WINDOWS XP Microsoft released Windows XP to much fanfare. Touted as the biggest Operating System release since Windows 95, Microsoft Windows XP combines the stability of Windows 2000 with the consumer oriented features of Windows ME. Windows XP is available in two version: Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional. The latter is meant for the corporate environment, though some people choose to use it as home. The primary differences is how Windows XP Professional handles networking and supporting domains. The Windows XP Interface The Windows XP Interface is slightly different than previous versions of Windows. Ok, that was an understatement. Quite frankly, the new interface takes some getting used to! The first thing you'll notice (if you installed XP yourself fresh) is the lack of desktop icons. In the illustration below, I actually had to add some desktop icons to make them appear. Normally, they wouldn't be there. Click to see a larger version In addition, the Start Menu is different, the System Tray hides unused icons (my favorite feature of Windows XP), and windows will "stack" similar windows when you start filling up the Taskbar. At first, I found this feature annoying but grew to love it. I can have 20 Internet Explorer windows open at once and only have one tab on the Taskbar for Internet Explorer. What an interface improver! If you find after playing with the Interface, you want to return to the "days of old" with the classic Windows look, its easy to change back. Check out our How to Change Your Windows XP Interface to Look Like the Classic Windows tutorial to find out how easy. Good, for those of you who have decided to stick it through and learn the Windows XP environment, I am confident after you use it for awhile, you will grow to love it. First, let's look at the Start menu. The Windows XP Interface - The Start Menu The Start Menu is the first place you will see the most dramatic change in the Windows XP interface. Your simple one-columned look of the old Start Menu is gone - replaced by the two- columned Start Menu & Desktop replacer all-in-one. Everything on the Start Menu is customizable, so if you want to change the icons or the way it looks, it's possible. On the left hand side, you see icons for the Internet and E-mail (you can change these to your browser or favorite email program), and a list of the most recently used applications, then the "All Programs" menu, which used to be your Programs menu. On the right hand side, you see the icons which you previously accessed through desktop icons, some settings, and other commands from the former Start Menu. Click to see a larger version The recently opened applications list is built by Windows to be your most commonly access applications. If you find icons on there you want removed, simply right-click on them and choose "Remove from This List". Windows XP Autoupdates & Autoupdating Windows XP is designed to help with your computing. One of its main features is its ability to automatically download updates (service packs, security patches, etc.) and store them or automatically apply them. The Automatic Updates service gives you three options: 1. Automatically download updates and notify you to install them. 2. Notify you to download updates and notify you to selectively install them. (Recommended) 3. Do not automatically download updates. We recommend the second option primarily because we want to know the updates Microsoft is downloading and sometimes prevent certain updates from installing until we know they will be safe for our systems. When you first start using Windows XP, you probably keep seeing this information balloon popup: Click inside the "Stay current with automatic updates" balloon will bring up the Automatic Updates Wizard: Click the Next> button to choose which Automatic Updates setup you would like on your system. Choose the option you want for your system, click Next and then Finish. That's it! You've setup your Automatic Updates. If you would like to change or see your Automatic Updates settings, you can right-click on "My Computer" and choose properties, or open the System control panel. Here you can change your setting or just view what you have already selected. If you choose for your updates to download automatically, you occasionally may see a popup balloon telling you the updates are ready to be installed and when you click you will view a window similar to this one: You can unselect items or leave them all and click on Install. Your Automatic Updates settings are finished! Make Windows XP Look Like Windows ME or 2000 Microsoft designed Windows XP with a different look and feel from previous operating systems. When you first experience the user environment, you may or may not like it. In my case, I didn't like it, but I decided to give it a chance before moving back to the look and feel of Windows 2000. After a few weeks of use, I got accustomed to the Windows XP environment and now I have it on by default on all of my machines. For user training issues, or just because you like the "Windows Classic" look, you may want to change your computer to look like the days of old. With Windows XP, it's a simple thing to change to the old ways or keep the new look. In addition, you can change the Start menu to the old look or keep it, and change the theme to the old or keep it, separately. To change your theme to the Windows Classic theme, right-click on your desktop and choose "Properties". Click on the Pull Down List labeled "Theme": Change the theme to Windows Classic. Click OK to apply and save these settings. Next, we can choose to keep the Start menu in the new Windows XP fashion or change it to look like the old Start Menu. Right-click anywhere on the taskbar where there isn't an icon and choose properties: Click to see a larger version Next, click on the Start Menu tab at the top, then choose "Classic Start menu". Click OK to apply and save your changes. Click to see a larger version Congratulations! Your environment has returned to the look of old, the Windows Classic look. How to Set Your Internet Explorer Security and Privacy Options Internet Explorer contains many security and privacy settings to help users when surfing the Internet. With the explosion of Internet based worms and viruses, it is a great idea to understand the security settings on your own computer so you can protect yourself. This combined with a firewall and antivirus software will help protect you from the wild out there. Internet Explorer supports many security “zones”, or areas you will be using Internet Explorer, and supports different security settings for each zone. You can customize the security in IE to support many different configurations or requirements. Open Internet Explorer. Go to the Tools menu and select Internet Options. Click on the Security tab. At the top, you see each zone in which security can be customized. The Internet zone affects sites on the Internet which you haven't placed in the Trusted or Restricted zones. At the bottom, you see the “Security level for this zone”, that is the security level which the Internet is currently configured at, Medium. There are five security levels you should be aware of: Low, Medium-low, Medium, High, and Custom. Low is designed with the minimum safeguards and prompts. Most content is run or downloaded without any prompts. Active content, such as scripting, runs without prompting you. This setting should probably never be used, it should only be used on sites which are completely trusted. Medium-low is the same as Medium but with less frequent prompts. It is appropriate for your local intranet sites or sites you completely trust. Medium is the default security level for the Internet. It is the most functional while preventing things like “unsigned ActiveX controls” from being downloaded. High is the security level for Restricted sites by default. It prevents most potentially harmful items from being downloaded and provides the least functionality. Custom is the security level when you have changed specific security settings in one of the prepackaged security levels. Click on the Custom Level button to change specific settings within the framework of the current security level. Browse through the list of the settings and peruse the functionality you can enable or disable through the security settings. You should be familiar with this list and the items you can customize in the security options. Click on the Privacy tab of Internet Options. This section allows you to customize the handling of personally-identifiable information – such as website cookies. Years ago, cookies got a bad rap from websites which track their users, however, from a website perspective they are very easy to use to allow for a better experience for users. There are six different levels you can set your cookie handling from Block All Cookies to Accept All Cookies. In addition, you can change options manually in with the Advanced button and also Edit individual sites to manual tweak the cookie handling on your machine. Security is a very important part of any operating system and understanding the security functions of Internet Explorer is essential to securing your machine. How to Configure an Internet Dialup Connection Next Page / Return to Windows XP Tutorials Setting up a dialup connection to the Internet is a common task. This tutorial will help you setup your connection so you can surf today! Open up Network Connections in the Control Panel and choose the Create a new network connection button on the lefthand side. Click Next. Choose “Connect to the Internet” and click Next. We are going to setup our connection manually. Choose this option and click Next. Choose “Connect using a dial-up modem” and click Next. Name your ISP and click Next. How to Configure an Internet Dialup Connection (Continued) Previous Page / Return to Windows XP Tutorials Enter the phone number you would like to dial and click Next. Enter your username and password for this connection and click Next. Click Finish. It will automatically launch the connection dialog box. If you would like to connect, you can do so now, otherwise, you have this new icon in your Network Connections: Congratulations! You have completed your setup of your new dialup connection.
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