Make your own free website on

First Impressions

Windows Assistance

Go To
Windows XP
Virus Info Center
Windows Web Sites
Windows XP Books
Tips From The Past
Searching For
Microsoft Security Bulletins
About This Site
Search Me

Advanced Search

Search The Web

Advanced Search


Windows XP: First Impressions October 1, 2001

Windows Assistance has been using Windows XP Professional RC1 for about 3-weeks.

First the good news: Windows XP Professional is better then all versions of Windows 9X, especially Windows Me. It's faster, more reliable, and uses a much better file system (NTFS.)

There is more good news: Windows Assistance uses a 6-year old computer, a 200MHz Pentium machine with 96MBytes of memory. Windows XP Professional works just fine. I have had no problems using this new OS. Even though this is an old machine the OS will perform a Hibernate. Couldn't do this with Windows Me. This new OS (Really Windows 2000 Professional with new wrappings) has not crashed, or failed to restart after hibernation.

I needed to get updated drivers for my Courier V.Everything modem and the Wacom Tablet. No problems were encountered installing these new drivers.

Video Settings: Windows XP ran some test and decided that we should be using 32-bit color. Since my video adapter only goes to 24-bit this wasn't a good idea. Windows XP installed the proper video adapter driver so I at a loss as to why it wanted to use an improper color setting. We were able to cancel this suggestion and Windows XP set the video adapter to the lowest setting supported by the OS. No problem. We just went to the desktop properties and changed the settings to what we have been using.

Be careful. If and when Windows XP tells you it is going to test for best resolution and you get a window that you can't read then hit the Escape button.

The rest of the story: Windows Assistance has loaded Windows XP Professional to a blank NTFS partition (Full Installation.) We have also upgraded an existing Windows 98 system.

First the upgrade: There were no problems with the upgrade. It worked OK. The only problem we encountered was with Microsoft applications. They needed to be reloaded. We didn't bother doing this since we were going to do the full install next. Windows XP Professional also didn't ask if we wanted to convert to the NTFS file system. Something we wanted to do. Other than these two complaints we have with the upgrade we still liked the end results. It worked!

Wait, there's more: Windows XP Professional has one quirky problem and I believe it applies to Windows 2000 Professional also. Windows XP had problems recognizing the IRQ of serial ports. It appears to assign the default IRQ for a port and leave it at that. It may only apply to older machines. With the new machines with updated BIOS this shouldn't be a problem. If you have any serial port problems check the IRQ for the port.

Now the full installation: No problems encountered except for problems with the serial ports. To understand how we have setup our systems refer to Part One of our Windows Me experience. We use 5 partitions. For the Windows XP full install we only converted the C: partition to the NTFS file system. The remaining partitions will remain as FAT32 partitions for the near future. Until we stop using Windows 98 we need access to these partitions.

Deep, Deep, Blue -- Really Over The Top
Control Panel 
with Common Tasks Explorer Bar

What about the Windows XP Desktop? Microsoft needs to hire someone who understands the psychology of color. Could you work while someone is screaming at you? That's the way we felt while trying to use the Windows XP desktop. That intense blue color they use for everything is useless. The first thing we did was try to change the blue to some other color. Can't do it. It's part of a theme. We instead chose to use the Windows Classic style and modify the colors to our liking. Go to the Desktops properties sheet and select the Appearance tab. Select the Windows Classic style and whatever color scheme is closest to what you want. Then click the Advance button and change colors and fonts just as with Windows 9X. Now select the Themes tab and save your desktop setting. Choose a unique name for your theme.

Common tasks? What common tasks? It's easier to show you than try to C explain. From any Explorer window select Folder Options from the Tools menu. From the General tab in the Task box you have two choices: Show common tasks in folders or Use Windows classic folders. The default for Windows XP is Show common tasks in folders. Use Windows classic folders gives you a familiar Windows 9X look. I've gone back to using Use Windows classic folders. Show common tasks in folders seem to just get in the way. This is especially true with the Control Panel. The choice is yours.

Two quick tips: Tip 1 - The first item of business once the installation is complete is to create a new user. this is important because the FIRST new user becomes the Administrator of that computer. So if you don't want someone other than yourself taking control of your computer, like your son, then you want to setup the first user and give this user a good password. I know -- you don't like passwords. Get used to them. It's your first level of security and security is number one in today's world.

Connection Status: General Tab
Connection Status: Details Tab

Tip 2 - You will find your Dial-up connections in the the Network Connections folder with other network connection types. This folder can be reached from the Control Panel. Go through the Properties sheet for you Dial-up connection. Remember -- Right-click and select Properties. It's all there and it's far easier to customize each connection. One nice feature of the new Dial-up connection is whenever you replace your modem or update the driver Windows XP will automatically update your dial-up connection to reflect the changes.

Once you have logged on to the Internet you can view the status of your connection. Double-click your connection icon and you will get the Status sheet for your connection. From the General you can view basic connection information as well as go to the Properties sheet and Disconnect your connection. The Details tab give you information on how you are connected. Notice it gives you your IP address as well as the IP address of the server (Internet Service Provider.)

Books: There still is no Missing Manual for Windows XP. note: Windows Assistance was recently informed that there wouldn't be a Windows XP Missing Manual until early 2002. We have been using the Windows 2000 Professional: The Missing Manual and Windows 2000 Quick Fixes from O'Reilly. If you can't wait for the release of the Windows XP Professional: The Missing Manual then check out the list of Windows XP books here.

Conclusion: A month ago I would have said don't bother with Windows XP if you were happy with Windows 98. We were planning to wait for at least 6 months before we stopped using Windows 98. After our short experience with Windows XP we have now pushed that up to whenever Microsoft releases the retail version of Windows XP in late October 2001.