Windows XP (WinXP) is Microsoft’s newest operating system and biggest
upgrade in several years. It already has a reputation for being easier
to use than Win2000 and less crash prone than WinMe. Following on the heels
of WinNt/2000, MS improved WinXP’s ability to have a secure and stable
core. From Win9x/Me, MS enhanced WinXP so it has greater compatibility
with hardware and software along with features for working with digital
images, video, and audio.
WinXP handles the recordable CD drives built into most new computers.
To copy any file(s) to a recordable CD drive, right-click on the file(s),
choose Send To from the menu that appears, and select Writable CD. A little
window pops up with the message that you have files waiting to be copied
to the CD. Insert a writable CD into the drive, click the Start button,
and choose My Computer. Open your recordable CD with a double-click and
select Write these files to CD to copy them to your CD.
WIN98/Me/NT4.0/2000 were Windows versions that one could use to run
older, Disk Operating System (DOS) based software or even earlier versions
of Windows. WinXP is meant to replace all of the current Windows platforms,
so it has extensive resources to ensure compatibility with older problems.
However, if one of your programs won’t run under WinXP, try the built-in
compatibility support by right-clicking the program, choosing Properties,
and clicking the Compatibility tab. Now select the platform that was previously
able to run the program and check off any pertinent display settings. Finish
by clicking OK and then try to run that program. If you still have a problem
running it, use different settings. If all of these steps fail, you can
then use the Application Compatibility Toolkit by inserting the WinXP CD-ROM,
navigating to the Support\Tools folder, and launching Act20.exe. When the
toolkit is installed on your computer, run the QFixApp applet. This utility
contains about 200 fixes to resolve compatibility problems.
By default WinXP has only one icon on the Desktop, the Recycle Bin.
If you miss seeing My Documents, My Computer, Internet Explorer, etc.,
on the Desktop, as with previous Windows versions, you can revive them
by right-clicking on the Desktop, choosing Properties, clicking on the
Desktop tab, and then the Customize Desktop button. Now check any of the
icons for the aforementioned items that you want on your Desktop.
In WinXP the computer is programmed such that the Start menu recognizes
frequently used programs and puts them at the top of the quick list, bumping
less frequently used programs to the bottom or off the menu. To keep a
favorite program at your fingertips, right-click the link to the program
on the Start menu and select “Pin To Start Menu.” Your program then moves
to the top of the lists below your browser and e-mail programs. The program
remains on the Start menu and can not be bumped even if you use other programs
more frequently than that one.
Firewall software sits between your computer and the Internet. It acts
as a door that lets you decide what software can access your computer,
and when. WinXP comes with a built-in firewall. To install it, open the
Start menu, right-click My Network Places and choose Properties. Right-click
on the connection you want to protect and choose Properties. If using a
dial-up account right-click on that icon. If using a network in your home
or office, right-click on the Local Area Connection. Either way, choose
Properties and then click the Advanced tab and activate the firewall. Click
the box to activate the WinXP firewall. If you're running a network and
using the Internet Connection Sharing to let all the networked computers
share the modem, the firewall should only be activated on the host computer,
which is the computer that's actually connected to the Internet. It doesn't
need to be activated on the client computers, which are the computers that
share the host computer's modem.
Hiding inactive icons is a new feature with WinXP. This option lets
you hide those little icons like the volume control, printer button, RealPlayer,
the desktop cleanup program, etc., that appear by your clock. Click the
Customize button to choose which icons you want to hide or appear on the
taskbar. For example, you can click the Customize button and choose Restore
Defaults to hide everything except the sound volume. Choose Always Show
for that one.
To set up Internet time synchronization in WinXP, right-click the time
display on the taskbar, choose Adjust Date/Time, click the Internet Time
tab, and check Automatically synchronize with an Internet time server.
Now choose one of the servers on the drop-down list, click Update Now,
and finally click OK. WinXP will synchronize with the time server automatically
once a week. If your Internet connection is intermittent, XP will try to
sync at regular intervals until it succeeds in this task.
Every 60 days WinXP checks for icons that you haven’t used on the Desktop
during that period of time. Subject to your approval, it will move those
icons from the Desktop to a folder. If this feature gives you a problem,
disable it by removing the check next to “Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every
60 days.” You can click the Clean Desktop Now button to invoke the wizard
manually should you change your mind.
Click the Shop for Music Online hyperlink in the Music Tasks section
of the My Music folder navigation pane to look for new albums and videos
online. After clicking this link, Windows connects you to the MSN Windows
Media.com Web site. Once there, you can search for audio and video clips
that can be downloaded and played on Windows Media Player.
WinXP has Remote Assistance (RA) which lets you control another computer
on a network (LAN or Internet) and interact with the remote machine’s user.
The two RA connected personal computers (PCs) are the Expert and the Novice.
The Expert can see and take control of the other PC. The Novice loads only
the tools that let the two users communicate. Once the connection is established,
each party can then type messages, exchange files, and converse using microphone
and speakers or headsets. The Expert PC can take full control of the Novice
PC and seek solutions to his computer problems. On connection the RA interface
appears on the Expert’s desktop and a smaller RA window appears on the
Novice PC. Both function as chat windows and central controls for file
transfer, voice chat, and disconnecting the session. You can start an RA
session in three ways: through Windows Messenger (WM), e-mail, or by sending
a file. WM is the easiest way, but both parties must have it installed
on their computers. WM installs with WinXP and replaces MSN Messenger.
Using WM, either party can invoke the RA session by right-clicking on the
other person’s name in the contact area of the WM window, or by selecting
“Ask for Remote Assistance” from the Tools menu. In this latter case, the
Novice can request an RA session from anyone on WM’s contact list or by
choosing Other and specifying the e-mail address of another MSN/Hotmail/Passport
user. The expert can ask an MSN/Hotmail user to allow an RA session by
using WM’s “Invite” menu or by clicking Tools/Send an Invitation. The Expert
can also send a request to an MSN/Hotmail user who’s not on the contact
You can invoke RA through e-mail or file transfer by using the “Help
and Support” screen. Click Start, Help and Support or press F1. Under the
“Ask for Assistance” heading, select “Invite a friend to connect to your
computer” with Remote Assistance to initiate an RA request. If you invite
someone to help you, the next screen gives you the option of selecting
a WM contact or typing an e-mail address and sending it through your default
e-mail program. Once you’ve typed in the e-mail address for your helper,
click Invite this person, fill in the e-mail message form, and click Continue.
The final screen lets the Novice set an expiration date for the invitation
which can remain open for up to 99 days. The invitation is a file attachment
(RAInvitation.msrcincident) with an incident number appended in parentheses.
This same file is created if the Novice invokes RA by saving the invitation
as a file, but then the Novice must send it to the Expert. In either case,
the Expert opens the file in order to launch the RA session.
WinXP extensively uses “ScreenTips” to provide a way of adding commentary
or footnotes to features. When you run your mouse pointer over a certain
part of the screen, a little black-outlined, pale-yellow rectangle pops
up with some more or less informative text. In a few cases, such as with
some Internet search results, this text can amount to a paragraph's worth
of context-sensitive material.
Silence New Programs
WinXP displays a dialog box when you install new software. It’s a distraction
when you’re logging off or shutting down your computer. You can prevent
the box from appearing by clicking Start, right-clicking at the top of
the Start menu, where your name is displayed, and then clicking Properties.
In the “Taskbar And Start Menu Properties” dialog box, click the Start
Menu tab and Customize. Now click the Advanced tab and clear the “Highlight
Newly Installed Programs” check box. Finally click OK twice.
As with previous Windows’ versions, WinXP includes a Startup folder
that launches applications or utilities. Each application takes time to
launch, which lengthens startup time. So, go to the Startup folder, click
Start, All Programs, and highlight Startup. The menu then expands with
all entries in the Startup folder. Now remove or delete unnecessary programs.
When you restart your computer, the disabled applications won’t load thereby
reducing startup time.
Like WinMe, WinXP includes a feature that lets you set restore points
in the event of a botch installation or major system problem. To create
a store point, open “All Programs” in the Start menu. Select Accessories,
System Tools, and click System Restore. In the System Restore window, click
Create A Restore Point and click Next. Now enter a descriptive name for
the restore point and click Create. To revert to a particular restore point,
open the “System Restore Wizard” and select Restore My Computer To An Earlier
Time. Click a date to see a list of restore points created on that date.
Select the one you want and click Next twice to restore your system.
XP Readiness Test
To find out if your computer’s hardware and software can be upgraded
to WinXP, run the XP
Readiness Test .
WAV To A Relative
To send baby's voice to a loved one or a personalized email with a
voice message, you can use the “Windows Sound Recorder,” that's located
in Start, Programs, Accessories, Entertainment and finally, Sound Recorder,
for this task. You should use the buttons on it just like a tape recorder
to save the file and then attach it to an email message.
Win98/Me/NT4.0/2000 users can all use the XP Professional upgrade.
However only Win98/Me users can use the WinXP Home Edition upgrade.