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Operating System - by Sam Chow

Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional is usually the operating system of choice on business laptops as opposed to Windows XP Home Edition, which is bundled with consumer models. While both versions of Windows XP are similar, the Professional edition has several added features that are better suited to a corporate environment.

Extra security features have been added to the Professional edition, such as the Administrator account. Unlike the Home Edition, where any user can log in and have full control of the operating system, in Professional, only users with Administrator level accounts can make changes to specific OS settings or even restrict the addition of new hardware, such as portable drives. Directories and files can also be restricted to allow for access only by specific users. Setting restrictions on directories is an easy way to prevent others from viewing confidential files, tampering with your data or even accidentally deleting it.

While the Home Edition features Remote Assistant, which is used for technical support when you're having problems, Professional has a full-featured Remote Desktop, which allows you to log in to your system remotely and use it as though you were in front of your computer.

Other features, such as Internet Information Services/Personal Web Server, extra networking features and multi-language support, are included with the Professional version.

Durability and Support
Since a business laptop is going to be lugged around from place to place, pay close attention to what it's made of. A casing made of titanium offers a solid protective shell while being relatively lightweight. Also, check the warranty on the laptop. Business models generally feature a three-year warranty as opposed to the one-year warranty on regular consumer machines.

Manufacturers often support more than one operating system on their business machines. For example, a laptop may come with Windows XP installed, but your company may prefer to run Microsoft Windows 2000 instead. With that in mind, manufacturers will make drivers for Windows 2000 available on their websites so that you don't have to search the Internet for the appropriate drivers.

Business Sense
While any laptop, including those geared towards the home user, may be suitable for a business environment, specific business models do merit special consideration. These models often feature the latest advancements in mobile computing, and they also focus on areas that are critical for a professional. Home systems often have extra "wow" features, which, while great for an average user, do not offer a lot of use to a business user. With business laptops, instead of spending extra money on the most powerful video card, which would be unnecessary if you're not playing the latest video games, your dollar goes towards other areas, such as a heavy-duty battery.

When seeking a laptop computer, think about "the right tool for the right job". Be sure to get the most bang for you buck by choosing an appropriate model that will fit your needs.