Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg Slams Windows XP

The Wall Street Journalis Walt Mossberg has released his review of the upcoming Windows XP operating system. Mr. Mossberg calls the new OS the best Microsoft operating system yet, but he spends a good portion of the review criticizing and slamming many of the lamer aspects of the new OS. He takes issue with Microsoftis activation process whereby you have to call Microsoft in order to turn Windows XP on after installing it. He also has sharp words for the way Windows XP steers users into services and products that are either owned by Microsoft or pay tolls to Microsoft. His last parting shot concerns Microsoftis failure to have its built-in Windows Media Player create MP3 files. From the review:

Unfortunately, thereis a downside to this good news. Microsoft has burdened Windows XP with new restrictions and requirements for use. Every Windows XP PC must go through a process called "activation," either at the factory or by the user, that allows Microsoft to gather and store a profile of each computer, and block each copy of XP from being used on a second computer. An activated copy of XP tracks which PC it is on, and can shut down if your hardware configuration changes too much.

The company has also turned Windows XP into a sort of Trojan horse. It has built in a bunch of "features," such as instant messaging, online photo printing and a "passport" to the Web, that are just blatant efforts to lure consumers into using a set of new Web-based services Microsoft is launching, while ignoring alternative services that may be better. The goal seems to be to trap users in a sort of Microsoft company store.

Itis as if you finally had a chance to buy a sleek, reliable new car after owning a series of lemons, only to find that the new car was rigged so that the manufacturer could track which garage you kept the car in, blare its ads at will through the radio, and steer you toward toll roads it owned.

Itis somewhat suspicious that software from some of Microsoftis fiercest rivals just happened to be partially disabled in some way by Windows XP, requiring those companies to scramble to offer patches. Apple Computer Inc.is QuickTime media player, AOL Time Warner Inc.is America Online version 6.0 software and RealNetworks Inc.is RealJukebox all must be updated by their users to work fully and properly under Windows XP.

Mr. Mossberg also offers a less than favorable comparison to Mac OS Xis Aqua interface:

The look and feel of the new interface is attractive, but may take some getting used to. Its standard scheme combines very bold, saturated greens and blues in some places with light, subtle beiges in others. Windows and buttons are more rounded and have a slight 3-D effect, but arenit nearly as dramatic as in Appleis new OS X operating system.

Mr. Mossberg closes with the following:

Microsoft says this is because it costs too much to license the technology needed for high-quality MP3 creation, but thatis hard to believe when the company has over $30 billion in cash, huge profit margins -- and a desire to supplant MP3.

All in all, Windows XP is the best operating system Microsoft has ever produced. But the companyis ferocious drive to dominate the digital world mars its masterpiece.

Ouch. We have not quoted all of the condemnation, and we have included little of the praise for XPis good aspects, so we encourage you to read the article for yourself. Itis a very good read. We should also point out that Mr. Mossberg recently wrote a preview of Mac OS X 10.1.