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Windows XP Go back to Previous Page

What does the Windows XP operating system do?
Can I upgrade from Windows 98/ME or 2000?
Should I perform an upgrade straight over my old Windows?
How do I reformat my hard disk drive?
Should I upgrade to Service Pack 2 for Windows XP?
How do I use Windows Backup and should I?
What is a System Restore Point?
What are my internet connection options?
How do I filter out third party cookies?
Can Windows help me print my digital camera pictures ?
What can I do about the lines across my printed photos?
Can I play my DVDs and CDs in my PC?
Can I burn my files to CD for safe keeping?
Can I rip my CD to MP3 files to play on my MP3 player?
How do I use MSN Messenger?
How do I watch or capture TV shows to my PC?
How do I convert my analog video to video files on my PC?


What does the Windows XP operating system do? Back to Top
A person could write a whole book and still not describe everything the Windows XP operating system does. Here is a brief explanation.

The Windows operating system provides the link between the user and the hardware such as keyboard, mouse display, disk drives etc. It gives the user an interface with which commands are issued to the core of the operating system which then decides what it needs to do based on the instructions within the operating system's programming.

By providing a graphical windowing interface that is largely controlled by the movements of a mouse, Windows simplifies the tasks that were once only available to the user via a command line where a user typed in complex commands to instruct the computer to perform it's required work.

Application programs interface with Windows using a mechanism called an API (Application Program Interface) which allows the program to talk to Windows for such things as reading and writing files to disk, displaying information for the user and interacting with printers, scanners etc.

The above describes what any modern operating system does. Windows XP provides facilities to extend it's usefulness. There are applications included to allow internet browsing (Internet Explorer), email management (Outlook Express), Scheduled Tasks (Task Scheduler), drawing (Paint), calculator, sound recording and playback media playback for CD and audio/video file (Media Player). Again these are features that have been available since the early versions of Windows.

What do they offer in XP? XP is a much more secure and stable operating system than earlier versions. XP offers better control over crashing applications. Service Pack 2 introduced a much better security approach - preferring to disable open features in networking etc rather than leaving the decision to do so up to the user. They also provided a better firewall.

XP offers many other features such as wizards for CD burning via Windows Explorer, printing pictures, network drive mapping etc It's visual interface is "enhanced" using such things as font smoothing, rounded corners on windows etc. Increased hardware and software compatibility. Improved system restore. Smart task oriented folders - eg picture folder provides a menu for common tasks such as slideshow, printing, copying etc. Remote Assistance is available for remote debugging of problems over a network.

Can I upgrade from Windows 98 SE ,Windows ME, Windows NT or 2000? Back to Top
Yes... but with reservation and only if you qualify for the XP version you want.
Windows 3.1 - No
Windows 95 - No
Windows 98/SE - Yes
Windows ME - Yes
Windows NT3.5 - No
Windows NT 4 - can only be upgraded to the XP Professional Edition.
Windows 2000 Professional - can only be upgraded to the XP Professional Edition.
Windows XP Home - Yes, to Professional Edition
Windows XP Professional - No, to Home Edition
Windows XP Media Centre - No

Should I perform an upgrade straight over my old Windows? Back to Top
Unless you are forced to because of unavailable install disks for other software, we would recommend the upgrade to be done cleanly. In other words, back-up your old data, reformat the drive and install the upgrade. You will most likely be prompted for the original Windows disk from which you are upgrading.

How do I reformat my hard disk drive? Back to Top
That depends on whether you are installing an operating system on the drive or it is a second or third hard drive for data.
If the former, the install disk will give you an opportunity to format the drive. If the latter, you can format a drive by going through Control Panel>Administrative Tools>Computer Management>Disk Management.
Right click on the drive you wish to format, create and delete partitions and format them.





Should I upgrade to Service Pack 2 for Windows XP? Back to Top
Yes, but before installing SP2 you MUST DO A COMPLETE BACKUP OF THE SYSTEM. SP2 has been known to not work with some hardware drivers and with some older software. If you do install and you have a hardware problem or your favourite software package is broken, you may be able to uninstall SP2 successfully, but there are certainly no guarantees. If you have backed up your system, you will at least be able to restore to a known working system.
Microsoft support for Windows XP Service Pack 1, Home and Professional, ends on 10th October 2006.

How do I use Windows Backup and should I? Back to Top
Any back up utility is better than none. XP Pro setup installs the Backup automatically, but Home does not. It must be installed from the XP Home CD.
Find Backup at Start>All programs>Accessories>System tools. Backup can be used in Advanced mode, or follow the Wizard. If using the wizard, choose Back up files and settings. Make your choice on what you want to back up. Choose your destination. (Backup will not back up direct to CD, even though it says it will. You must create your backup as a set of small files - less than 650mb or 700mb depending on your CDs - save them, then burn to CD.) Check the information presented on screen then click Finish to start the backup. There is still access to the Advanced button if you wish to add more criteria to the backup.
Advanced mode is recommended for experienced users.

What is a System Restore Point? Back to Top
This is the way your system was at a particular point in time. XP will automatically produce its own SRP (System Restore Point) but you can also choose to make your own by using the System Restore Wizard (Start>All programs>Accessories>System tools>System restore). You may want to do this if you are about to install new software, or make other important changes to your system.
System Restore will reinstate XP's settings, as well as those for applications, and it undoes changes to drivers, applications and critical XP files. It does not affect files in the My Documents folder, email messages, browsing history or your current password. It also disables any application installed after the Restore Point. If you want to continue using the application, you will have to reinstall it (although System Restore does not fully uninstall applications, so if you don't want it, you will have to uninstall through Start>Control Panel>Add or Remove programs).

What are my internet connection options? Back to Top
Assuming you do not already have an ISP (Internet Service Provider) you will need to find one that has a plan that suits you. You will need to decide whether you are going dial-up or broadband (cable or ADSL).

Dial-up will limit you to 56kbps and it will lock up your telephone whilst you are on-line.

Broadband - ADSL uses your phone line but doesn't lock up your phone. You will have much higher rates of transfer (at least 5 - 10 times dial-up speeds) but the speed will depend on the plan you choose and the distance from your exchange to you. Some localities cannot have ADSL because of the alternate phone technologies or the exchange is simply not capable yet.

Broadband - Cable is typically very fast and of course doesn't tie up your phone as it uses the same cable feed provided for Pay TV - eg. Foxtel, Optus etc.

Broadband - Satellite is not a very good alternative and at times is hardly worth the extra trouble. It is quite expensive compared to dial-up and ADSL but in some locations, especially rural communities, it is the only alternative to dial-up.

The method of setting up the connection depending on which technology you choose and possibly which provider you go through. Essentially, the process goes something like this:

1. Connect your modem (Dial-up, ADSL or Cable) to the PC
2. Install any software required for the modem
3. Set up connection under PC networking
4. Set up modem (ADSL and Cable login and protocol selections)
5. Test connection

The setup may be automated by some ISPs or they may prefer a technician of their own to come out and install the connection. The point is though, this procedure is usually very quick and painless on Windows XP.

How do I filter out third party cookies? Back to Top
Third-party cookies are sometimes considered an invasion of privacy. See Spyware You can filter out most of these cookies by changing the settings in your browser.

For Internet explorer:
1. Go to the menu - Tools/Internet Options
2. Click on the 'Privacy' tab
3. Click on the 'Advanced' button
4. Check the 'Overide Automatic Cookie Handling' box
5. Select 'Block Third Party Cookies' and click on 'OK'

For Mozilla Firefox:
1. Go to the menu - Tools/Options
2. Click on the 'Privacy' icon
3. Click on the 'Cookies' tab
4. Check the 'For the originating site only' box

Opera and other browsers have similar options available.

Can Windows help me print my digital camera pictures ? Back to Top
You can download your photos directly from your digital camera into My Pictures, or any other folder that you have set up, then it is easy to work with them. If you want to print your own photos, in the Task Pane, click Print this photo, to open the Photo Printing Wizard. The wizard steps you through selecting images for printing, choosing printer options, and then selecting a layout (anything from 8x10 to thumbnail "contact prints").

What can I do about the lines across my printed photos? Back to Top
These lines will most likely indicate that your inkjet printer has a blocked nozzle, or that one of your colours is empty. Most printers have a utility that pops up to tell you that you need to replace a cartridge. if a nozzle is blocked it can most times be unblocked by running it through a maintenance cycle. Look in your printer user guide to find how to run its maintenance utility. Here you can run a nozzle check, clean the nozzles and print test pages to check on the cleaning process.
Inkjet printers really need to be used regularly, at least a couple of times a week, to keep the ink flowing freely.

Can I play my DVDs and CDs in my PC? Back to Top
Yes and no. A music CD can be played in your PC through Windows Media Player. Simply pop the CD into the CD drive and Media Player will open ready for you to play. DVDs are a different story. You will have to purchase a software DVD player such as WINDVD (our preference) or PowerDVD (or similar), and have a DVD Rom Drive installed in your PC to enable you to watch DVDs on your computer. If you have purchased a new PC or have had a DVD Rom Drive installed, the software may have come bundled with the unit.

Can I burn my files to CD for safe keeping? Back to Top
If you have a CD writer (burner) installed in your PC it is easy to burn your files to CD. This is a basic function in XP. As long as the total file size you wish to burn is less than 700mb they will fit. (Check the capacity of the discs to which you wish to burn.) You can back up your data files onto data CDs, and make picture CDs with your photos and also audio CDs with your music in this manner.

Can I rip my CD to MP3 files to play on my MP3 player? Back to Top
At the present time, in Australia, it is illegal to copy or rip copyrighted material from a CD. In the meantime, until a "Fair Use" law is introduced here - as in the US - we recommend that you understand this. XP cannot rip a CD to MP3 natively as it does not have a encoder, so to achieve this an external application is required.

How do I use MSN Messenger? Back to Top
You must first either register your existing e-mail address or you can get a free e-mail account through Hotmail www.hotmail.com You can then download MSN Messenger - Download messenger here

Once installed, using it is easy! After opening MSN Messenger, you can add a new contact to build up your contact list by choosing the Contacts menu from the top or clicking on the icon. You will need to enter the e-mail address of the person you wish to add. To become a contact, they must also have installed MSN Messenger and have a registered e-mail address.

The holder of the e-mail address you enter will get notification of being added by you and they can either accept (and you will become one of their contacts as well) or they can choose to block you from becoming a contact.

You can add as many contacts as you like. To chat in real-time, both contacts must appear to be online. You can right click on the name of your contact in your list and choose: 'Send Other' then 'Send Instant Message'. If a contact appears to be offline, you may wish to send them an e-mail instead.

How do I watch or capture TV shows to my PC? Back to Top
There are now many PC cards and USB devices that provide this feature. The type of capture device you choose will depend on finances, quality, analogue or digital TV or both, Video-In support, Video-out support, Hardware or software encoding etc.

There are several brand names that have been mentioned on various forums, Hauppauge, Pinnacle, Leadtek's Winfast and Compro. All seem to have their advantages and quirks. Some come with more flexible software and some come with the most basic of software packages. Almost all come with applications to perform the recording, editing and DVD or VCD production.

We have been using the Winfast PVR2000 (retail approx. AU$140) for some time now with little cause for complaint. Some aspects of the PVR software could do with some sprucing up but all in all we find the card produces very satisfactory recordings.

As with most TV cards, the software has the means to schedule the recording of TV shows according to time and channel and you can schedule weekly and daily shows as well. It certainly saves us from fiddling with the VCR every few days setting up program recordings.

How do I convert my analogue video to video files on my PC? Back to Top
See also the previous item.
Capturing analogue video to a PC involves the use of a capture card with the appropriate inputs to suit your video source, be it a camcorder or a vcr or a security camera in your building. Most use composite or s-video connections.
The software that came with your capture device will allow you to select the correct video source after which you'll be able to record the video to disk.

We use a Winfast PVR2000 PCI capture card for transfer of our analog tapes to VCD and DVD. I have used Hauppauge and Pinnacle cards but found that the results were less than acceptable.

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