To the Ministry's main lobby The Ministry Blog
concert setlists

21 June, 2006

Which OS?

My new PC will arrive with WinXP Media Center Edition preinstalled.  However, I'm unlikely to use it as a 'media centre', and can obtain a (legitimate!) copy of XP Pro from my employer for free.

Anyone have any recommendations about whether I should?

As I understand, an advantage would be to have the WinXP Pro interface. I loathe the cartoony, invasively 'helpful' XP Home interface (which seems to be a pervasive attitude, rather than just a 'cute' skin), and presume that of XP MCE would be similar.
However, I tend to customise my working interface anyway: blank black desktop without icons, 'classic' (Win98-ish) layouts for 'Start', 'Control Panel', etc., and textual 'Details' view for Win Explorer and related files listings. So long as I can do that in XP MCE too, it should be okay. After all, I have lived with Win Me for several years on my current home PC and, to be fair, have had no problems with it.

Another point I like about XP Pro (in as much as I 'like' Windows at all...) is that the config settings are fairly clear and not hidden behind a 'My First Computer' interface. Is XP MCE as configurable as XP Pro, and can the hand-holding wizards be turned off?

This is the deciding factor, though: would XP Pro recognise the hardware likely to be included in a XP MCE-optimised build? The PC does come with a TV tuner which, whilst I don't anticipate doing so, I would like the option of using.

[Update 14:45: Having spoken to tech support here on campus, it seems XP MCE can have almost exactly the same interface as XP Pro. Unless anyone else knows of other issues, I suspect I'll stick with the preinstalled OS.]


Erm, you can turn off the cutesy interface in XP Home, as well as in XP Pro, and I'm sure you can in XP MCE.

To be honest, I'd give XP MCE a try first before messing around installing XP Pro. Unless you're wanting to do some serious system administration or connect it to a network domain, you'll be fine with Home or MCE.

Posted by Neil T. at June 21, 2006 05:07 PM

Sorry; that point about XP Home is kind of obvious now I think about it!
I've never owned a XP Home PC myself, and it'd be rude to experiment with someone else's preferred setup, but I had the impression that it was only possible to tone-down the 'fluff' rather than turn it off; that the underlying 'what do you want to do now?' 'helpful' attitude wasn't optional.
I presume 'advanced' settings (i.e. anything but entry-level) are hidden in the default XP Home interface, but your point applies there too: with a bit of hunting, I'm sure they could be enabled.

Thanks for the advice. XP MCE it is (for now), even though 'Centre' is mis-spelled....

Posted by NRT at June 21, 2006 06:23 PM

Oh FFS. Buy a Mac :-p

Posted by Siobhan Curran at June 21, 2006 11:25 PM

Overpriced and entirely the wrong aesthetic. I want a decent spec for my money (the closest spec'd iMac costs £1,424), and in a utilitarian beige box (it's a tool, not an ornament).

But you knew that already. ;)

Posted by NRT at June 22, 2006 09:06 AM

I'm actually aiming to buy a PC with Windows MCE on it next time, assuming I buy one before Vista is released. My next PC will be a notebook computer. A small percentage of notebook PCs have MCE pre-installed.

It seems as though MS has lowered the fee for XP Pro on notebook computers. It used to be offered on the premiere model$ only--not so any more. You can get budget models with Pro. I'm willing to pay a little more for MCE (even though it offers fewer advanced features than Pro) simply 'cause I'm curious about MCE.

I run both XP Pro and XP Home on my present home computers. (I really shoud sell or give one or more away.) I don't really use XP's advanced features. I'd like to get my hands on a small Mac if I had the spare cash.

Houston, TX USA

Posted by Dan at June 27, 2006 10:03 PM
Site Home Tull Tour History Annotated Passion Play
Day in the life... Page design and original graphics © NRT, 2003