An Overview of Windows XP – CompTIA A+ 220-802: 1.1

Windows XP has been one of the most popular operating systems of all time. In this video, you’ll learn about the different Windows XP editions and the requirements for installing Windows XP.

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Although Windows XP was introduced in 2002 and retail sales for Windows XP stopped in 2008, there is still an enormous install base of Windows XP still running today. We estimate that probably over 500 million licenses of Windows XP were purchased, so it’s important that you understand the different versions of Windows XP and what those minimum and recommended requirements might be.

If you’re running Windows XP in your home, you’re probably using the edition called Windows XP Home Edition. It’s a version that was created specifically for home use, and it did not have a lot of the more advanced capabilities that were required for running a Windows operating system in a business environment.

Windows XP Professional was the version that was specifically targeted for business environments. That was the version that added capabilities that you normally wouldn’t need in a home environment. An example of some of these features might be things like Remote Desktop. If you’re running Windows XP Professional, you can enable that to be a remote desktop server so that you could go home from your operating system at home and directly connect to a remote desktop session on your Windows XP Professional machine.

Other features that would really be focused on a business are things like using offline files and folders or having multiple processors inside of your computer that the operating system can take advantage of. Another Windows XP Professional feature is the ability to encrypt files if you’re using an NTFS partition.

Another edition of Windows XP that was perhaps not as widely used but still an important edition is the Windows XP Media Center Edition. This was the idea of taking your computer and blending it together with your television and entertainment system. So you really needed a lot of disk space, a lot of processing power for this edition, because you were recording television. You were recording video to disk, and you also had, of course, connectivity to the internet. And that blending of those technologies required a lot of computing power.

Higher end computing environments really started to see more 64-bit processing take place, so an edition of Windows XP was created called the 64-bit Professional version. This was one that allowed you to use all of the capabilities of a 64-bit CPU. So now you’re able to use additional memory and have additional computing power that you normally would not have available in a 32-bit version.

For higher end computing environments, an edition of Windows XP was created specifically for processors that were 64-bit. This was the Windows XP 64-bit Professional. And if you needed additional capabilities, additional computing power, this was the edition for you. For example, Windows XP 32-bit Edition allowed for a maximum of 4 gigabytes of memory to be used in a computer, but in a Windows XP 64-bit version, you could have up to 128 gigabytes of physical memory that you could use. So some significant differences when working with applications that could really take advantage of those 64-bit platforms.

If you look at the minimum and recommended requirements for installing Windows XP, you’ll see that the requirements don’t seem to be very much by today’s standards. But back in 2002, this was a higher end system. We needed for a Windows XP Home and Professional, a minimum requirement of a 233 megahertz processor, although Microsoft recommended that you have at least a 300 megahertz processor or higher. You would also need a minimum of 64 megabytes of RAM, although Microsoft would like you to double that at a minimum to 128 megabytes of RAM.

The rest of the requirements are identical, whether you’re referring to the minimum requirements or the recommended requirements for Windows XP. The amount of free disk space that you would need for the installation and the use of the operating system is 1.5 gigabytes. You would need a CD-ROM or DVD ROM drive, ideally, to install the installation media. The size of the video resolution is not very big. Windows XP only requires an 800 by 600 pixels to be able to use the operating system, and to be able to install and use Windows XP, you have to have both a mouse and a keyboard to use as input devices.

As we mentioned earlier, the Media Center version of Windows XP has a completely different set of requirements. You’re dealing with grabbing video from a video tuner and storing it onto large hard drives, and that a lot of memory. It requires a lot of storage space. And so, the requirements for Media Center will be very, very different than the XP that you might run at home or in your business,

Here’s an example of this. The processor CPU that’s minimum for Windows XP Media Center is a 1.6 gigahertz processor. That’s very different than the standard installation of Windows XP Professional, for instance, and you can max it out at two physical CPUs.

From a memory perspective, the minimum that Microsoft requires is 256 megabytes of RAM, but you would do well to have more. You can max out the Media Center Edition at 4 gigabytes of RAM.

Free disk space, you would need about 60 gigabytes, but if you’re storing video, you’re going to need a lot of hard drive space, and Windows XP Media Center Edition will support up to 256 terabytes of storage. You, of course need a DVD ROM drive to install this version onto your computer, and you can see even the resolutions are different, a 1024 by 768 at a minimum, but obviously for video, you want as high a resolution as possible.

And of course, you need a mouse and keyboard to install Windows, but if you are using the Media Center Edition, you’re usually sitting on a couch. You’ll need a remote control to use as that input device, and generally, you would need four separate tuner cards installed into a Media Center computer to really max it out and grab all of that video input all at one time.