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 Podcast #5Ė Which version of Windows should I get?
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Posted - February 07 2008 :  01:01:41  Show Profile  Email Poster  Visit 1029usr078198's Homepage  Click to see 1029usr078198's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Hello and welcome to Podcast #5 for August 24, 2006. Iím your host, David Anderson. As you may have heard, on July 11, Microsoft announced it was no longer supporting Windows 98 or ME. Support for Windows 95 and Windows NT has long since been abandoned. In this episode, weíll be looking at the different versions of Windows XP. When Windows Vista comes out, itíll put a whole new spin on things. Weíll probably have to do another one then. But for now, the big question is: Which Windows is best for me?

Windows XP comes in four major flavors. They are: Home, Professional (these are the most common), Media Center Edition, and Tablet PC Edition. You can buy Home or Pro in computer or retail stores, but the other two are only available with a new PC. These two, Tablet PC Edition especially, require specific kinds of hardware to use the extra features of that version of XP.

The flavors of XP are tailored to more-or-less fit a particular usage profile. Those profiles are: General Home/Gaming, Corporate/Business, Student, and Home Theater. Uses in the General Home/Gaming profile include games, obviously, web-surfing, e-mail, webcam, producing podcasts and other everyday things. A high level of security is not a factor here, but simple networking may be. You can connect to your corporate network securely if necessary but only infrequently. If you need to connect frequently, then you fall more into the next profile: Corporate/Business. This profile is for business use. If you will use your computer in a business context more than once-in-a-while, then this is the profile for you. The Student profile encompasses the features of the Home/Gaming profile, adding to it the need for flexible networking options so it is able to connect to whatever kind of Internet access the school or library may offer. Portability is not required, though itís a definite plus, as is additional software for research, note taking, scheduling, and document preparation. Finally, the Home Theater usage profile includes cavernous hard drive space, high-end sound capabilities, wired or wireless networking, a DVD burner, and lots of RAM. You will also commonly find extra outputs for TV connections. Less often, youíll find one or more TV Tuners for watching TV or recording your favorite shows or seriesí.

So, which one do you need? Consider your usage profile. Microsoft targets XP Home and Media Center edition for the home. But Media Center edition is $20-$30 more expensive than Home. If you donít want the Media Center features, then save yourself some money and get the Home version. What Media Center features? Recording TV shows, connecting your computer to your TV to play back recorded shows, photos, music, a free program guide, using a remote to control your computer from up to 10 feet away. Another thing to consider is that Media Center PCs can be more expensive due to the specialized hardware they might include.

Microsoft targets XP Pro for the business community. It starts with the Home edition and adds the capability to access your PC remotely using the Remote Desktop. When combined with a Windows 2000 or later server, you have centralized administration and group policies. You can encrypt files for security, and access network based files even if youíre not connected to the network through offline files and folders. In fact, XP Professional (and Tablet PC edition) are the only versions that support connecting to a Windows domain. If youíre in business and you have 8 to 10 computers, you should begin to consider a server. XP only allows a maximum of 10 network connections from remote computers. This is more of a licensing thing with Microsoft to prevent someone from using a Windows XP computer for a server, but when you have over 10 computers, itís a good idea to move from peer-to-peer to client-server. HmmÖ sounds like a future topic.

Tablet PC Edition is based on the Professional Edition (as is the Media Center Edition) and is designed especially for Tablet PCs. If you have a Tablet PC, you really donít have a choice: Tablet PC edition is for you. The reason for this is that a Tablet PC has a pen you can use to write or draw directly on the screen. The screen is also specialized to work with this pen. Most, but not all, of the Tablet PCs out there are convertible laptops. You can use the system just like a normal laptop, then turn the screen around, lay it back down, lock it in, and use the pen. I have to say; I find this the absolute best one for use by students. If you combine it with Microsoft OneNote you can take notes in class, record your instructorsí lectures, even including video, and your written notes will have the video and audio connected to it IN CONTEXT. Not only that, but the handwritten notes can be turned into typed text by using Tablet PC Editionís built-in handwriting recognition. Itís fabulous.

I have to rant just a bit now. The reason I chose this topic was the statistic that 70% of the computers sold with Media Center Edition donít include a TV tuner. Personally, I think thatís a huge waste. Itís a waste of money for the user if they arenít going to use the Media Center features. Itís a waste of capability if someone buys a Media Center system without a TV tuner. The only time I can see that it really makes sense to buy it this way is if you plan to add a TV tuner later because as I said earlier, Media Center edition is not available as an upgrade, only with a new PC. Ok, Iíll climb down off my soapbox now.

If you have questions or comments about this or any other podcast, donít hesitate to email us at feedback@daconsult.com. Iím David Anderson, Thanks for listening.
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