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Introduction

Introduction

For many years Microsoft has maintained two sets of operating systems that both used the Windows name. From Windows 95 and 98 to Windows Me, an inexpensive operating system that could be used for both home and business applications was produced. For the server and workstation market, Microsoft produced Windows NT and Windows 2000. But maintaining two different operating system kernels for these two markets caused problems for users, due to the fact that some applications worked under one operating system, but not the other since the Windows 95/98/ME line of operating systems used a different kernel than the Windows NT and Windows 2000 operating systems. The kernel is the heart of the operating system and is the most important component.

Windows XP is the result of a merging of the features that you enjoyed with the Windows 9.x operating system and with the Windows NT/2000 kernel. In addition, Windows XP has many more features that you'll learn about in this book that make it the most logical choice for anyone who buys a computer today. With the stability of the Windows NT/2000 kernel, you'll find that your system is less likely to crash and that many applications will run much faster. Since developers will now only have to write applications to run under a single operating system, you can expect to have a larger number of applications to choose from. Because Windows XP contains a lot of new features, especially in the multimedia area, you should find a lot of fun applications come out that exploit these capabilities.

This book is divided into five sections. In Part I, you'll learn about some of the technical details of the operating system, such as how virtual memory is handled by the kernel and how multitasking operates. There's a lot going on behind the scenes that lets you run multiple programs at the same time and allows multiple users to access your computer. You'll also learn in Part I about some important factors that you should consider before you attempt to install or upgrade to Windows XP. Indeed, if you haven't upgraded yet, this book can be a valuable reference for deciding whether or not to make that decision. Part I walks you through the installation process one step at a time, explaining the choices you can make when you do finally decide to upgrade or install Windows XP on your computer. The last chapter in this section discusses some of the options available for installing Windows XP on a large number of computers. This chapter should prove useful for administrators in a business environment where they need to install or upgrade their client computers in an orderly fashion.

In Part II you'll learn about what is happening when Windows XP starts up, and a lot about configuring and using the new Desktop that Windows XP presents. Microsoft seems to have done a major overhaul on the Desktop, so this section will definitely be required reading if you want to be come an expert on this operating system. This section contains information about accessibility options for people who have a physical impairment that makes using a computer difficult. Part II also introduces you to the latest version of Internet Explorer, as well as the newest developments in how to work with files and folders. Finally, you'll find an entire chapter devoted to using Outlook Express to manage your email, news group subscriptions, address book, and much more.

Part III covers administration and technical issues that the administrator of the computer will need to use. Here you'll find chapters on everything from running older applications to the new Control Panel and tools for managing users on the computer. The Registry, often ignored by casual users, is covered in a chapter by itself, as is the all-important topic of disaster recovery and what you can do to prevent as well as fix problems. If performance is a problem, you'll find a chapter on that. If backups are something you need to understand, there's a chapter on that, too. This section closes with three chapters devoted to networking issues for both the local area network and the Internet. Windows XP now contains a personal firewall that can help protect your computer. You can learn how to join a domain or create a workgroup for a smaller network.

Part IV contains chapters that will be of interest to most users since computers are being used more and more today for their multimedia capabilities. If you want to know how to hook up a camera to your computer or use the new Windows Media Player to download music from the Internet and record it to a CD, then this section is for you. Or if you want to learn how to take your old VHS tapes and record them to digital files and make your own movie, then you'll learn to use Windows XP's Movie Maker. Windows XP has so many new multimedia features that it's hard to describe them in a few sentences. There are three chapters in this section that will enable you to make the most of any multimedia capabilities of your computer.

Part V contains several appendices that serve as reference material for this book. If you need to brush up on your TCP/IP skills, then Appendix A can be used for a quick refresher course. Appendix B describes the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and the Active Directory. If you are using Windows XP in a business environment, then this appendix is a valuable resource for understanding how LDAP and the Active Directory are used to store a vast amount of information about your network. For the traveler, Appendix C has some advice about using Windows XP on laptop computers, and include features new with Windows XP, such as ClearType technology, that might make reading your laptop's screen easier. Finally, Appendix D contains a ton of information about using Internet Information Server. IIS is a complex application that gives you the ability to create a Web presence that can be used on your local network or the Internet.

Windows XP is truly a revolutionary operating system, and I think that you'll enjoy using it on your computer. This book will show you how to do things that weren't available in previous versions of Windows. The organization makes it easy to quickly locate the topic you need to learn about and pictures of important windows are shown so that you don't to need to try to visualize them in your head as you read. I think you'll find this book to be the best reference book available on using and managing Windows XP Computers.

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