Have you ever been XPerienced?

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  • JonMarsh
    Mad Max Moderator
    • Aug 2000
    • 15214

    Have you ever been XPerienced?

    OK, boys and girls, finally freed up a little bit of time last night and installed XP Professional Beta 2 on the desktop to evaluate and play with it. After all, I didn't want to mess up a mission critical Home Theater PC!

    Should you consider doing something like this at home yourself, be sure you check your hardware configuration and Microsoft's HCL, to make sure you don't have compatibility issues. I printed it out a couple of weeks ago when I was in a masochistic mood; it's pretty think, so if you have a moderately late model PC, you probably won't have any problems. The trick is to be recent enough that it's performance is "contemporary, but not so new that widespread driver support doesn't exist. It's a smart idea to make sure your hardware has WIN2000 driver support, and have the disks available. If it won't run under WIN2K, probably it won't under XP, since the kernel of the latter is derived from the former.
    BTW, XP requires 1 GB of HD space to install....
    no, that's not a typo.

    For the record, Test PC hardware configuration:

    ASUS K7M Motherboard, with Slot A Athlon 600
    256 MB SDRAM (PC133, but who's counting?)
    ATE Radeon VE
    Maxtor 20GB HD
    Adaptec 2940 SCSI adapter
    Sony Spressa SCSI Burner
    Sony 8X DVDROM
    Creative Labs Modem Blaster

    The installation offers you different options; in this case I selected to upgrade over the existing WIN98 install, which promises to keep your existing program settings. At the very start, a compatibility check is performed, and a report created which you can save anywhere you want (your external MO drive, as in my case). It highlights any detected compatibility issues with software or hardware. Didn't like my WINDVD player, or the Adobe Acrobat (which is installed as printer, so treated like hardware), and there were a few other potential gotcha's, but no show stoppers, so, "To Infineon, and beyoond!".

    The head of Infineon development in Munich has a favorite saying that he is well known for, for a long, long time. It goes "Slow work takes time".

    Installing XP is slow work, and it takes time, about double the length of any other windows installation. The upside is that you don't have to do hardly anything yourself. Much of the time is used during the dynamic update process, in which the system successively boots and reboots, modifying and updating the software configuration and making the conversion. This obviously wouldn't occur on a fresh install. Only once did I come up with a BSOD, and even then it said, "If this is the first time you've seen this error message, try powering off and rebooting to continue installation." There were also warnings that if you had new hardware recently installed you might want to remove it to go back to a simpler configuration. Everything proceeded OK just be powering down once and resstarting.

    XP actually converts your system to dual boot during the install- you have the option to select (if you're fast) between booting to Microsoft Windows or Windows WHistler Setup.

    After many, many restarts, it goes through a process of finishing copying files, then several more restarts which obviously include new video drivers back up to the normal screen resolution (it handled my ATI Radeon without problems), and then setting up the start and program menues, and all the user stuff. No intervention required by user.

    At the last restart, you'll be prompted to setup user accounts (just my daughter and I for this machine), then it prompts you for doing product activation now or to remind you in the next few days. In the final version, product activation can be done by phone or over the internet; for Beta's and the release candidate versions, it must be done online.

    Didn't have a lot of time to play with it- yes, it's colorful, organized very differently (though an option for appearance to revert to "Windows Classic" is inlcuded for the luddites among us- you know who you are ). It's smart enough to look in "My Pictures" for pictures to use for screen backgrounds. The Start menu is more task oriented, but it's easy to add the program menu to the standard toolbar- it's quite customizable. I'm a diehard Explorer fan, so using Windows in the single pane format isn't what comes natural to me, but there are tons of right click options, and new ways for getting things done.

    What about media? Media Player 8 is the big news, and is to Windows XP what IE was to Windows 95 and WIN NT. It has a lot of different audio capbilities, including burning CD's, but it's setup to support digital rights controls, and has very limited MP3 support; Microsoft, as usual, is pushing their own format.

    The Media Player 8 will support DVD fully in the shipping version; in the beta, there's no DVD codec installed. However, the OS is so modular, it's easy to remedy that problem. Because my install of WINDVD used Directshow for WIN98, it wasn't in running condition for XP. However, I installed my Evaluation version of CoolSoft DVD (new company from Korea), which ran fine, up to the five minutes it times out at. This provided a DVD codec for the system. Then, using the file menu, I could select play CD Audio or DVD. At which point, DVD starts up just fine.

    Only a brief, non rigorous eval of quality was done- and keep in mind, this is using the CoolSoft codec, so it's not representative of anything- except, it did playback nice, the audio seemed quite reasonable, and detail, scaled up to 1280X1024 on the flat panel, was quite good. Controls are kind of dumbed down- it is possible to go full screen, but you have to hunt for it- reuqires a right click properties menu.
    DVD playback was so good that I got sucked into Supernova and watched the first 45 minutes before I realized I was up way past my planned bedtime (remember, I commute to silicon valley at an ungodly hour of the morning.)

    No video controls were evident, not even brightness and contrast. Obviously, is not a plus, but image quality on the brief viewing, which included dark scenes, was quite good. When I have more time to evaulate, I'll post further impressions.

    Of course, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to install other players, so I will see if the ATI 4.1 player installs and works properly, and how or if that interacts with the Media 8 Player.

    All in all, interesting, and the most significant change in user interface since WIN 3.1. The underlying code, which we don't see, is based on WIN2K, but there are all kinds of compatibility enhancmenets and modes for running older programs written for WIN95 and WIN98. If this didn't have the product activation B$, I'd probably be inclined to give it a strong preliminary endorsement.

    Best regards,

    Jon




    Earth First!
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  • ThomasW
    Moderator Emeritus
    • Aug 2000
    • 10934

    #2
    Well I too an getting eXPerienced

    Only significant issue is that XP won't find my USB modem or satellite modem so I'm stuck surfing via a landline




    theAudioWorx
    Klone-Audio

    IB subwoofer FAQ page


    "Complicated equipment and light reflectors and various other items of hardware are enough, to my mind, to prevent the birdie from coming out." ...... Henri Cartier-Bresson

    Comment

    • SiliGoose
      Senior Member
      • Aug 2000
      • 942

      #3
      I just received my XP eval disc in the mail today. I was planning on partitioning my HD before installing...is this necessary considering it sets up a dual boot system anyway? Will the automatic dual-boot set-up recognize the new partition?

      Thanks,




      -Sili
      www.campmurphy.net

      Comment

      • ThomasW
        Moderator Emeritus
        • Aug 2000
        • 10934

        #4
        It automatically sets up a dual boot system, if you tell it to save the old set up.

        I just did straight upgrade over Win98SE.




        theAudioWorx
        Klone-Audio

        IB subwoofer FAQ page


        "Complicated equipment and light reflectors and various other items of hardware are enough, to my mind, to prevent the birdie from coming out." ...... Henri Cartier-Bresson

        Comment

        • JonMarsh
          Mad Max Moderator
          • Aug 2000
          • 15214

          #5
          More comments and XPeriences to relate....


          DVD Players:

          It hasn't been possible yet to install the ATI player successfully with the Radeon VE drivers supplied with WIN XP. Actually, it installs, but then when you run it, it doesn't recognize that there is a Radeon board present- refuses to start up, shuts back down.

          Windows Media Player continues to work well using the codec installed from my CoolSOFT DVD Eval player. Found the video controls, for brightness, hue, contrast, etc., but they don't work, probably because they will interface to the customized Cinemaster engine, which isn't present. However, DVD playback in a window or full screen has been quite good, no stutters or glitches; sound perhaps not quite as good as the ATI player, but I've only been listening with my megabuck Sony headphones- they may be a little less forgiving than the speakers.

          Display quality is quite good, particularly with some of the new technologies; including "Open Type", which allows Windows to directly support both True Type and Post script fons without a seperate rasterizer for Postscritpt, and "Clear Type", which is a change to higher resolution anti-aliasing technology for font smoothing. It is reportedly particularly intended to improve the image quality with small font sizes on LCD displays; it definitely works; my NEC LCD1810 has the smoothness and clarity under XP which formerly took running at 1600X1200 on a CRT. Interesting. Not sure how it works, but it does.

          Last, the system has been a little glitchy, but this may be the HD dying- because sometimes in rebooting it hasn't recognized the hard disk- had another Maxtor drive die this way in January- and it has had some disk errors. Impressively, XP has detected errors and done extensive error correction work to the file system, starting back up and running smoothly after each "glitch". The disk checkout and diagnostic after a "crash" type shutdown seems to be much more extensive and thorough than for 98SE or ME.

          It lost my internet settings in the install for XP, but I found my files with documentation of the manual modificaitons I had to make for the new network, and manually updated those and I'm back on line, and was able to "Activate" XP.

          Additionally, because I installed XP, changin the OS, my Office XP beta wanted new stuff installed and insisted on being re-activitated. You know, it could be a REAL pain in the rump if this activation crap caught on with other vendors. Can you imaging making a system change, and having to re-activate three DTP programs, two math programs, a PCB CAD suite, two office suites, three circuit simulation programs, and more flight simulators than any single sane person ought to own?

          Regards,

          Jon




          Earth First!
          _______________________________
          We'll screw up the other planets later....
          the AudioWorx
          Natalie P
          M8ta
          Modula Neo DCC
          Modula MT XE
          Modula Xtreme
          Isiris
          Wavecor Ardent

          SMJ
          Minerva Monitor
          Calliope
          Ardent D

          In Development...
          Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
          Obi-Wan
          Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
          Modula PWB
          Calliope CC Supreme
          Natalie P Ultra
          Natalie P Supreme
          Janus BP1 Sub


          Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
          Just ask Mr. Ohm....

          Comment

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