dcsimg
RealTime IT News

Industry Heralds Delivery Of Windows XP To OEMs

Despite looming clouds of regulatory and congressional scrutiny, Microsoft Corp. Friday morning heralded the delivery of Windows XP to computer manufacturers in a send-off complete with helicopters swooping over Redmond.

Microsoft is calling it the biggest Windows event in Microsoft history to be supported by marketing and advertising spending rumored to be in the range of $1 billion.

Set for release on Oct. 25, Microsoft is promising that the latest addition to the Windows family will take the PC to new heights. Software development is complete; beta versions have been tested and retested. According to Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect, Windows XP is the culmination of more than 15 years of research, development and customer feedback.

"Simply put, Windows XP is the best operating system Microsoft has ever built," Gates said.

That assessment is not necessarily shared by privacy watchdogs or U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY). A number of privacy groups have requested the Federal Trade Commission investigate aspects of the operating system for what they call unfair and deceptive trade practices, and have also asked that group for an injunction preventing XP's release until that investigation is completed. Sen. Schumer, meanwhile, has raised some issues of his own and has planned a series of hearing in December to investigate alleged anti-competitive practices in the operating system.

But on Friday, Microsoft's attention, and that of computer manufacturers, was on celebrating XP's arrival.

As a spokesperson for Hewlett-Packard Co. proclaimed Friday morning, "HP is completely prepared to get XP products out to customers ASAP!"

"Receiving the final code from Microsoft allows us to continue our commitment to the PC business," added Rob Wait, home PC business manager, HP Consumer Business Organization.

HP was not the only OEM to feel that way.

"This is an exciting day for anyone who uses a PC," said Michael Ritter, vice president of Entertainment Productivity and Software Solutions, Gateway Inc. "We look forward to delivering systems with Windows XP to enhance the computing experience for our business and consumer customers."

Mike Larson, senior vice president and general manager Access Business Group, Compaq Computer Corp., added "We believe the combination of Windows XP and Compaq's PCs is going to transform our customers' computing experience -- whether they are at home, at work or on the road. We are anticipating one of our most significant holiday sales seasons ever as we deliver the highest-quality Windows XP computing experience for PC users."

Spokespeople from companies like Dell, eMachines, Fujitsu, IBM, MicronPC, NEC, Omni Tech, Sony, Systemax, Toshiba and WinBook shared similar sentiments.

Aside from a whole new look and feel, from the design of the desktop to the usability of the menus, XP includes an upgrade to Windows Media Player 8 that is available only on XP machines, an upgrade to IE 6, which will be made available for download to users of previous IE versions, native support for CD-R/W drives, integrated WiFi (802.11b) wireless networking support, a new Personal Firewall feature, native 1394/Firewire support, and all of the digital media and PC Health features from Windows Me. There are also improvements to the entertainment features of previous Windows versions. XP anticipates users having digital cameras and MP3 devices.

According to Jim Allchin, group vice president of Windows at Microsoft, "Windows XP is the PC experience both home and business users have been looking for with the reliability and stability they have always wanted as well as end-to-end experiences with digital photos, digital music and communication. This is the operating system I have always wanted to build."

Industry confidence is so strong that manufacturers have already been making PCs that are Windows XP-ready. Users who purchase these computers are promised the ability to upgrade to the XP operating system the day the product ships. Companies such as Dell, Gateway, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Sony are putting a great deal of faith in Microsoft's newest product by developing hardware designed around the XP system.

For instance, HP is already selling Windows XP-ready PCs with the option for a Windows XP upgrade on Oct. 25.

Windows XP comes in two versions: the Home Edition for individuals and families, and the Professional version for enterprises.

-- Thor Olavsrud and Christopher Pace contributed to this article.