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Upgrading to Windows XP
Far easier than I thought

Marion and Joe Barth are volunteers with APCO and with the American Red Cross. They like to travel and spoil their grand daughters. 

We decided that we were going to have to learn the newest system if we were going to teach either Senior Comp students or those in some short classes being developed. Most new computers are delivered with either the home or professional version of Windows XP and we were using Win 98SE.

We obtained a copy of Windows XP Professional for our Toshiba laptop and we figured that we would try the dreaded “upgrade” from the 98SE instead of a “clean” install.

Our reasoning, such as it was, was that we have a small hard drive on the laptop and Joe has been making noises about getting a bigger one. Try the upgrade and if it crashes the computer, no sweat since all the important data has been backed up and the new hard drive could have the XP installed to a completely clean drive.

So we opened the box and pulled out the contents. There was a folder with the CD and a small manual covering the installation.

We were urged to run the compatibility check as part of the installation just to be sure we knew whether our hardware and software was compatible. We were told that our BIOS was outdated so we downloaded the latest from the supplier. That took about an hour since the laptop only has a modem and I couldn’t use the DSL. (Gads! We forgot just how slow a modem really is).

There were a few warnings about some of the software and about some printers that were in memory but don’t exist in our house.  After that we clicked “install” and we were off to the races.

I was told that it would take 72 minutes to install so I relaxed, played a few computer games on the big machine and watched.  It took about 80 minutes for the installation to complete and I was asked a few more questions.

For example, each user can have their own password, screen configuration and you can lock out the users ability to do anything to programs, hard drives, etc.  Joe is logged in as the system administrator and Marion has her own screen along with “a guest” to allow the grandkids access if necessary (while traveling for example).

The controversial “activation” feature popped up and I was given the option of activating the system and registration at the same time. The computer dialed an 800 number and I watched to see how long it took. At two minutes 10 seconds I was told activation had failed and to try again later.

I finished the prompts and wound up back at the same basic startup screen I was used to with a few changes at the very bottom where the green “start” button and blue bar of the distinctive XP screen were. Everything looked the same as before basically and I was also looking at a “thing” like the terrible paperclip help aid found in Word.

It went away but a balloon offered to have me activate the XP system so I tried it. At one minute seven seconds a screen appeared and told me that I had successfully activated the system and thanked me.

Everything seems to be working well as we prepare this report in order to get it in for our editors deadline and I am really pleased with the ease of upgrading.  Heck, we might even try it on the big machine with all the devices hooked to it.

The system identified a problem with the DVD player on the Toshiba and, with permission, called the number and started downloading. All of a sudden the screen saver kicked in and it looked like I lost about 30 minutes of downloading time.

I went back to the guest access and the download was still ticking away which would not be true under the old system. 

You know, I think I might just like XP. It took me six years to give up Windows 3.1 so adopting a new system is a big jump for us but this time it just may be worth it.

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