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There are some annoying aspects to the operating system. Balloons pop up from time to time inviting you to sign up for a 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

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