Windows XP vs. 2000
Tuesday, June 14 2005
I've been using Windows XP on my main computer now for over a month, after having used Windows 2000 since some time in the year 2000. In general it runs okay, and I like some of the improvements, but I can't say I'm entirely happy with it. I run it in classic mode and keep all the fancy visual effects turned off because such things make for pathetic entertainment while providing little else. I've also turned off all the things that patronize nearly all Windows XP users: category-based control panels, filename extension hiding, the unhelpfully unstrangleable dog avatar in search mode, "unused icon" hiding, and the awful Windows XP default start menu. Set up this way, it ends up being a lot like Windows 2000, with the most obvious difference being that windows in the taskbar are consolidated into groups, a feature I am now familiar with and find helpful.
Unfortunately, though, I'm finding Windows XP is not nearly as reliable as Windows 2000. Back when I ran Windows 2000, my computer never rebooted unless there was a power outage or I'd just installed some reboot-requiring hardware. The computer never had problems that required a reboot. With Windows XP, though, I find myself occasionally rebooting to get out of trouble, something I haven't had to do since my short-lived experience with Windows ME in the summer of 2000. I've noticed, for example, that sometimes my scanner mysteriously loses its ability to communicate with my computer, and it stays that way until I reboot. Also, sometimes I'll go to open a folder (usually on a removable CompactFlash device) and Explorer will hang in a way that cannot be killed with the Task Manager. I'd always thought that in the Windows paradigm there was no process that could survive End Task, but that paradigm is broken by the Explorer in Windows XP. The only way to kill it when it hangs badly is to reboot the machine.
There's one other bit of unreliability with Windows XP that drives me crazy. Sometimes devices in the device manager spontaneously lose their drivers and become inoperative. I've seen this happen with a webcam on my main machine, with a USB mouse on the basement guest room computer (it sure sucks to lose the mouse!), and with a USB cable modem on a client's computer (requiring a housecall). There's absolutely no excuse for this!
For now, these problems are infrequent enough that I can live with them. But if I were to build a Windows computer from scratch for myself knowing what I know now, it would be a Windows 2000 machine. Evidently I'm not the only one enamored with increasingly obsolete Windows technology; supposedly half of all business computers still run Windows 2000. Why mess with success? (The only reason I'm running Windows XP was because of a problem with hard drive disk drivers.)
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