• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL
Help

Preface > Considerations and Scope

Considerations and Scope

Our focus is on user applications, however, not on system or network administration. While we give you a basic understanding of these deeper levels and what's available, specific installation details and detailed configuration information for system and network administrators are largely beyond the scope of the book. There are also settings that depend on decisions made by your network administrator or Internet Service Provider (ISP), especially with networks systems. Whenever possible, we give you the information you need, but there are times when all we can tell you is where to go for additional information.

We have tried to speak universal truths about Windows XP, but sometimes we are forced to make assumptions about your settings or installed options. Microsoft gives so many configuration options that the truth is, for better or worse, that each user's machine represents a slightly different installation of Windows XP. Of all the code and data Microsoft ships on the Windows XP CD-ROM, only about half is used in any particular user's configuration. What we say about Windows XP may or may not be quite true about Windows XP as it's installed on your system.

For example, there's a setting in Control Panel Folder Options that instructs Windows to open icons with either a double-click or a single-click, according to your preference. While most users tend to prefer the double-click option, and double-clicking is the default on most systems, your system might be different (it might even be the default, depending on the operating system you had installed previously). Although both setups are clearly defined in Chapter 2, some procedures elsewhere in this book will instruct you to double-click where you may only need to single-click. This "knowledge gap" is an unfortunate consequence of the malleable nature of the Windows operating system.

Consider another oddity in Windows XP: categories in Control Panel. This new addition in Windows XP (discussed further in Chapter 2) splits the components of the Control Panel into distinct categories, rather than simply listing them alphabetically, as in previous versions of Windows. What's more, the Control Panel can be accessed in any of three different ways, (as a menu in the Start menu, as a standalone folder window, or as an entry in the folder tree in Windows Explorer) and the category interface (which can be disabled completely, if desired) is used only in some cases. This means that it's difficult (and laborious) to predict when you'll need to open the "Appearance and Themes" category before you can get to the Display Properties dialog. We've compensated for this ambivalence by enclosing the category name in "maybe" brackets, like this: Control Panel [Appearance and Themes] Display Properties.

Also, for all the statements (from Microsoft and others) that Windows XP is "integrated" and "seamless," the fact is that the system is actually amazingly modular, customizable, and "seamy." This is a good thing. This book shows a lot of different ways to modify Windows XP to suit your needs, a theme that is expanded further in the Annoyances books (O'Reilly & Associates), also by David A. Karp. This almost infinite customizability and modularity of Windows XP means that many of our statements about the product — such as saying that the My Computer window has an icon for Control Panel, or that the Desktop corresponds to the \Documents and Settings\Administrator\Desktop folder, or that Windows XP is faster than Windows Me — may, strictly speaking, be false, or at least serious oversimplifications.

Basically, Windows XP is a platform and set of capabilities, not a single stable product with a fixed set of features. In this book, we give you the information you need to tap into all of Windows XP's capabilities, not just those that are showcased on Microsoft's web site or the Windows Desktop.

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint