There are some annoying aspects to the operating system. Balloons pop up from time to time inviting you to sign up for a Microsoft.net passport account or to sign on to the Windows Messenger service. There are instances--such as making it very "easy" to order prints of digital photos--in which Microsoft tries to direct users to its or its partners' services.
The Bottom Line
The extra stability makes Windows XP a worthy upgrade from earlier versions of Windows. But if your system runs fine and you don't need or want the extra features, you can find something else to do with $99.
This article originally appeared in slightly altered form in the Los Angeles Times. Larry Magid is a technology analyst for CBS News and syndicated columnist whose articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News. You can visit his Web site at http://www.pcanswer.com.