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Microsoft wants you to believe that Windows XP soars at making digital home movies.....I don't buy it. Windows XP has many fine features and even an advantage or two over the Mac. But as a movie-making platform, it's farther from Hollywood than Buffalo, N.Y. Indeed, with its new iDVD 2 software, Apple has only strengthened the Mac's lead as the premiere platform for moving pictures.

Windows XP does indeed include a video-editing program, Windows Movie Maker. But several factors make the Mac and Apple's free iMovie software a better digital video studio. For starters, of all the Windows desktop and laptop systems available, only a few contain FireWire jacks. FireWire, also called iLink and 1394 in the Windows world, is the connection scheme used by today's mini-DV-format camcorders--and it's built into every Mac.
So unless that Microsoft Kid shops carefully, he'll have to buy, install and perhaps troubleshoot a third-party expansion card before he can even get his video into Windows XP.

And then he'd find a nearly barren editing room. Windows Movie Maker lacks iMovie's array of special effects, transitions and audio controls. To add text titles to your Windows movies, you must create the titles in a separate program, and the titles can't be superimposed over video scenes.

Windows Movie Maker also falls short at getting edited video out of the computer. Even if you have a FireWire card, you can't record your video back to tape without buying a third-party program. This isn't to say you can't equip Windows XP for video editing. Several companies make terrific video add-ons for XP. But they're add-ons: They cost extra, and getting them to work together can require some troubleshooting.

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