The Top Five New Features in Windows XP

Well Windows XP was released in 2001 and I did not know much about it at the time of its launch.  I admit when it was first released it felt like a glorified service pack for Windows 2000.  While Windows 2000 is its ancestor, Windows ME was its spiritual ancestor.  But it did feel like they simply took all the features of Windows ME and shoved them into 2000 and tweaked it a bit.  While it is true that Microsoft took and joined its home and professional lines to create one Windows desktop version, there was more to Windows XP.  It would become one of the most used operating systems of its day.  So I have gone back and created a list of the top five new features in Windows XP.  Let’s revisit them.

1.  The Luna theme, for the first time in a long time Windows was not a drab gray color.   The interface seemed more warm and welcoming, it was a nice change.  One that I wanted when I first saw it.  Now is was also nicknamed the Fisher-Price theme and Windows was even called Windows XP Fisher-Price Edition, but it was a nice improvement.  It started people skinning Windows by hacking files as well, It actually inspired and made people ask What If? Could I make Windows look like…?  I have to admit it, it really was a good change.

The Blue Luna Theme in Windows XP

The Blue Luna Theme in Windows XP

2. Windows Media Center, while it was not released with Windows XP at first and was never offered as an update, it was a neat thing you could do.  Use your computer to record TV.  It offered a media driven hub for people and even was imitated in some forms so others that did not have the Media Center version of XP could enjoy it, and was also imitated on Linux.  For some, their computer became their DVR (Digital Video Recorder).

Windows XP Media Center

Windows XP Media Center

3. Fast User Switching and Local Users, While local users were not exactly a new feature they were so greatly improved and finally brought to the home computer.  This changed a lot of things for home consumers.  Finally, parents could have an account for their kids  to mess in while their background and icons never changed.  But the nice feature here was the fact that you did not have to log someone out to use your account, you could switch them.

Users Control Pannel Applet

Users Control panel Applet

Fast user switching made sharing the computer in a household very easy.  Remember too that Windows XP was released in a time where there was usually was only one computer in a house.  It would not be till years later that computers would come down in price and we would see almost as many computers in a house as tvs.  The Fast User Switching was not only needed, it was a good move.

Fast User Switching Option

Fast User Switching Option

4. Windows Firewall was originally called the Internet Connection Firewall until Service Pack 2 was released with a revamped version of the firewall that was enabled by default, unlike the earlier version.   Microsoft did this after so many computers were getting infected with viruses and spyware.  the Windows Firewall helped a lot and provided those who could not afford to buy a firewall for their computer some protection.

The Windows Firewall in Windows XP

The Windows Firewall in Windows XP

5. The Compatibility Tab was a great help.  Most home users were using Windows 98 or Me which ran on top of DOS.  The programs made for these DOS-based Windows versions often times were not compatible with Windows 2000.  In XP Microsoft fixed a lot of the problems with the Compatibility Tab.  Accessible by right clicking on the program and clicking on Properties, this would help the adoption of XP.

The Compatibility Tab

The Compatibility Tab

Windows XP was a good and logical evolution of the Windows product line.  It did have a few new features but it really improved on a lot of old ones and these top five new features in Windows XP really helped to make Windows a better operating system.  It is almost 12 years old now and really is past its prime.  If you’re running XP I suggest looking at Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, they run better on slower computers than Vista.

You can also check out my list of top Six new features in Windows Vista

Also for a blast from the past the Top Five New Features in Windows ME

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