Windows XP arrives by PC on Monday

Microsoft's latest - and most controversial - operating system goes on sale in new PCs on Monday, several weeks ahead of the packaged versions

Windows XP will arrive in the UK as the default operating system on most new PCs starting on Monday, with most major vendors upgrading their systems to Microsoft's latest. Users of older versions of Windows won't be able to buy upgrades until 25 October when the packaged version is due to ship.

Most UK vendors said they will be shifting their entire Windows desktop line to Windows XP. Evesham Micros will be selling AMD Duron machines starting at £549 exc VAT, AMD Athlon PCs starting at £799 exc VAT. Evesham will sell Windows XP systems powered by Intel Pentium 4 chips starting at £699 exc VAT.

Viglen will be selling Intel Celeron-based Windows XP systems starting at £359 exc VAT and Pentium 4 systems starting at £631 exc VAT.

Windows XP is a major upgrade to Microsoft's consumer operating system series, the latest edition of which is Windows Me, shifting consumer users over to the more stable Windows NT code base. Microsoft says XP is very similar to Windows 2000, which was aimed at businesses, but adds more backward-compatibility with older Windows applications.

It includes a new, simplified interface, called Luna, and comes bundled with a variety of Microsoft programs such as messaging, networking and audio applications. Competitors fear that this "bundling" is a ploy to drive them out of business and consolidate Microsoft's monopoly on the desktop.

The new OS also includes the controversial Product Activation feature, which ties the OS to one set of hardware. Users who buy the OS on a new PC will not have to activate XP, but if they upgrade enough hardware over time, the OS may deactivate itself and require permission from Microsoft to be reactivated.

PC makers are eagerly awaiting the chance to sell XP, but industry analysts say the OS is unlikely to be much help at reviving a sluggish PC market.

See the Windows XP News Section for the latest XP headlines.

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