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Windows XP


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Information about Microsoft Windows XP

Windows XP is a line of operating systems produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, notebook computers, and media centers. The name "XP" is short for "experience". Windows XP is the successor to both Windows 2000 (17 years ago) Professional and Windows Me, and is the first consumer-oriented operating system produced by Microsoft to be built on the Windows NT kernel and architecture. Windows XP was first released on 25 Oct. 2001 (16 years ago), and over 400 million copies were in use in Jan. 2006 (11 years ago), according to an estimate in that month by an IDC analyst. It was succeeded by Windows Vista, which was released to volume license customers on 8 Nov. 2006 (11 years ago), and worldwide to the general public on 30 Jan. 2007 (10 years ago). Direct OEM and retail sales of Windows XP ceased on 30 Jun. 2008 (9 years ago). Microsoft continued to sell XP through their System Builder Channel (smaller OEMs who sell assembled computers) until Jan. 31, 2009 (8 years ago). XP may continue to be available as these sources run through their inventory or by purchasing Windows Vista Ultimate or Business and then downgrading to Windows XP.

The most common editions of the operating system are Windows XP Home Edition, which is targeted at home users, and Windows XP Professional, which offers additional features such as support for Windows Server domains and two physical processors, and is targeted at power users, business and enterprise clients. Windows XP Media Center Edition has additional multimedia features enhancing the ability to record and watch TV shows, view DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) movies, and listen to music. Windows XP Tablet PC Edition is designed to run stylus applications built using the Tablet PC platform. Windows XP was eventually released for two additional architectures, Windows XP 64-bit Edition for IA-64 (Itanium) processors and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition for x86-64. There is also Windows XP Embedded, a component version of the Windows XP Professional, and editions for specific markets such as Windows XP Starter Edition.

The NT-based versions of Windows are known for their improved stability and efficiency over the 9x versions of Microsoft Windows. Windows XP presents a significantly redesigned graphical user interface, a change Microsoft promoted as more user-friendly than previous versions of Windows. A new software management facility called Side-by-Side Assembly was introduced to ameliorate the "DLL hell" that plagues 9x versions of Windows. It is also the first version of Windows to use product activation to combat illegal copying, a restriction that did not sit well with some users and privacy advocates. Windows XP has also been criticized by some users for security vulnerabilities, tight integration of applications such as Internet Explorer 6 and Windows Media Player, and for aspects of its default user interface. Later versions with Service Pack 2, Service Pack 3, and Internet Explorer 8 addressed some of these concerns.

During development, the project was codenamed "Whistler", after Whistler, British Columbia, as many Microsoft employees skied at the Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort.

As of the end of Jun. 2009 (8 years ago), Windows XP is the most widely used operating system in the world with a 66.9% market share, having peaked at 76.1% in Jan. 2007 (10 years ago). According to a Net Applications report, the Windows XP market share peaked as high as 85.3% in dec. 2006 (11 years ago).

User interface

Windows XP features a new task-based graphical user interface. The Start menu and search capability were redesigned and many visual effects were added, including:
A translucent blue selection rectangle in 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
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 (17 years ago) had shadows under mouse pointers, but not menus)

Windows XP analyzes the performance impact of visual effects and uses this to determine whether to enable them, so as to prevent the new functionality from consuming excessive additional processing overhead. Users can further customize these settings. Some effects, such as alpha blending (transparency and fading), are handled entirely by many newer video cards. However, if the video card is not capable of hardware alpha blending, performance can be substantially hurt, and Microsoft recommends the feature should be turned off manually. Windows XP adds the ability for Windows to use "Visual Styles" to change the user interface. However, visual styles must be cryptographically signed by Microsoft to run. Luna is the name of the new visual style that ships with Windows XP, and is enabled by default for machines with more than 64 MiB of video RAM. Luna refers only to one particular visual style, not to all of the new user interface features of Windows XP as a whole. Some users "patch" the uxtheme.dll file that restricts the ability to use visual styles, created by the general public or the user, on Windows XP.

In addition to the included Windows XP themes, there is one previously unreleased theme with a dark blue taskbar and window bars similar to Windows Vista titled "Royale Noir" available for download, albeit unofficially. Microsoft officially released a modified version of this theme as the "Zune" theme, to celebrate the launch of its Zune portable media player in Nov. 2006 (11 years ago). The differences are only visual with a new glassy look along with a black taskbar instead of dark blue and an orange start button instead of green. Additionally, the Media Center "Royale" theme, which was included in the Media Center editions, is also available to download for use on all Windows XP editions.

The default wallpaper, Bliss, is a BMP photograph of a landscape in the Napa Valley outside Napa, California, with rolling green hills and a blue sky with stratocumulus and cirrus clouds.

The Windows 2000 (17 years ago) "classic" interface can be used instead if preferred. Several third party utilities exist that provide hundreds of different visual styles. Microsoft licensed technology from WindowBlinds creator Stardock to create its visual styles in XP.

Editions

Diagram representing the main editions of Windows XP. It is based on the category of the edition (grey) and codebase (black arrow).The two major editions are Windows XP Home Edition, designed for home users, and Windows XP Professional, designed for business and power-users. XP Professional contains advanced features that the average home user would not use. However, these features are not necessarily missing from XP Home. They are simply disabled, but are there and can become functional. These releases were made available at retail outlets that sell computer software, and were preinstalled on computers sold by major computer manufacturers. As of mid-2008, both editions continue to be sold. A third edition, called Windows XP Media Center Edition was introduced in 2002 (15 years ago) and was updated every year until 2006 (11 years ago) to incorporate new digital media, broadcast TV and Media Center Extender capabilities. Unlike the Home and Professional edition, it was never made available for retail purchase, and was typically either sold through OEM channels, or was preinstalled on computers that were typically marketed as "media center PCs".

Two different 64-bit editions were made available, one designed specifically for Itanium-based workstations, which was introduced in 2001 (16 years ago) around the same time as the Home and Professional editions, but was discontinued a few years later when vendors of Itanium hardware stopped selling workstation-class machines due to low sales. The other, called Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, supports the x86-64 extension of the Intel IA-32 architecture. x86-64 is implemented by AMD as "AMD64", found in AMD's Opteron and Athlon 64 chips, and implemented by Intel as "Intel 64" (formerly known as IA-32e and EM64T), found in Intel's Pentium 4 and later chips.

Windows XP Tablet PC Edition was produced for a class of specially designed notebook/laptop computers called tablet PCs. It is compatible with a pen-sensitive screen, supporting handwritten notes and portrait-oriented screens.

Internet Explorer 6 running in Windows XP Tablet PC Edition.Microsoft also released Windows XP Embedded, an edition for specific consumer electronics, set-top boxes, kiosks/ATMs, medical devices, arcade video games, point-of-sale terminals, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) components. In Jul. 2006 (11 years ago), Microsoft released Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs, a thin client version of Windows XP Embedded which targets older machines (as early as the original Pentium). It is only available to Software Assurance customers. It is intended for corporate customers who would like to upgrade to Windows XP to take advantage of its security and management capabilities, but can't afford to purchase new hardware.

Source: en.wikipedia.org


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