Comparing Windows XP Home to XP Professional

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The biggest question is often "Which version of Windows XP should I use?" Microsoft asks five questions that can help you decide which version you wish to install:.

• Do you want to remotely access your computer so you can work with all your data and applications while away from your desk?

• Do you connect to a large network?

• Do you need to protect sensitive data in files and folders that are stored on your computer?

• Do you need the ability to completely restore your system in the event of a catastrophic failure?

• Would you consider yourself a "power user"?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you will probably want to choose Windows XP Professional as your operating system. Let's look at the details for each of these questions.

Remote Desktop and Remote Assistance
One of the best things to happen to desktop computing, especially for technical support personnel, is remote assistance. While Remote Desktop and Remote Assistance rely on the same technology, and essentially the same concept, they are used for different reasons.

Remote Desktop allows you to have access to a Windows session that is running on your computer, when you are at another computer. Remote Assistance allows someone, like a Technical Support person, to use an Internet connection to access your computer to provide assistance.

Available only on Windows XP Professional, Remote Desktop allows you to:

Redirect the system. Once Remote Desktop is started, any file residing on the remote computer is accessible as if it was on a network-shared drive.

Redirect a printer. Let's say you are working on a work project at home one evening. Using Remote Desktop allows you to access the document on your work computer, store it on your work computer, but print it out on your printer at home.

Use Port redirection. You can use the devices on your one computer and the applications on another together via Remote Desktop.

Use Audio. You are attending a business presentation. Now you can run audio-enabled presentation on your office computer and hear the sound from speakers attached to the computer at your client's office.

Share a Clipboard. The Remote Desktop and the client computer share a clipboard that allows data to be interchanged.

Feel Secure. Remote desktop technologies used to be considered "not secure" because when you accessed your computer remotely, any person near your computer could see exactly what work you were doing. Remote Desktop locks the computer to which you connected remotely. Anyone viewing the computer will only see the logon screen.

Use Web Accessibility. Without adding any client software, you can use Remote Desktop Web Connection to securely connect and work with the remote computer from inside Internet Explorer. Connection is made through a Web address.

Use Many Other Features, such as power management, offline files and ActiveSync technology.

NOTE: Remote Desktop is the way recommended by Microsoft for troubleshooting remote servers.

Remote assistance has been a lifesaver for many an IT professional. Many problems can be solved without having to be physically present at the client's workstation. Both the client and the technical assistant must be running an operating system that supports remote assistance (at this time, only Windows XP supports it). Both individuals must also be running either Windows Messenger or a MAPI-compliant email, such as Microsoft Outlook, as well as being connected to the Internet.

If there are firewalls between the computers, the firewalls must allow the traffic. The client sends out an invitation (with a time limit) to the person providing assistance. Once the invitation is accepted, the technical assistant can see the client's computer screen, can chat with the client "real time" about what is happening, and with the client's permission can "take over" the desktop, using his or her own keyboard and mouse to control the environment.

It is important to note that the remote computer must grant access before anyone can connect remotely to it. Access is granted through the System icon in Control Panel, on the Remote tab. The technical assistant must either be an administrator or a member of the local Remote Desktop Users group.

NOTE: You must be an administrator or a member of the Administrators Group to enable the Remote Desktop feature.

You must be logged on as an administrator or a member of the Administrators group to enable the Remote Desktop feature.

Network Size
While Windows XP Home is an ideal choice for home or small networks, larger networks will benefit from XP Professional. Microsoft's recommendation is that XP Professional be used for any network that is more than five computers. To access a domain-based network, you will require Windows XP Professional.

Security
The Encrypting File System (EFS) is found in Windows XP Professional but not Windows XP Home Edition. EFS allows an individual to encrypt files and folders for an additional level of security (especially for sensitive data) against theft or hackers. Encrypted File System (EFS) provides file encryption on an individual file basis using a public-key system. EFS encryption and NTFS file compression are mutually exclusive; you cannot compress an encrypted file. Sparse files may be encrypted.
Another feature found only in Windows XP Professional is "Restricted File Access." RFA allows you to restrict access to specific files, applications, and many other resources.

System Restore
Because it is designed for professional office use, rather than a small working environment, Windows XP Professional provides more forceful alternatives for backing up and restoring data than XP Home. An example of this is "System Restore". System Restore is essentially an "undo" command for system settings. While you are working on the system, System Restore automatically monitors and records key system changes. If you make a system setting change and then discover a problem, the change can be "rolled back" using System Restore.

Features for Power Users
If you are a user that needs "more", demands "more", wants "more" from your computer, then Windows XP Professional will be the choice for you. This operating system has a number of additional features that are covered in greater detail throughout this book. Some of the more notable features you may want to consider when making your choice include:

• Advanced networking for multiple PC environments
• Internet Information Services (IIS), a feature that lets you host and manage personal Web sites
• Support for multiple-processor systems
• Support for multiple languages

Comparing Windows XP Pop Quiz Questions
1. What is the difference between Remote Desktop and Remote Assistance?
2. What level of permission must you have to enable Remote Desktop?
3. When should you consider changing from Windows XP Home Edition to Professional Edition?
4. What is EFS?

Comparing Windows XP Pop Quiz Answers
1. Remote Desktop allows you to have access to a Windows session that is running on your computer, when you are at another computer. Remote Assistance allows someone, like a Technical Support person, to use an Internet connection to access your computer to provide assistance.

2. You must be an administrator or a member of the Administrators Group to enable the Remote Desktop feature.

3. Microsoft's recommendation is that XP Professional be used for any network that is more than five computers.

4. Encrypted File System (EFS) provides file encryption on an individual file basis using a public-key system.

 

Deborah Timmons is a Microsoft Certified Trainer and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. She came into the Microsoft technical field after six years in the adaptive technology field, providing technology and training for persons with disabilities. She is the President and co-owner of Integrator Systems Inc.

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