Windows XP Weekend Crash Course


Get up to speed on Windows XP - in a weekend!

The big day is Monday. The day you get to show off what you know about Windows XP. The problem is, you're not really up to speed. Maybe it's been a while since you used the Windows operating system. Perhaps you're interested in the enhancements that have been made to the software. Or maybe you just like a challenge. In any event, we've got a solution for you - Windows XP Weekend Crash Course. Open the book Friday evening and on ...

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Get up to speed on Windows XP - in a weekend!

The big day is Monday. The day you get to show off what you know about Windows XP. The problem is, you're not really up to speed. Maybe it's been a while since you used the Windows operating system. Perhaps you're interested in the enhancements that have been made to the software. Or maybe you just like a challenge. In any event, we've got a solution for you - Windows XP Weekend Crash Course. Open the book Friday evening and on Sunday afternoon, after completing 30 fast, focused sessions, you'll be able to dive right in and use the dozens of tips that are useful on an everyday basis. It's as simple as that.

The Curriculum


Evening: 4 Sessions, 2 Hours
* Introducing Windows XP
* Windows XP Installation
* Windows XP Operating System
* Letting Windows Help You


Morning: 6 Sessions, 3 Hours
* Using the Control Panel
* Accessory Basics
* Advanced Accessories
* Basic Desktop Customization
* Advanced Desktop Customization
* File and Folder Basics

Afternoon: 6 Sessions, 3 Hours
* Advanced File and Folder Operations
* The My Documents Folder
* Printing
* Networking
* Internet Explorer Basics
* Advanced Internet Tasks

Saturday, cont.

Evening: 4 Sessions, 2 Hours
* Managing Your Computer
* Disaster Recovery
* Using Outlook Express
* Instant Messaging


Morning: 6 Sessions, 3 Hours
* Mastering Media
* Adding and Configuring Hardware
* Sharing Resources
* Updating Windows XP
* Controlling the Windows Task Manager
* Auditing Computer Efficiency

Afternoon: 4 Sessions, 2 Hours
* Managing Users and User Rights
* Protecting Your Computer from Viruses
* Basic Troubleshooting
* Where to Go from Here

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764542237
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 9/19/2003
  • Series: Weekend Crash Course Series , #10
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 9.25 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

John R. Nicholson is a professor of Computer Information Systems at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. He has been using Microsoft Windows since Version 1 was introduced, and has been an authorized beta tester of every version of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office since 1994. He is a Microsoft Certified Professional in both Windows NT and Windows 2000. John is author of more than a dozen computer-related books, translated into over 20 languages. Recent books include Inside Dreamweaver UltraDev 4 (2001), which he co-authored with his son Sean, and Teach Yourself Outlook 98 in 24 Hours (1998), which he co-authored with his daughter Rebecca. He has four children and seven grandchildren. When he isn't chained to his computer, John watches nearly every movie ever made, loves theater, and collects old radio shows from the 1920s through the 1960s. He can be reached at
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Table of Contents




Part I-Friday Evening.

Session 1-Introducing Windows XP.

Session 2-Installing Windows XP.

Session 3-Windows XP Operating System and Time-Saving Tips.

Session 4-Letting Windows Help You.


Part II-Saturday Morning.

Session 5-Using the XP Control Panel.

Session 6-Windows XP Accessories: The Basics.

Session 7-Windows XP Accessories: Advanced.

Session 8-Basic Desktop Customization.

Session 9-Advanced Desktop Customization.

Session 10-File and Folder Basics.

Part III-Saturday Afternoon.

Session 11-Advanced File and Folder Operations.

Session 12-The My Documents Folder and Folder Views.

Session 13-Printing with Windows XP.

Session 14-Networking with Windows XP.

Session 15-Internet Explorer Basics.

Session 16-Advanced Internet Tasks.

Part IV-Saturday Evening.

Session 17-Managing Your Computer.

Session 18-Disaster Recovery.

Session 19-Using Outlook Express.

Session 20-Instant Messaging.


Part V-Sunday Morning.

Session 21-Mastering Media.

Session 22-Adding and Configuring Hardware.

Session 23-Sharing Resources.

Session 24-Updating Windows XP.

Session 25-Controlling the Windows Task Manager.

Session 26-Preserving and Auditing Computing Performance.

Part VI-Sunday Afternoon.

Session 27-Managing Users and User Rights.

Session 28-Protecting Your Computer from Viruses.

Session 29-Basic Troubleshooting.

Session 30-Where to Go from Here.

Appendix A-Answers to Part Reviews.

Appendix B-What's on the Companion Web Site?


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First Chapter

Windows XP Weekend Crash Course

By John Nicholson

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7645-4223-0

Chapter One


Introducing Windows XP

Session Checklist

  •   Introducing new and redesigned Windows features
  •   Understanding the differences between Windows XP Professional and Home Versions
  •   Buying Windows XP at a discount

30 Min. To Go

Microsoft Windows XP is the newest addition to the Windows home and small business line of operating systems. (It's also a very popular operating system in large businesses, as I discuss in Session 14.) It is very stable, and the computer seldom has to be completely restarted. In this session you'll find out what an operating system is, what it does, and why you need one. You'll take a brief look at some of the new features in Windows XP, along with some redesigned features from previous versions of Windows.

What Is an Operating System?

The operating system is the most important program that runs on a computer. Every general-purpose computer must have an operating system to run other programs. Operating systems perform basic tasks such as recognizing input from the keyboard, sending output to the display screen, keeping track of files and directories on the hard drive, and controlling peripheral devices such as disk drives and printers. In order for a computer to accept input in the form of keyboard commands or mouse commands, an operating system must beloaded and functional.

Cross Ref

Session 3 covers the Windows XP operating system in more detail. For an introduction to computer hardware, see the companion Web site for this book at

Microsoft Windows

Microsoft Windows is the most popular operating system in use today. Microsoft has offered many versions over the years, some more popular than others. Although Versions 1 and 2 did exist (introduced in 1985 and 1987, respectively), they were only used by people who wanted a graphical user interface (GUI). They were not stable and were unacceptable for most home or business use. The following list points out some of the major strengths and weaknesses of various versions of Windows.

Versions 3.0, 3.1, and 3.11: Version 3.0 (1990) of Windows was the first widely popular GUI-based operating system. Although Windows 3.0 was quite unstable, having to be restarted several times a day, most users were willing to sacrifice stability for ease of use. Users just saved their work every few minutes in case the system crashed.

One of the main drawbacks of Version 3.0 was that it could not run on a local area network (LAN). The introduction of Version 3.11 remedied this problem. In its various incarnations, Version 3.x was popular for several years.

Windows 95 (1995): The introduction of Windows 95 launched one of the world's largest marketing campaigns. Windows 95 went on sale at midnight, and computer stores all over the United States had pajama parties with thousands of dollars worth of gifts given away at each store. Windows 95 was a major upgrade in terms of ease of use, stability, and software availability at the time of introduction. Since the introduction of Windows 95, each new version of Windows has been an incremental upgrade rather than the giant leap from Version 3 to Windows 95.

While earlier versions of Windows allowed you to switch between programs, multi-tasking was not available. Multitasking is the ability of an operating system to work on more than one application at the time. For example, you could use your computer to play a game, download a file over the Internet, and listen to music all at the same time. The introduction of multitasking drove a need for updated hardware, increased random access memory (RAM), and even larger displays (so that you could see more applications on the screen at one time).

Windows 98 (1998) and ME (2000): Following Windows 95, Microsoft released Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition (SE) (1999), and Windows ME. Each of these releases included increased stability and many bells and whistles. Although few users upgraded their existing machines to these versions, new computers came with the upgraded versions already installed.

Home versions of these Windows operating systems were designed primarily to run games and other multimedia applications. The systems designed for business use were less capable of working with multimedia applications and played few of the popular games. They were designed to run powerful word processors, spreadsheets, databases, and programs that were designed specifically for a company.

Windows NT 3.1 (1993) and Windows NT Workstation 4.0 (1996): Most large businesses have standardized on Windows NT for several years. Version 3.51 was extremely popular and the introduction of Version 4.0 resulted in a business standard that has lasted for many years. In all likelihood, the popularity of Windows NT for business use will continue for many additional years. Standardization on Windows 4.0 was a combination of three things: increased stability, all the perceived features that businesses wanted, and certification by Microsoft [Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE)] helped ensure that Network Administrators were properly trained.

Windows 2000 (2000): Windows 2000 can be thought of as Windows NT version 5. It took nearly 3 years after the release of Windows 2000 to standardize on that operating system. The release of Windows 2000 was delayed for several months while Microsoft attempted to develop a version that could be used equally well at home and at the office. Eventually, Microsoft changed direction and released Windows 2000 to the business sector and Windows ME to home users. Windows 2000 was an incredible upgrade to the business community. In fact, it was so large that it took businesses several years to fully adapt to it. Moving to 2000 was a large investment in hardware, software, and training. While 2000 looked basically the same on the surface, it was immensely more powerful, and thus more complex. Since most business didn't want to spend the money for a complete upgrade, many decided to remain with NT.

All About Windows XP (Well, Almost)

Microsoft has tried for years to develop a Windows-based operating system that could be used equally well at home, in a small business, or in a large business. The constraining factor has been that home users wanted games and multimedia. Prior to the introduction of Windows XP, this simply was not practical. Games and multimedia applications wanted to take direct control of the central processing unit (CPU), Random Access Memory (RAM), sound card, and video card, among other pieces of hardware, rather than allowing the CPU to assign rotating use of hardware facilities. For example, one application may set aside a specific area of RAM for use and, while multitasking, another application tries to overwrite data in memory, because it uses the same area of RAM. These collisions caused computer crashes.

In Windows NT and Windows 2000, Microsoft set up a gatekeeper that does not allow any application direct access to the hardware. This results in a much more stable system, a priority of nearly all businesses. The release of Windows 2000 was well overdue (Microsoft had announced release dates as early as 1999), mostly because of Microsoft's attempts to release an operating system that would work with games and multimedia and remain as stable as the operating systems used in businesses. Finally, in about mid-2000, Microsoft released the Windows 2000 operating system for businesses and the ME version of Windows for home use. Windows 2000 was moderately successful, but Windows ME was a fiasco, one of the least stable systems since Windows 3.0.

Windows XP (2001) is what Microsoft has been wanting for many years: An operating system that is stable enough for businesses, and yet capable of handling games and multimedia applications. Windows XP is only a client-operating system. There is no version of XP capable of actually running a network. (Microsoft Windows 2003 Server, released in the third quarter of 2003, is the successor to Windows 2000 Server.) One of the ways that Microsoft was able to accomplish this feat was to convince game and multimedia developers that XP was the operating system of the future, and would be shipped on all new home and non-server business computers. If the game and multimedia developers didn't develop for XP, they would be missing a huge market share in the near future. Today, most new software is specifically designed to run on the XP operating system.

New and improved Windows XP features

Windows XP offers many improvements over previous versions of Windows. Take a look at just a few of these.

Visual design

The default Windows XP color scheme is brighter and bolder than in previous versions of Windows. The desktop is less cluttered, the buttons and windows display a 3-D realism, and the icons are sharper. Icons used to be available only in 32 x 32 pixels (a pixel is the distance between like-colored dots on a monitor), but are now available in three different sizes, including the jumbo 48?48 pixel size. You can change the icons to the larger size by following these steps:

1. Right-click any open area of the desktop. In the context menu, click Properties to show the Display Properties dialog box (shown in Figure 1-1).

2. Click the Appearance tab.

3. Click the Effects button.

4. Click Use large icons to place a checkmark in the box.


The small square to the left of each option is called a check box. Check boxes are examples of toggles. A toggle is a feature with two states, on and off. In the case of check boxes, the option is toggled on or off by clicking the check box. A checkmark means the option is on, no checkmark means the option is off.

5. Click OK twice.


To revert to regular-sized icons, repeat the above steps, making sure there is no checkmark in the Use large icons check box.

When you first install Windows XP from scratch, you will notice the desktop is uncluttered. In fact, this is one of the negatives for users of previous versions of Windows. The icons they expect to see aren't there. A few clicks of the mouse will display those icons for users who are lost without them.

1. Right-click any open area of the desktop, and click Properties on the pop-up menu to show the Display Properties dialog box (shown in Figure 1-2).

2. Click the Desktop tab.

3. Click the Customize Desktop button.

4. In the Desktop icons pane of the General tab, make sure that any icons you want displayed have a checkmark next to them.

5. Click OK twice.

User switching

In previous versions of Windows, if you wanted to change users you had to log off and then load the settings for the new user. In Windows XP, multiple user settings can be held in memory at the same time. To switch between users, simply click Start[right arrow]Log Off. Figure 1-3 shows the revamped Start menu. Notice the left column shows your commonly used and most recently used programs, while the right column displays the options commonly seen in earlier versions of Windows.

Internet Connection Firewall

Today, there are three basic ways that home users connect to the Internet. The first is through a device called a modem. A modem allows you to connect to the Internet using your regular telephone line. You are only connected to the Internet when you actually dial your Internet Service Provider (ISP). This is a relatively slow way of connecting to the Internet, but much less costly than the other two options.

The other two options are connecting to the Internet through your cable television service (cable), or connecting through specialized telephone wire run between the nearest telephone switching site and your house [digital subscriber line (DSL)]. Both ways are expensive compared to using a standard modem, but the speeds can be 20 or more times faster using cable or DSL.


In reality, cable and DSL connections also require modems. However, when we talk about connecting to the Internet through a modem we are normally talking about using a standard telephone line for the connection.

In the case of a cable or DSL connection, your computer is constantly connected to the Internet. This exposes your computer to the possibility of being hacked. Hacking is when an unauthorized person attempts to gain control of your computer for purposes of stealing data or causing malicious damage. One step that can be taken to deter hackers is placing a hardware or software firewall between your computer and the Internet. All messages entering or leaving the computer pass through the firewall, which examines each message and blocks those that do not meet the specified security criteria. Although a hardware firewall is always considered to be more effective than a software firewall, it is considerably more expensive. To save Windows XP users from having to invest additional money for basic security, Microsoft has included a software Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) that can be used without additional charge.

Internet Connection Sharing

Although Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) has been available in every edition of Windows since the Windows 98 Second Edition, the version included in Windows XP streamlines the setup process and adds the capability for remote users to start and stop a dial-up connection on the host PC. The purpose of ICS is to allow multiple computers to connect to the Internet through a single Internet connection at the host computer.


Since the ICF is not very effective and in reality the ICS tends to be difficult to actually get to work, many users bypass both features and invest about $100 to purchase a router. The router not only gives the advantage of better, programmable security but makes hooking multiple computers to the Internet a matter of plugging in a few connections.

Windows Media Player

Although Windows Media Player has been available in many versions of Windows, it has been greatly enhanced in version 8, included with Windows XP.


Excerpted from Windows XP Weekend Crash Course by John Nicholson Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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