsense about Gates and America trying to take over the world. Turn off your computers, leave your mothers' basements, and get some fresh air for a change.
Tom Byrne, USA

XP is a blatant two-fingers to the US justice system

Andy, UK
XP is a blatant two-fingers to the US justice system. Not only did they escape punishment for their anti-competitive behaviour in bundling Internet explorer with Windows 98 etc, but then they go and bundle every piece of Microsoft software they can into XP so that no third party vendors get a look in. We should all follow Korea's stance. As for domination of the Internet - I think, and hope, that they will fall flat on their faces. Oh, by the way, you don't need a passport or MSN account to use XP, despite all the splash screens XP displays to the contrary. It's just yet another blatant marketing attempt.
Andy, UK

For all those people whining about Microsoft's monopoly, privacy, unstable OS etc. there is a very easy solution. Don't buy anything from Microsoft. I challenge anyone to prove that they could not survive without a Microsoft product. I do, and I'm smug! I smile at references to reloads, virus attacks, reinstalls, registry errors etc. I have 22 years experience in IT, I'm successfully self employed designing and writing real IT applications for the real world!
Brian S, UK

The key activation does not really matter now. There are hackers who have written software to bypass this issue already, so if anyone wanted XP and wanted to keep their details secure they could simply download this software hack from the internet and bypass the activation key. Hackers are always one step ahead of Microsoft. I don't know why they bother with new features like the activation key when it has been broken before the product is even on general release.
Ben Jones, UK

Is this a news story? Hardly. Thanks BBC for spending my license fee on a commercial. Come into any art and design institution or school and you'll see students producing music videos and movies quickly and with real creativity using iMovie - some two years older and still better than the movie editor Windows have apparently 'invented'. I saw the first XP ad on TV the other day - it was almost identical to Apple's iMovie ad from 18 months ago. Well done Microsoft. That's some definition of 'innovative'!
Jonathan, UK

Hopefully, since upgrading to Windows XP will require so many users to buy completely new systems, many folks will wise up and buy a Macintosh instead. Or if they do opt for PCs, maybe some of them will load Linux on their old machines and notice that it runs faster than XP does on their new machines.
Geoff, USA

Microsoft who?
Stephen, happy Linux user, England

How is the general public supposed to be excited about the latest version of Windows?

Eric Joe, USA
All Windows criticisms aside, how is the general public supposed to be excited about the latest version of Windows, when Microsoft is releasing a new version every 9-12 months? I don't hate Bill Gates, he is a brilliant man. I don't hate Windows, I use Windows 2000, NT , and 98 every day. But what I really like is Open Source software where I am not tied down by buying licenses and spending thousands of dollars on the OS and applications. I don't know how I could have my successful ISP business without Linux and open source software.
Eric Joe, USA

I don't know about PCs more than three years old being incompatible. I was unable to install it on one only 18 months old. Don't buy it unless you are absolutely sure your PC is ok. Will Microsoft do refunds if it isn't? Hmm...
Karl Johnson, UK

Microsoft has revolutionised the industry? Hardly. That was done mostly by Xerox, Parc and Mac concerning GUI interfaces. Yes everyone, Bill just nicks his ideas. I wont be buying XP.
Scott, UK

Companies can now track exactly what you do and where you go

Andrea Summers, UK
Windows XP comes with Product Activation. This means for it to work Microsoft will be given details of your computer processor, graphics card and unique identifying network code (MAC address). This MAC address is sent with every 'bit' of communication with the outside world (Websites for example) It's conceivable therefore that companies can now almost completely track exactly what you do and where you go. Not only that, but Microsoft will have a really huge record of everyone's computer set-ups, and whenever you upgrade or buy new hardware you may need to re-activate Windows XP. Therefore they know what kind of things you buy. This information can easily be sold on, or used for unscrupulous purposes.
Andrea Summers, UK

In response to Andrea Summers. A computer's MAC address is not sent with every 'bit' of data as stated, but will only be sent to the next immediate hop. (Probably an ISP router.) If you where really interested in tracking someone this is not really the way to do it, as only the ISP could possibly manage. There are a multitude of better ways, mainly through the use of web bugs and cookies. I will openly admit I am no friend of Microsoft but I remember all of this scaremongering from the release of Windows 95, which was successful. We just need to lie back and accept the inevitable.
Lee, UK

Good to see all of the usual scaremongers and fringe loonies out in force on this one! Lets face it, does Microsoft really care about reading the contents of your hard drive? Or what hardware configurations you have? I would say not. As someone who has worked in the IT industry for over 10 years, and worked on a range of platforms, all I can say is that any company or group who wants to write an operating system which is to work on the PC can give it a try. Think about the range of chip manufacturers you have to cater for, the peripheral devices and then all of the software which you have to provide hooks for. It is an immense task, and will provide a myriad of bugs, holes and glitches.

As for MS having a stranglehold - well they are a business, and a very successful one. The aim of a business is to make money. Renting software guarantees revenue streams in the future. If the market likes the idea of renting their software, the new model will work. If they don't, Microsoft will do yet another back flip and start selling.
Phil, UK

In reply to Phil. if the market accepts renting software than that's fine. The problem is that Microsoft may not give them the choice not to. They are a monopoly, and can use and abuse that fact to force 'software as a service' down the throats of the consumers, and we may be powerless to resist.
Fabio, UK

It's about time the PC manufacturers stood up to Microsoft and supported Linux

Andrew Chilton, UK
It's about time the PC manufacturers stood up to Microsoft and supported a Linux distribution on their new PCs containing all the free software the user is ever likely to use. This would make it easy for the user (no installation) and it would never have to be upgraded, since it wouldn't crash and wreck the system. Unless they want you to upgrade of course - more money for them. Maybe I should create my own company to do just that - who wants to join me?
Andrew Chilton, UK

I will not install Windows XP on my computer. I don't like the way they tie the user to Microsoft, as well as how they have bundled software into the operating system, making it a problem if I wish to use programs I am familiar with, satisfied with and which I know work well. Even if I do an upgrade of my hardware I need Bill Brother's permission to continue using his software. I am also unhappy with XP's security. To quote Microsoft's own documentation, "Because of security concerns under Windows NT, only members of the Administrators group may create raw sockets." In XP all users are administrators. XP has full raw socket support. These raw sockets are an open door for hackers to enter and share one's computer. Very, Very serious. XP is the final straw that has motivated me to go over to Linux.
Hams Magnet, Sweden

Every time Microsoft release a new operating system or new version of their software, it requires a more powerful PC to get the same performance as before. Now how is that progress?
Maz, UK

Windows XP will require newer software (particularly games) and hardware to run, which should hamper the home market. Note also the new alliance with AMD such that XP has been written to boost performance of non-Intel based PCs, which won't make the business market terribly happy (AMD have only just released dual processor CPUs). Neither home nor office people will like registering their OS at all let alone every time they change their hardware. Good marketing plan Microsoft! Now that they have made the world rely on them they start to tighten the ropes...
Richard Green, UK

I have been a Windows user since the days of DOS and Windows 3.0. I agree with some views that there was little difference between Windows 95 to ME, but Windows 2000 is a major revolution in network operating systems. I have had little to no problems with 2000 and would recommend it to anyone: stable, reliable and robust - nothing like its predecessor NT4. That's why I strong believe that XP (at least the professional edition) will assist and improve the effectiveness of IT skills in troubleshooting technical problems within IT departments. My main reason to want to "test drive" XP is to see it's remote access capabilities in regards to improving my own productivity at work. So before everyone gives it bad press, let's give it a chance to show us what it can really do.
Dan Chang, UK

So here's the latest stage of the Microsoft and American plan for world dominance. Anyone who installs it should be aware that Microsoft can then see what components your computer has, read what files you have on your hard drive, and (via the Internet) send unwanted files to you. Thus it will control the operation of your own computer, doubtless blocking any Microsoft competitor, and in the end disable the software you've just paid $300 for if it doesn't like the sound card you've just installed. This is "big brother" madness in the extreme. Linux for me!
Eric Hall, Pionsat France

If what Eric Hall of Pionsat, France says is correct, then Microsoft will probably be contravening UK Computer Misuse legislation in some way. But I suppose, like all software products, simply opening the packaging which the disk comes in means that you have read, understood and agreed to the totally one-sided and unfair "terms and conditions of use" which attach to all software sales. Whatever happened to statutory rights?
Robert Turner, Scotland

XP is puny in comparison to OS X

Victor, USA
After using Mac OS X, I don't see what the big deal is about. XP is puny in comparison to OS X. Most of its "innovations" are really rip-offs from Apple, or Linux Mandrake, or AOL. Unfortunately, the ignorant masses are more easily convinced to use software by billion dollar promo campaigns and not by actual quality and innovation. (I mean true innovation, not what Microsoft calls innovation.)
Victor, USA

It seems that all of you people who are complaining about XP are those who have not actually used it. I've been running it for a couple of months now and it is by far the best OS I have ever used. It takes the stable base of the current OS (Windows 2000) and adds many, many great features. Plus my PC goes from hitting the power button to being inside windows in only 30 seconds. Hurray for Windows XP.
Bradlay Law, UK

I work for a software reseller and the majority of our business comes from Microsoft licensing. The fact of the matter is that Microsoft are taking away the ability to simply upgrade from the earlier versions that so many companies are still using, effectively crippling a lot of smaller organisations that do not have an IT budget to cover the costs involved. The idea is that companies will be forced to keep up with the times and be penalised for not running the latest version.
James, Great Britain

Remember everybody, there is no law requiring you to upgrade to the latest version!
Kevin Elliott, Oxford, UK

Why do people hate Bill Gates?

Craig, England
Why do people hate Bill Gates? So windows crashes a few times - big deal. Just think how his products have revolutionised the way people use computers and the internet. Every company is out to make money and it just so happens that Microsoft make tons of the stuff. They deserve it, I say, and I'll be installing XP the moment I can get it. If your PC specs aren't up to scratch then I would suggest you need to upgrade anyway. Windows is easy to use, and has opened up computing to everyone. This is why it has a monopoly, not due to some sinister American big-brother style campaign as some of you unfortunately believe. And don't get me started on Linux. Of course it's stable - no decent games or applications run on it!
Craig, England

Microsoft have consistently turned out shoddy, bloated operating systems that patronise users like fools. Their monopoly has held back the progress of computer science, and has caused immeasurable agony in lost files and inopportune reboots. Furthermore, it seems nothing can stop them - not even the US justice system! But maybe we can. Linux was always more powerful and stable than Windows, and now it is just as easy to install. Furthermore it is free of charge, and it will not report your details to the powers that be. With XP's release I will be joining the tide of people switching over to, and developing for, Linux. After all, Microsoft's power is all in their ability to wield huge sums at their opposition. Be warned, Mr. Gates - you cannot buy out that which is already free.
Russ, UK

There is no way I'm moving to XP. I find it hilarious that Microsoft bleats on about its "innovations". The truth is that Microsoft has killed innovation through its downright nasty and ruthless domination. Unfortunately Microsoft is too big to be controlled by such trivial things as High Court rulings. Hopefully the great open-source revolution will come soon via the stable and extremely cheap Linux operating system. All Linux needs is a more user-friendly front end for people who can't or don't want to learn real operating system control.
Kelvin Ayres, England

We should do as Korea does - ban it, at least until Microsoft learns how to spell "favourites".
Kevin, England

I couldn't see too much difference between Windows 95, 98, 2000 or ME

Ian, London, UK
As the Home PC market is in serious decline, along comes this year's Microsoft upgrade, with a nice new slant of moving your software into a subscription service rather than a bought product. I couldn't see too much difference between Windows 95, 98, 2000 or ME, yet each was marketed as a revolution. XP is simply a new way of getting more money of people. Not good.
Ian, London, UK

Most of the negative comments so far are attacking XP merely because it has been released by Microsoft. Linux isn't that great: it's cheaper and has good functionality but it can be fiddly too, especially for Windows users. I will not be buying it solely because the price is too high. I will await the pirate release...
Matthew, UK

I noticed that there is much talk of all the new applications bundled with XP. However, it doesn't appear to come with any of the basic text-editing and search tools I use every day, and which Unix-based systems have had for years. Such tools could have been included without affecting the average user at all. That said, it is great to see Microsoft finally give us a way to run applications remotely - the reason I first switched to a different OS.
Edd Edmondson, UK

I have used every MS operating system since DOS 1.25 but will not upgrade to Windows XP. The idea of registering everything with Microsoft goes against all that I like about computers - the idea that I am in charge. That is why they are known as "personal" computers. I have been running a parallel system using Linux for some time now. Linux is much faster and more secure than Windows and I don't have to upgrade my computer just to run it. Using Windows emulators I can use all the Windows programs I need under Linux. I think Bill has just tipped me over the edge. When I can't run important software under Windows 2000 I will abandon Microsoft altogether. They really have lost the plot and, sad to say, I don't need them any more.
Tom, UK

I can't see the point in buying Windows XP. I already have Windows 2000, and so installing XP (with it's bulky interface and bloated back-end) would surely be a downgrade.
Ben Metcalfe, UK

It amazes me that you Microsoft lemmings allow yourselves to be ripped off by Dollar Bill

Brian S, UK
Windows XP looks pretty, but nowhere near as pretty as MacOS X, which Microsoft are clearly trying to copy, once again. Even the adverts are straight out of the Apple portfolio. Of course, the real problem is that Microsoft's operating systems are facades covering clunky, ill written, bug-ridden cores. It never ceases to amaze me that you Microsoft lemmings allow yourselves to be continually ripped off by Dollar Bill. If Microsoft made cars you would all happily accept that three mornings out of five you would not make it to work.
Brian S, UK

I think that Windows XP is the best version ever! Well done Microsoft for sticking with it and promoting the use of new utilities in the OS. I'll definitely be using it! I have not seen it crash yet and the extra functionality it includes is truly awesome! Well done!
Jason Gerrard, UK

Yes it is faster and more reliable. Shame it's also more controlling, more power-hungry, more likely to put smaller software companies out of business, more uncompetitive, more likely to keep people in the closed garden of Microsoft software, more likely to be incompatible with hardware you already have and, finally, more likely to be the last successful OS Microsoft makes. Their Internet strategy (of which this is but the first part) will be their undoing: we don't want to rent software, we want to buy.
Miles Cheverton, UK

I think that Microsoft are going to get egg on their face with XP's product activation. Aside from having to call Microsoft to register your new operating system initially, the idea that Windows requires you to do this again should you make changes to the hardware of your computer seem impractical at best and ludicrous at worst. As an IT professional, I don't need to be calling Microsoft every time I change my machine set-up, just so Windows will work.
Rob Cowell, England

I use my PC for business purposes only and all my software works fine. I really can't see what XP is going to bring me. And in any case, given Microsoft's track record, I'll wait for a few service packs and security patches to be released before seriously considering the product.
Joe Ryan, France

The media talk about Windows like it's the only operating system

James, UK
The media talk about Microsoft Windows like it's the only operating system available. We never saw the launch of Apple OSX on the news, or heard about how the Pentagon is switching from PCs to Macs because Microsoft and Intel products are too easy to hack.
James, UK

Microsoft always say their latest OS is, "Easier, faster and more fun." In reality, they need regular releases to maintain their stock value. It's only software, and most intelligent people realise that their computers already do what they want.
Arthur, UK

I'm writing this mail on a SuSE Linux system. It's very powerful, it comes with a free office software suite (Sun Star Office) which reads and writes Word and Excel documents, it never crashes and it's built-in network support is superb. Microsoft are in trouble because they only sell their software by twisting the arms of PC manufacturers into selling it with new PC's. (Ever tried to buy a PC without Windows?) Right now people have already got powerful PCs, so they're not upgrading - hence there will be low sales for XP.
Patrick Hayden, Netherlands

This sounds like another conspiracy between Microsoft, Intel and PC manufacturers. We are told that we need to upgrade. Same old story - Intel makes it faster, Bill slows it down. Does XP mean eXtra PC sales?
Andy Davies, Hong Kong

Ultimately, it's just a minor revision of Windows 2000 with a new "Fisher Price" user interface, and the controversial activation stuff already mentioned. Windows 2000 is much more reliable than Windows 95, 98 or ME, and is well worth the upgrade. XP doesn't seem to add anything useful. I'll be sticking with Windows 2000 for the foreseeable future.
Stuart, UK

Gates is the tail that wags the dog

Werner L Stunkel, USA
I am sickened by Microsoft's attempts to collect the few remaining dollars (or Euros) in the economy. Not only do you have to pay outrageous prices to upgrade from your previous Microsoft operating system, you will likely need a faster CPU, more memory, a larger disk, and a faster bus. In short, a new Intel computer, or clone, to get acceptable performance and bug-fixes that Microsoft should have given away for free, like Apple and others. "XP" obviously is an acronym for "eXtended Profits" for Microsoft. Now we also have to redesign the web, too, because Microsoft Internet Explorer will not support Java enabled pages. Gates is the tail that wags the dog.
Werner L Stunkel, USA

I have been using Windows XP for a while now as part of the preview program, and I can say without doubt that this is the operating system you should be using. It's a pity Bill Gates and Microsoft didn't do this years ago.
James Collins, UK

Eventually I may upgrade to Windows XP, mainly because the Windows operating systems are becoming the world's standard. I find nothing much wrong with the current versions but every time there is a new version I upgrade. The only version I didn't get on with was Windows 2000.
Phil T, Oman

There is an old saying, "Requires Windows 98 or better, so I installed Linux." When I am convinced that XP is stable, I will consider using it myself. Also, when certain configuration issues I have seen with it are resolved, and it can happily cohabit with other operating systems, then it might find its way on to one of my computers.
Steven, USA / UK

I've been putting off purchase of my new PC until XP is available

Mike, Germany
I've been putting off the purchase of my new PC until XP is available. I'm sure that I'm not the only one, and with the run up to Christmas I'm sure that PC sales will rocket now.
Mike, Germany

I will not change to Windows XP. I have no desire to share details of the contents of my PC with Bill Gates, nor to introduce any of his spy-ware on to my machine. Unfortunately, XP will be distributed pre-installed with new PCs, and the vast majority of people will meekly join the Microsoft-following sheep without being given an option. All those who can should avoid Windows XP.
James, UK

I think that it is unlikely that the Windows XP operating system will fail to attract users, but in light of the recent downturn in the economies of major user-countries, I would anticipate that home users may hold off from buying the new system for a while. One caveat is that the new operating system may require a dramatic increase in the amount of RAM for its benefits to be realised. It is ironic that Bell Labs announced earlier this week that they had succeeded in producing over one million computer chips in an area no larger than a grain of sand. This will in the future, no doubt, change the concept of computing as we know it today in 2001.
Irvine Shamrock, USA

I don't think I'll be buying XP. As someone who regularly upgrades his hardware I find it absurd that after buying the package I'll have to activate it via the Internet, and the key I'm given will relate to my hardware. If I change my hardware I'll need to reactivate the package. Perhaps this doesn't sound like too much of a problem, but like many so-called anti-piracy measures it will only inconvenience the legitimate user. Pirates will produce a software hack to disable the feature and continue with business as usual leaving the purchaser with all the hassle. Bad move, Microsoft!
Bill, UK

Is this the same Microsoft that promised everyday tasks would be "faster, easier and more fun" under Windows 95 and then introduced what I found to be one of their least reliable products ever? As with most new Microsoft products, I won't be buying it until it proves itself.
John B, UK

...that irritating, irritating, irritating paperclip

Andrew, Newcastle, England
I think it is disgusting that Microsoft have the monopoly on operating Systems. Windows is not even that good, and the world is crying out for a viable alternative without the bugs and general Microsoftisms such as that irritating, irritating, irritating paperclip that appears on Office. Linux is more stable, but probably too complex for the home market.
Andrew, Newcastle, England

I expect I'll stick with Linux, FreeBSD and Solaris. And AmigaOS on my main computer.
Adam Atkinson, UK

See also:

05 Oct 01 | Business
Korean firms seek ban on Windows XP
24 Aug 01 | Business
Microsoft ships Windows XP
19 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Microsoft 'experiments' with XP

Links to more Talking Point stories