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<A Look at Windows XP Service Pack 3 - Part 2: Missing Vista ⁄ >

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In Part 1 of my examination of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3), I rhetorically asked whether XP was still "good enough" given the many advantages of its successor, Windows Vista. In many ways, this argument will soon be rendered moot: Beginning on July 1, it won't be possible to even purchase XP through normal means or acquire the aging OS with a new PC. (For the most part, that is: You will still be able to acquire Windows XP Home Edition with so-called Ultra-Low-Cost PCs, or ULCPCs.)

But to answer my own rhetorical question, yes, XP is good enough, although I'd attach some caveats to that statement. For example, Windows XP is good enough ... if you're using an older PC and can't upgrade it to support what I feel are Vista's minimum real world requirements: A dual-core CPU or better, 2 GB of RAM, and an Aero-capable 3D video chipset. XP is good enough ... if you have very basic needs. XP is good enough ... if you're going to be buying a new PC in the next year and will simply upgrade to Vista at that time. XP is good enough if you know what you're doing when it comes to security--and I mean really know what you're doing--and aren't prone to click on spurious links online or visit the wrong kinds of Web sites. And XP is good enough ... if you don't mind spending a lot of time tweaking your system. And then redoing it all over again because, with XP, you simply have to periodically reinstall the OS to gain lost performance.

So yeah, it's good enough. But that doesn't mean it's great. Or optimal.

For this second part of my last look at Windows XP, I've done something I thought I'd never do again: I've installed Windows XP (with Service Pack 3, of course) on a few different computers and used it every day. I can't claim to have used XP exclusively during this time, however: I'm firmly committed to Windows Vista and still feel that it offers many obvious advantages over XP. But it's been interesting and instructive to install and use XP again. And while I appreciate the "old sweatshirt" aspect of XP as described in Part 1, I feel it's only fair to admit that I haven't personally found anything particularly compelling about using Microsoft's previous OS today. The world has moved on, and I've moved on with it. I just expect more from my PC now. I suspect you do too.

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