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Installing Programs

If you’ve upgraded to XP, you’ll find some improvements in the installation process. Windows 9x users will find that Microsoft has improved the Add or Remove Programs dialog box. More important, XP won’t let poorly designed programs harm your system by installing outdated drivers and system files. Windows 2000 users will find improved compatibility; many programs (especially games) that acted cranky or refused to run in Windows 2000 will run in XP properly. Most installations go smoothly, but be aware of a few things:

Be an Administrator. XP is a multiuser OS that supports Administrator, Limited, and Guest user accounts (see “Setting up User Accounts” in Chapter 16). Only Administrators can install programs without restriction (Figure 6.1).

Figure 6.1. To install software, you need certain permissions. XP-certified programs give these clear instructions, but older Windows 9x programs may display a vague or puzzling message when you try to install them. XP allows a Limited user or Guest to log on as an Administrator to install a program.

Set a restore point first. Create a System Restore point before you install new software that you don’t quite trust. If the new program causes problems, you can undo the installation and return your system to its previous working condition. See “Restoring Your System” in Chapter 19.

Make sure the program is XP-compatible. XP is compatible with fewer programs than Windows 9x but more programs than Windows 2000. Look for an XP compatibility statement or the “Designed for Windows XP” logo on the software’s package or web site (and look for patches or updates while you’re there). You also can check Microsoft’s web site for XP-compatible programs: Choose Start > Help and Support > Find Compatible Hardware and Software for Windows XP; then search for your program.

Close open programs first. Exit all open programs before you install so that support files won’t be open—and therefore locked—when Setup tries to replace them. If you have a virus scanner, turn it off; otherwise, it may interpret your new program as being harmful.


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