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Minor annoyances include the lack of a bundled 3D task switcher, a prominent feature in both Vista and Novell's SUSE Linux desktop. Xandros allows users to download a 3D task switcher once the product is registered and activated. As Xandros is a commercial product, registration and activation are required before users can download updates or additional applications.
Linux proponents may turn their noses up at Xandros, as they may consider it a dumbed-down iteration of Linux that puts Windows compatibility above Linux capabilities. For example, Xandros has selected a suite of products that some may consider old or at least not as current as their open source equivalents. Xandros selected some older versions of particular applications to ensure stability, which will be paramount to a Windows user. Also, the elimination of some Linux tools, utilities and programs adds to the simplicity of the product.
Installation of the OS is quite easy. I installed Xandros Desktop Version 4 Home Edition Premium on four different test systems: an IBM Thinkpad T42, an HP/Compaq NC6320 notebook, an AMD Athalon 64 X2-based white box system and an Intel Pentium IV-based white box system.
The installation wizard proved to be quite straightforward and easy to use, with most choices automated. The product proves easier to install than most flavors of Windows and an installation can be accomplished in about 15 minutes. Initial driver and hardware identification was excellent, enabling all major components of the test systems.
One weakness is with unidentified hardware and tracking down appropriate drivers. For example, I was unable to get the fingerprint biometric scanners working on either notebook and I could not locate drivers for those devices. What Xandros lacks is a centralized hardware device management list, similar to the device manager found in the various flavors of Windows. At least with Windows device manager, a user can identify unsupported or unrecognized devices, making troubleshooting much easier.
Those concerns mean that time may have to be spent with a Linux professional to get everything working the way one would expect.
The bottom line is that Xandros Desktop Version 4 Home Edition Premium is a good choice for those looking to get off the Windows bandwagon, but the product itself will only appeal to those who want something different. Microsoft probably doesn't have to worry about a product like Xandros Desktop Version 4 Home Edition Premium stealing its dedicated customers.
On the other hand, you can't beat the feature set included for the price, security and flexibility that Xandros offers to those sitting on the fence. As the product further evolves, Microsoft may very well have something to worry about.
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