Businesses See Value in Windows XP

April 17, 2002
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — Microsoft’s Windows XP made its debut along with a new Microsoft office in Grand Rapids at the end of last year and since then has gained speed in the business world.

The launch formally marked Microsoft’s contribution of $75,000 in software to the 10 newly formed Business Resource Centers (BRCs) opening throughout the state of Michigan. The BRCs are joint ventures between the Michigan Small Business Development Center (MI-SBDC), regional hosts and private partners such as local banks and colleges, including Grand Valley State University’s Seidman School of Business.

The BRCs provide one-stop locations where current and future small business owners can receive assistance and advice. BRCs also combine the latest computer technology, hardware and software, an extensive small business reference library of hard copy books, publications and current management videotapes to help entrepreneurs plan their business, expand an existing business or venture into new business areas. The use of software for a variety of business applications offers clients of all types a means for addressing diverse needs.

“We’re energized by Microsoft’s substantial show of support for Michigan’s business interests,” said MI-SBDC state director Carol Lopucki. “This contribution will greatly enhance our ability to effectively guide a client through the first steps of business ownership, product or service expansion.”

Microsoft also formally announced the opening of its new Grand Rapids office. The office provides close proximity and enhanced service to Microsoft’s West Michigan-region clients, including Meijer Inc. and the Van Andel Institute.

“We’re truly excited to have a presence in what’s been called one of the best cities for business in the country,” said Dennis Cerasoli, managing consultant for Microsoft’s Grand Rapids office. “Microsoft looks forward to continuing to strengthen our relationships within the Grand Rapids business community through a new regional presence and the resulting improved communication and accessibility.”

The employees live in or around the Grand Rapids area. “This way we are really a part of the community and we aren’t being flown in from Toledo to figure out a problem and then going home,” Malotke said.

He added that he wants to approach the phasing in of Windows XP as a solution to problems. “I can solve problems with this software,” he said. “If someone is having a security problem, I can solve that. If their system is continuously crashing, I can solve that. This software will take the business and individual user through any problem they have previously experienced and cancel it out.”

“Windows XP is the product of extensive research and the resulting identification of what components are necessary to fulfill the needs of computer users at both business and home,” said Gordon Bennett, practice manager for Microsoft Great Lakes. “We’re excited to celebrate the launch of it, along with Microsoft’s commitment to the West Michigan region, with the opening of our office in Grand Rapids.”

The new system was built upon Windows 2000, incorporating the best features of Windows 98 into the program. “When Windows 2000 came out, it was basically for the business,” said Mark Malotke, technical specialist for Microsoft. “What we did was we built upon that and then took Windows 98, which was more for the home user and took the best aspects of that system, to create an entirely user-friendly program, with two versions.”

As a result of the new development, Windows 98 and Windows ME support will be discontinued in June 2003.

Windows XP now comes in two flavors, Professional and Home Edition, both with specific functionality differences and benefits for each user. What makes this program better than its predecessors, Malotke said, is that it is an out-of-the-box set. “There are added features that on every other product we made before, and still some others that you would buy out there today and are basic applications, and every other luxury is additional,” he said. “That is not true with XP, you are going to get everything you always wished for with this program. And we are going to walk you through it, one step at a time.”

Among the unique features in the Windows XP operating system:

**Remote Desktop and Remote Assistance — allows you to create a virtual session and use your desktop computer from another computer running Windows 95 or later, giving you access to all of your data and applications even when you’re not in your office. “This allows me to look at your desktop from my computer, and be able to diagnose your problem without even leaving my office,” said Malotke.

**Wireless Networking Support — provides support for second access, as well as performance improvements for wireless networks.

**New Task-Based Visual Design — get to your most commonly used tasks, thanks to a cleaner design and new visual cues. “You can also personalize your desktop and make it unique only to you, so that you can feel at home with your own PC,” Malotke said.

**Advanced Performance — Windows XP manages system resources efficiently, to keep your system running as fast as possible even when you’re working with multiple programs at the same time.

**Encrypted File System — Encodes files so it is impossible to read without a specially designed code, provides the utmost security. “It is not just putting in a password, you actually have to have a code to un-garble it so it is very, very secure,” he said. “If someone loses a laptop at the airport there is less security risk of losing files.”

**Fast User Switching — Allows more than one user to use the same machine without having to cancel and shut down every time. “This way if a co-worker comes up and needs to use my machine right away I don’t have to shut everything down and then start it all up again when he is finished. All I have to do is hit a button and it saves everything I am working on in the background while he is working, then I switch back to me and everything is right where I left it,” Malotke said.

Lopucki added that she feels the advantages of the system far outweigh the disadvantages. “The reduction of downtime, the remote usage capacity and the capability of communicating with customers are the key pluses and I think will win out over things like cost, transition and training,” she said.

“It will be a fair-sized small business that needs to ramp up to this sophistication, unless their business relies on technology to communicate with their customers or unless they are truly using technology for a competitive advantage.”           

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