XP Installation Guide -Introduction
Ahh yes, wintertime is almost over. The snow is melting, it's beginning to warm up, and another big event is happening. No, I'm not talking about Ground Hog's Day or even Mardi Gras. I'm talking about my finally deciding to get off of my lazy bum and install this new software contraption from Microsoft called Windows XP Professional Edition.I've heard all the rumors about how stable it is, how easy to use it is, how well games run on it, and now it's time to see if it can live up to all this hype. I will be using my own personal computer as the guinea pig and venturing into new territory. Boldly running an operating system I have never run before. So follow along with me on this little excursion and you can get a peek at this new operating system and how easy it is to install.Gone are the days of planning a whole afternoon out for an installation that is only supposed to take 30-60 minutes, depending on the speed of your system. No more hour after hour long sessions of sitting at a boring screen with bad color clicking next, next, next, next, choosing options, next, next, next, reboot, next, next...well, you get the point.After installing this new version from Microsoft, I was surprised at how few choices it requires from the end user during setup, and how well it is automated. Since this will be an upgrade, and not a full installation requiring a full format of my C: drive and fresh setup, we will be starting from within Windows. In this case, I am running Windows 2000 Professional. Nearly any other version may be upgraded as well (i.e. Win95, 98, 98SE, and ME). So here we go, on to the first step.
XP Installation Guide -Let's Begin
Insert your Windows XP Setup CD and you are taken to this welcome screen:
Three choices are available. Install Windows XP, Perform additional tasks, and Check system compatibility. Let's look at these for a moment...- Install Windows XP
Since this is why we are here, that is what I will choose...in a minute. But first, lets take a look at the other two choices.- Perform Additional Tasks
I'm not too sure what this does, so let's click on it and find out.The first option is Set up a Remote Desktop Connection
. What this allows you to do is control one computer from another, as if you were sitting on its keyboard and mouse. Much cheaper than buying a KVM (Keyboard, video, mouse) switch. I use Netmeeting to control my WINS server on my home network from my main computer.The next option is to Set up a home or small office network
. Clicking this will start another setup program that will help you configure your network for ease of use by setting up various network services and protocols. I didn't choose to do this as I have my network set up already, but I imagine it would help out with viewing other computers in Network Neighborhood and transferring files to and from. This can be a problem if you don't have all your machines set up just right!Moving right along we come to a really neat tool labeled Transfer files and settings
. This will allow you to copy your configuration and saved files from one computer to another. For instance, if you do what a few of my friends do and build a whole new machine every so often, and hand down their current one to their kids. Now say you have your old computer set up just how you like it, and want it to be the same way on your new system. This will allow you to copy your settings and documents to the new computer via the network or a direct cable connection. This is similar to copying your profile from one NT based machine to another. Of course, if you are like me and actually enjoy doing the personalizing, then you would just skip this step and do it by hand (Kinda turns your computer into your own little masterpiece).Another common option if you have installed MS products before is Browse this CD
. Pretty straightforward, it just brings up Windows Explorer to let you look around on the disk. This was put on originally due to the great autorun file. Many users were used to double-clicking on the drive and have it open up files, but instead it pulls up the Welcome screen. You can either right-click and go to open, or just click on the browse option and go that way.Microsoft stuck to tradition once again by including the View release notes
option. This is a great way to find out what problems XP has with certain hardware and software at the time of release. I have yet to get anything useful from this file, but hey, you never know. There might be that one person out there who gets some good info from it.Since we are done looking at these options, click "Back" to return to the main screen.- Check system compatibility
This is a new feature that (given it actually works) will check your hardware and software to make sure you can install and run XP successfully. Microsoft has a list for people installing NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 called the Hardware Compatibility List. You can view this list on their web page, but again, I have yet to find any useful information there as the list is rather dated and doesn't have much as far as mainstream hardware. It mostly deals with low-performing new user hardware. Oh well, such is life right? I went ahead and ran the test, and it found something wrong with my sound card drivers, so I said to myself "Self, make sure you update those after you're done installing!"Now the moment you've all been waiting for; the guts of the setup process!
XP Installation Guide -The Installation
Clicking on Install Windows XP
takes you to this screen:
Here you will be asked whether to perform an upgrade or a full installation. I chose to upgrade since I am moving from Windows 2000 Professional. I imagine a full installation would entail rebooting and formatting your hard drive for a nice and clean install, albeit a longer one, but hey, you get out of your system what you put into it right?During this part of setup, the installation program will probe your hardware to see what devices you have installed and see if it can find its own drivers for them. If not, you will be prompted with a beautiful yellow and black exclamation point next to your hardware after you complete setup; letting you know you need to get the latest XP drivers for that device. I needed sound card drivers for my Live! X-Gamer. It says in the box there that it is normal for your monitor to flicker on and off, and this will happen 98% of the time as it is checking to see the best way to set up your video card and monitor. After it is done with it's probing, you are taken to the next step; updating setup files.
XP Installation Guide -Continuing On
XP's setup incorporates a new feature that I liked, but couldn't get to work (which I later discovered was due to my High-speed internet connection's DNS server problems). It will check your version of setup files on the CD, and then check to see if there are newer versions on the internet. If so, you can choose to download them and use them instead. Here is what the screen looks like:
Again, thanks to my great cable company, I was unable to download the new files, so I pressed on anyway and used the ones on the cd. This is what you don't want to see...
Once you hit the Next button, you can go grab a soda and some popcorn, sit back and enjoy the show. Setup has now collected all the information it needs from you, and will just hum along all by itself while it updates your computer. It will copy the setup files and run just like the other installations of yesteryear. It even completes the installation with about two reboots (including the final boot into XP). It took my computer about 15 minutes to chug through it, and shouldn't be much longer on relatively newer systems. Mine is only a T-Bird 900, so you guys with the XP processors and fasters CD-ROMs should zip right on through.At any rate, it's always interesting to read the little "billboards" that come up while it's working. The only thing you will be prompted for, is the OEM CD-Key we all love so much. Once all the grunt work is done, your computer is rebooted one last time, and after seeing the new little splash screen, you are welcomed by this beautiful sight:
XP Installation Guide -Finishing Touches
XP definitely strikes you as being the most different look since the jump from the plain boring 3.1 to Win9x. The colors and shading are very nice, and pleasing to the eye except for that nasty green Start button! It takes a bit to get used to the "My first Windows" look, but believe me, it quickly grows on you! The default desktop picture is rather nice; much better than those of the past as well (especially on the 21" monitor!)If the whole look doesn't appeal to you, XP lets you set the appearance back to that of Windows 2000, which I thought I would do right away, but ended up only getting rid of that hideously huge start menu! To do this, simply to go to Start, then Settings, Control Panel, then Taskbar and Start Menu. This window will come up:
Next, click on the "Start Menu" tab at the top, and you will see this:
That will get rid of the huge Start menu that almost takes up half your screen! Now onto the other look changes, like the title bars and taskbar. Right click your desktop, and click Properties. Click on the Appearance tab at the top and this sheet will come up:
Now you just choose Windows Classic Style, hit apply, and Viola!! Windows XP with a retro 2k look. Piece of cake.Conclusion
Well, that about wraps it up. I wish there was more to write about, but the installation is so simple, that even a person that is new to computers can perform this upgrade quickly and easily. So if you happen to get your hands on XP and are a little nervous about setting it up, don't sweat it!! Microsoft has made it a very painless procedure not to be feared by anyone.I have to give thanks real quick-like to my buddy Fatdaddy for helping me get hold of XP, and a special thanks to Mr. Tweak for adding me to the great team here at TweakTown. I am very fortunate to give back to such an awesome site. I hope you enjoyed this little excursion/guide into uncharted XP land and keep an eye out for more good stuff coming your way from TweakTown!