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New WinXP file system breaks disk utilities. Again. Oops.

Serves them right for boasting about PM6 running on Win2k...

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The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The utility companies are going to get it again when Windows XP ships - not that they've any right to be surprised. Microsoft has made some small revisions to NTFS with WinXP, resulting in the likes of Partition Magic bouncing straight off WinXP installations, splattering error messages around the place.

This probably goes for any other utility that manipulates partitions and/or wants to twiddle around with Master Boot Records, and it surely won't come as a surprise to the vendors, as they regularly get whacked by Microsoft file system upgrades. Still, it's a bummer for Partition Magic, which only started running native on Win2k relatively recently, and WinXP is in essence a rev of Win2k.

Microsoft has upgraded NTFS to NTFS 5.1 for WinXP, and while this is close enough for PM6 to install and run a bit, the change defeats operations like copy drive. Which is surely a bummer for beta testers, given that sensible people might want to copy the system partition somewhere safe before trying something possibly hazardous.

It's not clear what benefits the point rev of NTFS brings. The documentation with the beta code doesn't seem to refer to NTFS 5.1 specifically, although it does mention a couple of minor benefits of the file system, including read-only NTFS partitions. The notes don't refer to collateral damage to utility software either, but this sort of thing does happen regularly, so maybe the vendors are just supposed to take it as a given.

Whatever, the breakages ought to be fixable via a minor patch or two. And on a personal note, we'd like to appeal for these patches to be finished now, rather than six weeks after RTM. Mail us when it's done guys, OK?

There is, as we may have mentioned before, an official breakware list with the WinXP beta code. This consists of "CD-ROM-burning software such as Adaptec EZ CD Creator, Media jukebox software such as RealNetworks, RealJukeBox, or MusicMatch JukeBox, or Media-playing software such as Windows Media Player 7.0 or NullSoft WinAmp."

Impartial breaking of its own software is a small price to pay when you think of the ambition of the brewing WMP8 Experience, and considering it's all part of the OS these days (or RSN), Real.* ought to just pack up and go home anyway, right? CD-ROM burning is interesting though, because of Microsoft's stated aim of controlling the ability to burn music onto CD, depending on whether you've got a valid licence or not. This to be controlled via media player, of course.

But although EZ CD Creator will (or so Microsoft says) interfere with the installation of XP, it seems it's still possible to twiddle the system so it or Nero can run after you've installed. So the war for control of the burner has only just begun... ®

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