Small Business and Windows XP

Tips & Hints

Small business and XP

31 October 2001

Small business is one of the main markets Microsoft are aiming for with the release of Windows XP. Most small businesses currently use Windows 95/98/ME which has been superceded by XP. Microsoft quite rightly point out that XP is more reliable and stable than the Windows products it replaces. But this reliablility comes at a cost.

If you are running Windows 95 then you cannot upgrade to XP. It is unlikely that any computer running 95 would be capable of running XP, anyway. Like all newer operating systems, XP needs a lot of power. Forget running it on any computer with less than 128Mb of RAM and a 4Gb hard drive.

The two flavours of XP

There are two types of XP, home and professional. Most smaller businesses can get away with using XP Home, however Home lacks a number of networking features, such as support for Novell Netware, that were included in earlier versions of Windows. Home has better built in support for CD-Burning and digital photography.

XP Professional is marketed as the system for businesses. If you have network requirements that go beyond basic file, print and Internet sharing between Windows PC’s then you will probably need Professional. Professional does have a number of useful utilities for business, however many of these are already available in Windows 2000. To get the full network features of XP Professional you will need to be running a flavour of Windows 2000 or NT Server on your network.

Purchasing options

MS would like you to subscribe to use their products, but the sums are not attractive. The purchase price for XP Home is $409.00, XP Professional $582.00, the Open Business subscription is $397.00 for two years. If we assume a four year life for a computer then the subscription will cost $794.00, the sums are worse if you expect a five year life for your computers.

Remember too that XP will be supplied as part of the purchase cost for many computers. So if you are buying new computers, a subscription covering your systems is probably duplicating the cost of the software. The subscription also locks you into Microsoft’s product strategy, so if they decide not to re-licence your operating system at the end of the subscription period then you will be forced to upgrade, which may mean purchasing new hardware as well as software.

Upgrading to XP

The same general comments apply for small business as any other Windows users. If your business runs older DOS software or has hardware like bar-code scanners and cash registers then there is a good chance that your older equipment will not run on XP. If you run any proprietary software or hardware such as POS systems or industry-specific software then you must talk to your supplier before installing XP.

Over time XP and its successors will become the standard operating systems for small business. However there is no need to jump now. The most important thing with business computers is that they can talk to other computers. At present there are too many incompatiblities to recommend using Windows XP in small business.

PC Rescue Pty Ltd
Suite 236, 4 Young Street Neutral Bay NSW 2089
ABN 082 635 765
ŠTechnology Publishing Australia, 2011