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Preface

Preface

Windows XP is the latest product in a long line of operating systems from Microsoft. Although it’s superficially similar to earlier versions of Windows, there’s quite a bit new under the hood, and on the surface as well. A consumer-friendly, almost cartoonish interface sits on top of the most complex Windows version yet.

A graphical user interface, like the one in Windows XP, is not a substitute for good, thorough documentation. Naturally, colorful icons and animated interface elements make the interface more inviting and help uninitiated users stumble through the basics of opening programs and printing documents. There are only so many hours in the day, though, and spending most of them trying to figure out the new networking system, sorting through the thousands of settings in the Registry, discovering all of the hidden tools, or even learning to be productive with the new Windows Movie Maker, is really not good use of your time.

By taking the undocumented or otherwise hidden features and settings in Windows XP and placing them in context with more conspicuous and familiar components, this book provides the complete picture necessary to truly understand the operating system and what is involved in completing just about any task.

There are many books on Windows XP, but most of them get bogged down with elementary tutorials and the scrawniest tasks most of us could perform in our sleep. That’s where this book comes in. Windows XP in a Nutshell provides a condensed but thorough reference to Windows XP, with an organization that helps you get right to the task at hand.

For example, there are literally hundreds of settings and features in Windows XP, scattered throughout dozens of dialog boxes. Some are plainly accessible through the Start menu or in the Control Panel, while others are hidden under layers of application menus. A few aren’t apparent at all without knowledge of hidden features. In Chapter 5, all these settings are listed in the same place, sorted alphabetically from A to Z. So, instead of wading through menus and flipping through dialogs looking for a way to stop Windows from disconnecting your dial-up connection to the Internet (or for the setting that affects sounds in web pages), just look in Chapter 5, under “Dialing” and “Sounds,” respectively.

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