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WinXP Release Anticipated

Tech Execs See Big Advance Over Earlier Operating Systems.

The appearance of a new or updated operating system is an occasion for calculations of possible benefit and decisions whether to move ahead with the new release or wait till something better comes along. But with the October 25 debut of Microsoft's (Redmond, WA) WinXP, the calculations may be easier than usual.

"The most important benefit of Windows XP is its reliability and its inherent capability to participate better in a network environment-and that's where Windows 95 and 98 really fell short," says Kurt Hale, director of technologies, Life of the South Insurance Co. (Jacksonville, FL, $190 million in assets). "We've been reluctant to move to Windows 2000 because of its pricing structure, but from what we can tell, XP will carry on the tradition of the stable NT environment that the operating system has demonstrated, yet come in at a price level that we can accept on a 'going-forward' basis."

Don Lykins, vice president, application architecture, American Financial Group (AFG, $3.3 billion total revenue), says side-by-side DLL (dynamic link library) support is "a phenomenal breakthrough" that "will allow you to deploy software faster and more efficiently" and avoid "DLL hell. Until now, you had to have specific DLLs on your computer," he says. "So when you wrote software you couldn't necessarily take advantage of new features because legacy applications had to work off these same DLLs." This feature alone "is the main reason companies should adopt XP over Windows 2000."

Built-In Firewall

John Kellington, CTO, Ohio Casualty (Fairfield, OH, approximately $4.51 billion in assets) hails XP's remote desktop feature, which "will help from a help-desk perspective in solving user problems."

Kellington also sees benefit in the operating system's built-in Internet connection firewall. Accessing the carrier's virtual private network with DSL or cable modem allows users "to get into our stuff at a relatively high speed, but that exposes their machine because it's on the Internet," he says. "Having the built-in firewall helps that."

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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