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In this introduction

How to Use This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

I confess: I have a love-hate relationship with Windows.

It has been growing for more than a decade. I've worked and played with Windows through countless upgrades during that time, including Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, and at least three major releases of Internet Explorer. I've tinkered with INI files, tweaked the UI, hacked the Registry, dissected Dial-up Networking, watched Internet Explorer evolve into an amazing window on the entire world…and spent way too many hours staring at the screen trying to figure out why Windows wasn't working right.

With every upgrade, Windows adds a slew of cool new features and a seemingly equal number of new and annoying bugs. Windows Millennium Edition is no exception.

Windows Me arrives at the beginning of the new millennium, and marks the end of the line for its branch of the Windows family tree, which began long ago with MS-DOS. It includes sweeping changes in the core Windows code, some subtle and not-so-subtle changes to the Windows interface, and a full set of multimedia tools. Plus all the bugs and quirks you've come to expect from Windows.

It's packed with features only a power user could love, but it's designed for people who've never used a computer before. It's still capable of crashing at any time, for no apparent reason. But the new version includes sophisticated new tools that can tidy up some of the mess and even roll you back to an earlier configuration that worked properly.

In this book, I'll show you how to get to the cool stuff, avoid the features that don't work right, troubleshoot problems, and generally fine-tune Windows so it works the way you want it to and doesn't get in your way. Don't expect handholding or step-by-step walkthroughs for basic techniques that haven't changed since Windows 95. In this book, I've focused on what's new in Windows Me, with a special emphasis on features that are different from their Windows 95/98 counterparts.

How to Use This Book

This book was designed and written expressly for experienced Windows users who understand the importance of keeping up with advances in technology. Special Edition Using Windows Millennium Edition contains detailed information about every aspect of Windows Me, including setup, customization, troubleshooting, and networking. You'll find complete coverage of Internet Explorer here as well, from Web search secrets to advanced security topics. Special Edition Using Windows Millennium Edition also includes step-by-step instructions on how to find and install online updates.

Special Edition Using Windows Millennium Edition is a comprehensive reference that makes it easy for you to accomplish any task quickly and effectively. To help organize this enormous breadth of coverage, I've divided the book into seven parts (plus a selection of appendixes), beginning with the essentials and grouping related subjects together for fast, easy reference.

Part I: Windows Essentials

This part covers the absolute essentials of Windows Millennium Edition and Internet Explorer 5.5, with a special emphasis on troubleshooting techniques. If you're a Windows veteran, don't miss Chapter 1, "The Evolution of Windows," which explains how the Windows and Internet Explorer interfaces developed; it also lists a handful of serious bugs and design flaws that survived into this upgrade. Chapter 3, "Advanced File Management with Windows Explorer," tells you how to customize the Windows Explorer so it works for you instead of fighting your every move. Windows Me includes a new HTML-based Help and Support Center; you'll find details about the changes in Chapter 4, "Getting Help." If you've picked up this book to help solve a pesky problem, flip straight to Chapter 5, "Maintaining Your System and Troubleshooting Problems," where I've included exhaustive, step-by-step instructions to help you diagnose and repair even the thorniest compatibility problems

Part II: Customizing Windows

The impressive flexibility of Windows is simultaneously its greatest strength and a source of never-ending frustration. This section exhaustively details how you can modify Windows Me to suit your personal preferences. Reset the many system-level options that help define how Windows works, from power management to date and time formats. Customize the Windows desktop, Start menu, and taskbar. Change colors, fonts, and background images to make Windows more visually appealing. Add, remove, and manage TrueType fonts. And install or uninstall Windows programs quickly and safely.

Part III: Windows and Hardware

Five years ago, gigabyte-class hard drives were an expensive novelty. Today, even modestly priced PCs routinely include tens of gigabytes of hard disk storage. In Chapter 11, "Working with Disks and Drives," I explain how to set up and configure any hard drive so it will work with Windows properly. Jump to Chapter 12, "Configuring Hardware and Device Drivers," to learn how to add new hardware, reconfigure existing peripherals, set multimedia options, and troubleshoot your system. And if you've set up Windows Me on a portable PC, be sure to read Chapter 13, "Using Windows on a Notebook Computer."

Part IV: Windows at Play

As the name implies, Windows Me is a personal operating system, with support for a huge assortment of games, high-fidelity music, and digital cameras. This section covers everything you need to know to get the most out of Windows Media Player, Microsoft Movie Maker, and hot, game-oriented technologies such as DirectX.

Part V: Home Networking

How many PCs do you have in your home right now? Two? Three? More? Networking used to be the exclusive domain of corporate techies. Today, home networks are cheap and (relatively) easy, especially if you follow the advice in this section. If you've never worked with a network before, be sure to start by reading Chapter 17, "Windows Networking 101," which explains the technical underpinnings of a Windows-based network. The rest of this section covers how to set up your network, share files and folders, and make sure that every computer can take advantage of a single Internet connection.

Part VI: Exploring the Internet

How complicated can a browser be? You'd be surprised. This part skips over the basics of browsing and goes straight to the stuff that matters: It covers every aspect of Internet connectivity, from setting up a dial-up connection to configuring TCP/IP options to downloading files from FTP servers and setting security options.

Part VII: Email and Other Internet Tools

There's more to the Internet than just the Web. Outlook Express, for example, is so packed with features that it could easily deserve its own book. I've packed a wealth of information about this sweeping communications program into two chapters—Chapter 26, "Using Outlook Express for Email," covers using Outlook Express as an email client, whereas Chapter 27, "Using Outlook Express to Read Newsgroups," details its strengths and weaknesses with newsgroups. And don't overlook the Windows Address Book, a surprisingly robust Windows program that works with Outlook Express and other programs to manage email addresses and much more; you'll find some surprising secrets about this utility in Chapter 28, "Managing the Windows Address Book."


Microsoft has removed Windows Me's capability to boot to an MS-DOS prompt, but the old command-line interface lives on if you know where to look. Power users will appreciate the documentation included in Appendix A, "Using MS-DOS with Windows." If you need to back up your data, you'll find details about changes to the MS Backup program in Appendix B, "Effective Backup Strategies." And anyone trying to dual-boot between Windows Me and another operating system should be certain to read Appendix C, "Dual-Booting and Advanced Setup Options."

Conventions Used in This Book

Special conventions are used to help you get the most from this book and from Windows Me.

Text Conventions

Various typefaces in this book identify terms and other special objects. These special typefaces include the following:

ItalicNew terms or phrases when initially defined.
Monospaced typeInformation that you type.
Initial capsMenus, dialog box names, dialog box elements, and commands are capitalized.
Key combinationsKey combinations are represented with a plus sign. For example, if the text calls for you to enter Ctrl+Alt+Delete, you would press the Ctrl, Alt, and Delete keys at the same time.
Words separated by commasAll Windows book publishers struggle with how to represent command sequences when menus and dialog boxes are involved. In this book, we separate commands using a comma. So, for example, the instruction "Choose Edit, Cut" means open the Edit menu and choose Cut. Another, more complex example would be "Click Start, Settings, Control Panel, System, Hardware tab, Device Manager."

Secrets of the Windows Masters

Whether you're the acknowledged Windows hero at the office or you're a home power user, you'll find the ideas I provide at the end of each chapter to be an indispensable part of your problem-solving, productivity-enhancing bag of tricks. Check out these chapter-ending sections for tips on combining Windows features, tweaking the interface, or utilizing a third-party application to get the job done.

Special Elements

Throughout this book, you'll find Notes, Cautions, Sidebars, Cross References, and Troubleshooting Tips. These elements are designed to provide spot-on advice, warnings, and ancillary tidbits that will make you a hit at the next company mixer.

Ed's "Signature" Tips


If you read only the Tips in this book, you'll still walk away with a bevy of Windows knowledge that will amaze your friends and pets. I've spent more than a decade collecting these crucial time- and sanity-saving tips, so take the time to read them!



Notes point out ancillary information that is important to read, but not essential for your survival. If you're in a hurry, you can skip over the Notes. If you're trying to get the big picture and learn the ins and outs of Windows, however, be sure to read these valuable additions.



Windows has more pitfalls, traps, and dead ends than even the twistiest mountain road. When you see one of these Cautions, slow down and read it—twice. The information I provide here could keep you from plunging headlong into disaster.

Troubleshooting Tips

Troubleshooting Tip

I've designed these troubleshooting tips to point out common problems and Windows snafus. Pay attention to these. Chances are I can route you around common problems while your friends and co-workers continue to struggle.

Cross References

Cross references are designed to point you to other locations in this book (or other books in the Que family) that will provide supplemental or supporting information. Cross references appear as shown here:

→ For a detailed discussion of file systems, drive letters, and other disk details, see Working with Disk Partitions

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