Not all universities require it, but I am alarmed to see how many do. I personally have a problem with allowing central administration of a PERSONAL notebook, since you really have no idea what administrators might impose on your machine. I think universities have a right to protect their networks, sure, but there needs to be a line between protecting their network and my PERSONAL machine.
Anyway, this topic comes up a lot and I happened tobe in the process of writing up an essay/article for a second purpose. Still in draft, but I hope this is helpful (and feel free to point out how stupid I am).Do I need Windows Xp Pro or Home?
An easy question to ask, not so easy to answer.
Generally, when you ask that question, you get one of two answers: From elitist techno-snobs, you here "XP pro all the way! Home sucks!" From the more technically conservative, but impatient folks,"If you don't know why you need XP pro already, you don't."
I typically fall into the latter group, but that doesn't go a long want toward answering the question (and is a bit of a techno-snob answer, as well.
Here's what Microsoft has to say on the matter: xp comparison guide
For the sake of brevity, let's just concentrate on where the two versions of Windows XP differ.
Remote Desktop – remotely access your Windows XP Professional PC, from another Windows PC, so you can work with all of your data and applications while away from your office.
Pro has got it, Home doesn't.
To be absolutely clear, Remote Desktop allows you to connect to an XP Pro computer (known as the HOST, for this feature) from another computer. The computer you are actually sitting in front of does not need to have Windows XP Pro or even Home, for that matter, since you can install the Remote Desktop client all the way back to Windows 95 machines. Once you connect to the host from a client, you can run applications, access resources such as printers, files and folders, and network folders the host can access.
Both the HOST and client require a connection to the Internet--the feature does not work by calling the remote computer on a regular phone line (though this can be accomplished in other ways). The connection does not have to be a broadband connection, but will function when the Client is on a dial-up (the HOST requires a permanent connection with Remote Desktop, since the HOST must be on and ready to receive connections). In order to function as a HOST, the computer must be set up as such--it is not on by default. There may be additional requirements depending on the nature of the HOSTS connection to the Internet (security, firewall, etc).
If the Windows Pro machine is set up, the client software can be installed on any computer running Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows Me, Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 2000. The Remote Desktop client software is installed by default on Windows XP Professional and Home Edition.
So, then. The question to ask: do I need to connect to this computer over the Internet? If yes, then XP Pro is the correct choice. If no, then Home Edition is the correct choice.
If you need to connect to the computer by calling it from a remote location, the Remote Desktop location doesn't help.
Additionally, there are several third party (and free alternatives), such as RealVNC , TightVNC and UltraVNC that will accomplish the same task under the same limitations (security and firewalls must be set to allow it. They are all equally as fast, if not more so.
Offline Files and Folders - access to files & folders on a network share when disconnected from the server.
As the feature implies, if you're not on a network where you use network shares, there is no need for this feature, and thus no need to purchase Windows XP Pro. So for the vast majority of people who use desktop computers as stand along machines, opt for XP Home Edition.
For notebook users who are rarely disconnected from the network, the same holds true.
Offline Files and Folders is really a synchronization tool. When you connect to a network, the tool syncs the files stored locally with the network share. If the local files are different (newer), it copies them to the network share. If the network share files are different, it copies those to your local machine (in this case, it intelligently synchronizes the files, asking you if you want to save your version, overwrite it with the network share, or keep copies of both). The sychronization process happens automatically, with your only input being when the remote file differs from the local--and then it is a simple choice, rather than manual copying/renaming.
If you use this function a lot, this can be a great time saver. If you use it rarely, you can probably do without it and stick with the Home Edition.
Scalable processor support – up to two-way multi-processor support.
Easiest one of the bunch. Got two central processor units (CPUs) on your computer? You need Windows XP Pro. If you have only a single processor, you will do just fine with Home Edition.
****Note: There is an often repeated fallacy on the Internet that Windows XP Home Edition does not support Hyperthreading, an Intel technology that enables multi-threaded software applications to execute threads in parallel. This is often interpreted as meaning two-way multi-processor support, since Windows XP recognizes HT-enabled processors as two processors. That interpretation is incorrect. Home Edition recognizes and uses HT-enabled processors exactly the same as Windows Xp Pro.
Encrypting File System - protects sensitive data in files that are stored on disk using the NTFS file system.
If you ever want to watch a typical computer user's eyes glaze over, start talking about public-, private-key, CryptoAPI architecture, expanded Data Encryption Standards (DESX) or Triple-DES (3DES) as the encryption algorithm.
What it basically boils down to is only the user who encrypts a protected file can open the file and work with it. Well, for the most part. It is actually pretty effective. Even installing a harddrive in another system or installing a second OS on the computer will prevent it from being easily opened.
Only authorized users and designated data recovery agents can decrypt encrypted files.
It should be noted somewhere (and here seems as good a place as any), that EFS is only as good as your logon security, since it is your logon that identifies you as the user who encrypted a file. I have seen people encrypt files and think they are secure and not bother to password protect their user account, or use something so simple that a 7-year-old with a one-word vocabularly (say, "password") can crack it.
Also, EFS applies only to someone who has direct, local access to the data-storage. It doesn't even come into play for files and folders shared over a network (though it does apply to the aforementioned offline files and folders).
So, the question a user needs to ask is: 1)do I have sensitive data, and, 2) is my concern that someone will get a hold of my computer/harddrive? and 3) do I practive even rudimentary system security so that EFS has relevence.
If not, Home Edition is your choice.
Access Control – restrict access to selected files, applications, and other resources.
Closely tied to the above, the access control lists that are part of NTFS gives users and system administrators very granular control of who can do what to files, folders, applications and other resources like network shares.
Would you like another user on your machine to be able to see and read a file, but not change it? That's when XP Professional comes in handy.
Designed to work with Microsoft Windows Servers and management solutions
Here is why businesses love XP Pro. Domains and XP Pro makes the process of controlling hundreds, even thousands of machines much easier (not to mention, fewer people are required to maintain more machines--can you say personnel overhead?).
Just to touch briefly on the first few that have little relevence to most users.
Join Windows XP Professional systems to a Windows Server domain to take advantage of the full range of powerful management and security tools--this is the Domain stuff you keep hearing about. If you are joining this computer to a Domain, that's all you need to know. Windows XP pro is what you need.
Software Installation and Maintenance
Automatically install, configure, repair, or remove software applications. This is great stuff if you're responsible for rolling out antivirus updates to a network full of machines, or ensuring certain people get certain software they need. And its pretty pointless if you don't require it.
Roaming User Profiles
Access to all your documents and settings no matter where you log on. Once again, this isn't a compelling reason for most home users.
Remote Installation Service (RIS)
Support for remote operating system installations where desktops can be installed across the network. Ever need to do this in a home network? Thought not. Stick with XP Home Edition.
Group Policy - simplifies the administration of groups of users or computers.
This is generally lumped in with the above Centralized administration category, but I am separating it out. Oddly enough, this is perhaps one of the more compelling reason to choose Windows Xp Pro.
Group policy is intended for large networks...it is a management tool. The thing is, Group Policy is useful if you have a small network, or even a single machine--especially if you you have multiple users on a machine. There are often workarounds to the absence of Group Polcy in Xp Home Edition, but why work around something?
This is called Local Group Policy and it is absent from Windows XP Home. Local group policy controls many, many settings of your Windows installation, but they can be broken down into two main groups: Computer configuration and User cofiguration.
These are further broken down into Software and Windows settings, and Administrative templates, which are then broken down into addition categories.
Just as a for instance, and one of those "Gosh darn, why the heck isn't that in Windows XP Home!?! examples, you have the option of running scripts when a computer starts or shuts down, OR when a user logs on or logs off. There are a couple of easy ways to make windows do something at startup, but few good ways to make computers do something at shutdown. Local Group Policy provides this through the shutdown scripts function.
Another case might be where you don't want a user of your computer to have access to the Control Panel because they are forever causing problems--that also can be done through Local Group Policy.
There are literally hundreds of other settings...some accessible via tweak programs like tweakui and X-teq, and some that can be accomplished in other ways, but there seems little reason for Microsoft to have not included Local Group Policy within Windows Home--but they did.
Local Group Policy (and Group Policy) can be confusing, so it's not for the feint of heart, but it is a compelling reason to opt for Windows XP pro, and probably something that the Power Users (or those who fancy themselves as such), would want.
Communicate efficiently with others around the world
Multi-lingual User Interface (MUI) add-on change the user interface language to get localized dialog boxes, menus, help files, dictionaries, and proofing tools etc. Not much to be said here, really. If you need to change the dialog box languages from English, to Spanish, or whatever on a frequent basis, you need XP Pro. If not, move along
Intagibles -- other reasons why you might consider Windows XP Pro over Home
Resale value -
I must confess that this idea never occured to me until recently. Are you the kind of person who buys a laptop or desktop, then sells it within a reasonably short time frame where it may still have some value? It turns out a number of laptop users do just that. For these people, Windows XP Pro makes sense simply because to the layman, Windows XP Pro has more PERCEIVED VALUE. Therefore, if a person is in the market for a used laptop, and there are two identical or nearly identical machines available, the one with Windows XP Pro may be more appealing and it could be a deal closer. Remember, since most systems come with the OEM version of Windows XP, the license for your Windows installation applies to the MACHINE (whereas the retail license applies to the user). Legally, you are not supposed to sell your computer and keep the windows cd and install it on a different machine.
Taskkill and Tasklist -
Uhm what? OK, not a biggie for most people, but I was stunned to learn recently that a couple of command line tools I use with some frequency are not part of Windows Xp Home Edition. These are not little programs that can be copied over, but are part of the kernal? Unless you need to write little scripts that require these handy little utilities, you will never miss them, but I happen to need these on ocassion, so it makes me wonder just what else is missing?