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An interesting capability included with Xandros is the ability for the desktop environment to mimic other operating systems, namely Microsoft Windows XP and the Macintosh OS. During the product installation, users are offered with a choice on how they want their desktop to look and the product does a good job of mimicking those other operating systems' GUIs. Light duty Windows users will find the interface a close enough approximation to quickly adapt to the Xandros environment and become quickly productive. Hardcore Windows users may be perturbed by the underlying differences, such as personalization options, application settings and OS customization. After all, the Windows look and feel emulation is just a front end spliced onto the Linux environment.
For those considering the leap to Linux, Xandros offers a multiboot capability. During an Installation, users have the option of keeping their existing Windows installation. The product will automatically create new partitions on the hard drive, protecting the original Windows installation, while creating a new partition to hold the Xandros OS. This can be done automatically and offers a way back to Windows if needed. Xandros offers a graphical boot manager that clearly shows OS choices during boot up, allowing users to switch back and forth at will.
Xandros also bundles the Versora Progression Migration tool, a product that allows a Linux user to capture all personalization information and preferences from a Windows system. Versora Progression works by creating an archive of a user's data stored in several Windows applications, including Microsoft Office, Outlook, wallpaper, directory structures, web browser settings and several other elements that define a user's desktop environment. Once all this information is captured, it can be imported into the Linux desktop, allowing users to have immediate access to their bookmarks, emails, data files and much more. Versora used in combination with dual boot technology and CrossOver Office should make the transition from Windows to Linux an easy one.
While Xandros does an admirable job in several areas, all is not perfect with the product. First off, those who use Microsoft's Media Center Edition Main Media Center Menu and Remote Controls will find that Xandros lacks anything similar out of the box. Those shortcomings, especially the lack of an "across the room" interface will make the OS not as ideal as a replacement for a Media Center PC.
What's more, some features just did not seem to function properly. For example, I was unable to get WEP encrypted Wi-fi to work. For some reason, Xandros refused to use a WEP key to associate with an encrypted Wi-fi access point. Unencrypted connections worked fine, but I found no way to connect using WEP encryption. That was the case on several machines tested, all of which worked fine using WEP under Windows XP and Windows Vista Beta 2.