Windows XP was released on August 24, 2001 for both business and personal computer users and was released worldwide October 25, 2001. The name "XP" is short for "eXPerience" highlighting the enhanced user experience.
Windows XP was the first Windows NT kernel based OS designed for both the business and general consumer markets, and are much more stable than the the Windows 9x line of operating systems due to the improved codebase (heavily based on Windows 2000).
It was also the first version of Windows to implement product activation to prevent piracy.
Succeeded by Windows Vista in January 2007.
Windows XP featured a new task-based GUI (Graphical user interface). The Start menu and Taskbar were updated and many visual effects were added, including:
- A translucent blue selection rectangle in Windows Explorer
- Drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop
- Task-based sidebars in Explorer windows ("common tasks")
- The ability to group the taskbar buttons of the windows of one application into one button, with a popup menu listing the window titles
- The ability to lock the taskbar and other toolbars to prevent accidental changes
- The highlighting of recently added programs on the Start menu
- Shadows under menus (Windows 2000 had shadows under mouse pointers, but not menus)
- Visual styles feature added, allowing users to customize Windows user interface, such as Luna (default, enabled automatically on all PC with more than 64 MB of RAM), Zune (modified version of theme 'Royale Blue"), "Energy Blue" (Media Conter theme available to all Windows XP versions as a download) and Windows Classic (emulates the color scheme of the Windows 9.x series).
- Windows will analyze the PC to see if it can handle advanced graphical effects and will enable what it believes the PC can handle in terms of processing power, but the user can modify this manually. Other effects are handled by the video card and can be enabled/disabled at will by the user, such as transparency and fading effects.
New and updated featuresEdit
Windows XP introduced several new features to the Windows line, including:
- GDI+ graphics subsystem and improved image management and viewing in the shell.
- DirectX 8.1 upgradeable to DirectX 9.0c
- Start Menu and Taskbar improvements
- A number of new features in Windows Explorer including task panes, tiles and filmstrip views, improved sorting and grouping, searching by document categories, customizable infotips, built-in CD burning, AutoPlay, Simple File Sharing and WebDAV mini-redirector.
- Improved imaging features such as Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, improved image handling and thumbnail caching in Explorer
- A number of kernel enhancements and power management improvements.
- Faster start-up, (due to improved Prefetch functions) logon, logoff, hibernation and application launch sequences.
- The ability to discard a newer device driver in favor of the previous one (known as driver rollback) should a driver upgrade not produce desirable results.
- Numerous improvements to increase the system reliability such as improved System Restore, Automated System Recovery, Windows Error Reporting and driver reliability.
- A new, arguably more user-friendly interface, including the framework for developing themes for the desktop environment and richer icons with alpha transparency
- Hardware support improvements such as USB 2.0, FireWire 800, Windows Image Acquisition, Media Transfer Protocol, DualView for multi-monitors and audio improvements.
- Fast user switching, which allows a user to save the current state and open applications of their desktop and allow another user to log on without losing that information.
- The ClearType font rendering mechanism, which is designed to improve text readability on liquid crystal display (LCD) and similar monitors, especially laptops.
- Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop features, which allow users to connect to a computer running Windows XP from across a network or the Internet and access their applications, files, printers, and devices or request help.
- New networking features including Windows Firewall, Internet Connection Sharing integration with UPnP, NAT traversal APIs, Quality of Service features, IPv6 and Teredo tunneling, Background Intelligent Transfer Service, extended fax features, network bridging, peer to peer networking, support for most DSL modems, IEEE 802.11 (Wi-Fi) connections with auto configuration and roaming, TAPI 3.1, Bluetooth and networking over FireWire.
- New security features such as Software Restriction Policies, Credential Manager, Encrypting File System improvements, improved certificate services, smart card and PKI support. Windows XP SP2 introduced Data Execution Prevention, Windows Security Center and Attachment Manager.
- Side-by-side assemblies and registration-free COM
- Improved media features in Windows Media format runtime, Windows Media Player, Windows Movie Maker, TV/video capture and playback technologies, Windows Media Encoder and introduction of Windows Media Center
- General improvements to international support such as more locales, languages and scripts, MUI support in Terminal Services, improved IMEs and National Language Support, Text Services Framework
- Handwriting recognition, speech recognition and digital ink support accessible through the Tablet PC Input Panel (TIP) in Windows XP Tablet PC Edition
- Numerous improvements to system administration tools such as Windows Installer, Windows Script Host, Disk Defragmenter, Windows Task Manager, Group Policy, CHKDSK, NTBackup, Microsoft Management Console, Shadow Copy, Registry Editor, Sysprep and WMI.
- Improved application compatibility and shims compared to Windows 2000
- Updated accessories and games.
- Improvements to IntelliMirror features such as Offline Files, Roaming user profiles and Folder redirection.
- Windows XP Home Edition: For home users.
- Windows XP Professional, designed for business/advanced users.
- Windows XP Media Center Edition: For multimedia users (OEM only)
- Windows XP Professional x64 Edition - Made for x86-64 processors.
- Windows XP Tablet PC Edition - Made for tablet PC users.
- Windows XP Embedded - Made for consumer electronics like ATMs, certain video game arcade cabinets, ATMs, etc.
- Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs - (thin client version of XP for Software Assurance customers) For corporate users with older hardware (such as the original class of Pentium processors) who cannot upgrade but still wish to have the security features of XP.
- Windows XP Starter Edition - Low cost version Windows XP (similar to Home) available in economically disadvantaged countries, with the following features and limitations:
- Can only run three programs at a time.
- Has custom themes based on release region.
- Has regional localization features for those new to using Windows.
- Windows XP Edition N (Home and Professional, March 2004) Release of XP without Windows Media Player installed to comply with European Commission legal standards regarding media monopolies.
- Windows XP Edition K and KN (Home and Professional, August 2006) - Same as Edition N, but made for the South Korean market after a legal decision by the Korean Fair Trade Commission similar to the European Commission ruling.
Most versions of Windows XP have support for multiple languages and MUI packs / Language Interface Packs are available for download from Windows Update or Microsoft's own Download Center for greater language support.
Windows XP has three service packs, and the install path for each service pack is as follows:
- Service Pack 1: Windows XP (stock)
- Service Pack 2: Windows XP (stock) or SP1 installed.
- Service Pack 3: SP1 or SP2 must be installed
Note: The service pack information below only applies to the 32-bit versions of Xp. The 64-bit versions were based on the 64 bit version of Windows Server 2003 and use the same updates as that operating system.
Service Pack 1Edit
Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Windows XP (September 9, 2002) introduced the following features and upgrades:
- Post-RTM security fixes and hot-fixes, and compatibility updates.
- .NET Framework support
- Tablet PC support
- Windows Messenger 4.7 version.
- USB 2.0 support
- Set Program Access and Defaults utility.
- Support for SATA and hard drives that were larger than 137 GB (48-bit LBA support)
- Microsoft Java Virtual Machine
- IPv6 support.
Service Pack 2Edit
Service Pack 2 (SP2) was released on August 25, 2004, with the following features:
- WPA encryption compatibility and improved Wi-Fi support (with a wizard utility)
- Pop-up ad blocker for Internet Explorer 6
- Partial Bluetooth
- Loading screens in all versions of Windows XP now resemble the Windows Professional boot screen.
- Windows Firewall
- Data Execution Prevention hardware support.
- Windows Security Center
Service Pack 2bEdit
Released August 2006, in response to a lawsuit by Folas over a patent (the patent was later bought out by Microsoft, making this update irrelevant)
- ActiveX controls require manual activation.
Service Pack 2cEdit
Released September 2007 for system builders of Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Professional N operating systems:
- Fixes issues involving product activation key availability.
Service Pack 3Edit
Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) was released May 6, 2008, with the following features:
New features in Service Pack 3Edit
- NX APIs for application developers to enable Data Execution Prevention for their code, independent of system-wide compatibility enforcement settings
- black hole router detection defaults to on.
- Support for SHA-2 signatures in X.509 certificates.
- Network Access Protection client
- Group Policy support for IEEE 802.1X authentication for wired network adapters.
- Credential Security Support Provider
- Descriptive Security options in Group Policy/Local Security Policy user interface
- An updated version of the Microsoft Enhanced Cryptographic Provider Module (RSAENH) that is FIPS 140-2 certified (SHA-256, SHA-384 and SHA-512 algorithms)
- Installing without requiring a product key during setup for retail and OEM versions
- Numerous security and stability fixes.
Service Pack 3 also included the previous updates that were available separately from Windows Update:
- Windows Imaging Component
- IPSec Simple Policy Update for simplified creation and maintenance of IPSec filters.
- Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) 2.5
- MSXML 6.0 SP2 and XMLLite
- Microsoft Management Console 3.0
- Credential Roaming service (Digital Identity Management Service) update
- Remote Desktop Protocol 6.1
- Peer Name Resolution Protocol 2.1
- Network Diagnostics update
- WPA2 Update (KB893357)
- Windows Script 5.7
- Windows Installer 3.1 v2
- Wireless LAN API
- Improvements made to Windows Management Instrumentation in Windows Vista to reduce the possibility of corruption of the WMI repository.
Retail/OEM copies of Windows that have been Slipstreamed with Service Pack 3 can be installed and run normally for 30 days with a product key, and once that time is up the user will be obligated to provide a product key and activate it via phone or the Internet by Microsoft
Service Pack 3 requires a previous service pack be installed, despite being a compilation of the previous service packs.
For legal reasons, the Address Bar DeskBand and the Energy Star logo on the screen saver tab was removed by SP3.
System requirements for Windows XP Home Edition and Professional are as follows:
- Processor: 233 Mhz Pentium (300 MHz recommended)
- Memory: 64 MB (128 recommended)
- Video: Super VGA at (800 x 600) or higher resolution
- Hard Drive Space: 1.5 GB (2.2 GB with Service Pack 1, 3.5 GB with Service Pack 2, and 2.8 GB for Service Pack 3)
- Disk Drive: CD Drive (if installing from CD); Floppy Drive (optional)
- Input Devices: Keyboard, Mouse
- Sound: Sound card and Speakers or headphones
System requirements for Windows XP Professional x64 Edition are as follows:
- Processor: x86-64 processor (AMD or Intel)
- Memory: 256 MB of RAM or more
- Video adapter and monitor: Super VGA (800 x 600) or higher resolution;
Hard Drive Space: 1.5 GB (2.2 GB with Service Pack 1, 3.5 GB with Service Pack 2, and 2.8 GB for Service Pack 3)
- Disk Drives: CD-ROM drive, Floppy Drive (optional)
- Input devices: Keyboard; Mouse
- Sound: Sound card; Speakers or headphones;
- 64-bit Windows XP Professional Drivers for all applicable components.
System requirements for Windows XP 64-Bit (Itanium) Edition are as follows:
- Processor: Intel Itanium 733 MHz (Recommended Itanium 800 MHz or more);
- Memory: At least 1 GB of RAM or more
- Video adapter and monitor: Super VGA (800 x 600) or higher resolution;
- Hard drive disk free space: At least 6 GB
- Disk drives: CD-ROM drive, Floppy Drive (optional)
- Input devices: Keyboard; Mouse
- Sound: Sound card; Speakers or headphones;
- Windows XP 64-Bit (Itanium) for all applicable components.
Physical memory limitsEdit
The RAM (physical memory) address limit of Windows XP varies depending on the version of Windows XP:
- Windows XP Home/Professional/Media Center/Tablet Edition (32-bit): 4 GB
- Windows XP Home/Professional/Media Center/Tablet Edition (64-bit]]: 128 GB
- Windows XP Starter Edition 512 MB
Gallery of Windows XP ScreenshotsEdit
- Windows XP (no Service Packs installed): Ended September 30, 2004.
- Windows XP (Service Pack 1/1a installed): Ended October 10, 2006.
- Windows XP (Service Pack 2 installed): Ended July 13, 2010.
- Windows XP (Service Pack 3 installed): Will end April 8, 2014.
- General licensing of OEM versions of Windows XP ended on June 30, 2008, except for ultra low-cost PCs (ULCPCs) which ended October 22, 2010.
- Windows XP (all versions) moved from Mainstream Support to Extended Support on April 14, 2009. Security updates will continue to be provided until April 8, 2014, but tech support, warranties, and other services are no longer provided.
- Windows 7 users (with a volume license) can downgrade to Windows XP (as of July 2010), but the end of support for Windows XP still applies, though downgrade support is still available until all support for Windows 7 ends.
License and media typesEdit
There are three main types of Windows XP licenses:
- Volume License Key (VLK),
- Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)
All are available for:
- Windows XP Professional (32-bit and 64-bit)
- Windows XP Home Edition: Retail and OEM only.
- Windows XP Media Center Edition: VLK/OEM only.
- Windows XP Tablet PC Edition: VLK/OEM only.
These come in two varieties:
Upgrade: User has a previous version of Windows, like Windows 2000 or Windows 98. The installion media is required during setup to verify the user has a previous version of Windows (it does not need to be installed).
Once this is verified, the installation will set up a full copu of Windows XP.
Full: Does not require a previous version of Windows.
Both licenses are transferable to other users.
A VLK license copy of Windows XP is sold directly to business via Microsoft and come with VLK keys that bypass the need for product activation.
These keys were leaked onto the Internet early into XP's lifecycle and led to widespread piracy, which caused Microsoft to implement measures in Service Pack 1 to blacklist known pirated VLK keys, and Microsoft later created the Windows Genuine Advantage program as a more permanent solution.
An OEM licensed version of Windows XP is included with pre assembled computers. The two varieties are:
- Direct: Major brand names (Like Dell or Hewlett Packard) who make pre assembled computers who contract with Microsoft for a customized duplicate of Microsoft operating system media. These types generally have Windows "preactivated" (does not need product validation after installed)
- Generic: Individual businesses that do the same.These usually are preactivated, but not always.
OEM computers do not always come with the installation CD, but they may come with a recovery partition (a section of the hard drive with a backup factory install of the OS), or may include a utility on the OEM computer to make a backup with appropriate backup media (like a CD or DVD).
OEM licenses are not transferable (the computer and/or the installation media cannot change from one user to another) under most circumstances, unless Microsoft allows an exception.
Non-use by end userEdit
In the event that an end user decides that they do not wish to use a preinstalled version of Windows, Microsoft's End User License Agreement (EULA) provides that the software may be returned to the OEM for a refund. Despite refusal of some manufacturers to honor the entitlement, it has been enforced by courts in some countries.
- Microsoft Windows XP Home Page
- Windows XP Help & How-to
- Microsoft Windows XP Reviewers Guide - August 2001 (PDF format)
- Windows XP Memory Limits
- Windows XP Service Pack 3 Network Installation Package for IT Professionals and Developers (Full Offline Installer)
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