Better device support is just one improvement

Although controversy still surrounds Windows XP's Windows Product Activation (WPA), a migration from Windows 2000 to XP is a smart idea for many reasons. Here are the top 10 reasons you should migrate your users.

10. Improved interface—XP's UI is more interactive and user-friendly than Win2K's UI. Your users can perform common tasks more easily, and the UI provides helpful feedback about their actions. If necessary, users can switch to the "classic" Win2K interface.

9. Faster startup—XP boots much more quickly than Win2K (34 percent faster) and Windows Me (9 percent faster). On laptops, the new OS restarts after hibernation more quickly (9 percent faster than Win2K and 13 percent faster than Windows Me).

8. Improved device support—Win2K's device support has always taken a back seat to that of Windows 9x. XP marks the end of the Windows 9x product line, prompting device vendors to provide their best efforts for the XP platform. Out of the box, XP supports hundreds of Plug and Play (PnP) devices that Win2K doesn't support. XP also supports current hardware technologies such as ATA-100, DVD-RAM, and IEEE 1394.

7. Integrated videoconferencing support—Windows Messenger provides built-in support for video- and audio-conferencing, as well as instant messaging. An improved audio codec, lighter-weight Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and acoustic echo cancellation provide a noticeably better videoconferencing experience than NetMeeting does under Win2K.

6. New Network Diagnostics tool—XP's Network Diagnostics tool queries the current status of users' network services. It captures system information (e.g., system name, boot type, available RAM, network status) in a file that users can email to the Help desk. To start Network Diagnostics, go to Start, Control Panel, Network and Internet Connections, Network Diagnostics, Scan your system.

5. Device Driver Rollback—Should one of your users install a bad device driver, you can use the Device Driver Rollback utility to replace the new driver with a previously installed version. To use Device Driver Rollback, open Device Manager, right-click the affected device, and select Properties. To restore the original device driver, go to the Driver tab and click Roll Back Driver.

4. Built-in remote control—Remote Desktop lets you use terminal services technology to control a target XP system from a remote system. You can use Remote Desktop to connect to your work system from home or to let multiple users remotely share a system. To enable the Remote Desktop feature, go to Start, Control Panel, Performance and Maintenance, System Remote and click Enable Remote Desktop.

3. Automatic recognition of wireless networks—This feature lets XP scan for wireless networks and automatically configure a wireless 802.11 NIC to connect to the discovered network. This feature is particularly useful for connecting business travelers to public Access Points (APs).

2. Support for multiple network configurations—Network Location Awareness (NLA) lets users move their notebooks between different wired and wireless networks while XP automatically—and without user intervention—switches to the correct networking configuration.

1. System Restore—This feature has firmly convinced me that XP is a worthwhile upgrade. After I installed Roxio's Easy CD Creator for Win2K (which XP didn't support at the time), I discovered that both of the system's CD-ROM drives were disabled. Uninstalling the software didn't fix the problem. I hadn't created an Emergency Repair Disk (ERD) for that system, so I feared that a lengthy reinstallation was in my future. Fortunately, System Restore had automatically logged the application installation, letting me revert to my earlier configuration with one click.