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Thank you for purchasing or considering the purchase of Platinum Edition Using Microsoft Windows XP.

When we published our first Windows book about 15 years ago, our publisher didn't even think the book would sell well enough to print more than 5,000 copies. I remember asking a stock broker to purchase some Microsoft stock for me back in 1995, and he asked me who Microsoft was, and what they did. Who could have imagined that a decade and a half later, anyone who hoped to get hired for even a basic IT job would have to be highly conversant in networking Windows-based PCs or that an MCSE (Microsoft Certified System Engineer) certificate could prove as lucrative as a medical or law degree, or that a typical Windows OS would be assembled from over 30 million lines of programming code as XP is. As you might know, Windows 1.0 was nothing more than a dinky application interface tacked on top of DOS. Windows XP is a brobdignagian beast with support for many complex technologies: CD-ROM, CD-R and CD-RW, DVD, TCP/IP, MP3, MPEG, DV, USB, IEEE 1394, APM, ACPI, RAID, UPS, PPOE, 802.11b, fault tolerance, disk encryption and compression…the list goes on.

Whether Microsoft's corner on the PC OS market was won unethically through monopolistic practices we'll leave up to you to decide. The evolution of Windows to what we have in XP today represents a lot of work, by anyone's accounting. And even though Gates and company are rarely on the bleeding edge of technology, a lot can be said from the end user's perspective for the standardization that Microsoft has imposed on the industry. In 1981, when we were building our first computers, the operating system (CP/M) had to be modified in assembly language and recompiled, and hardware parts had to be soldered together to make almost any new addition (such as a video display terminal) work. Average folks simply didn't have the techno-chops to build a computer, much less do something with it. The creation and adoption (and sometimes forcing) of hardware and software standards that have made the PC a household appliance the world over can largely be credited to Microsoft, like it or not. The unifying software glue of the PC revolution has been Windows, which is one reason it's been exciting to chart its evolution and document it all these last 15 years.

Why This Book?

As you certainly know, these fat computer books make good door stops (or antidotes to occasional insomnia) in a couple of years. (We should know, since we've written more than a few of them and have stacks of extra copies them in our personal libraries.) Still, there's nothing like a good reference book when you need it. Although we've written two lengthy books on Windows XP (Windows XP Home Bestseller Edition and Windows XP Professional Bestseller Edition), we had a bunch of advanced material that didn't make it into those books for a couple of reasons. First, the target readership of those books wasn't advanced users or IT professionals, and second, we felt compelled to cover some of the more elementary XP topics in those titles, which necessarily consumed some of the limited number of book pages allotted to us. The book you're holding is thus the mental repository of many months of research and experimentation which had no home until Que suggested we write a higher-level title on Windows XP, containing more complex XP issues for a more advanced readership. Portions also grew out of our experiences writing Que's Special Edition Using Windows 2000 Professional.

As an experienced Windows user, you know that ever since Windows 95, Windows has come with negligible written documentation. Of course, online Help files abound, but they are written by Microsoft's contractors and staff. You won't find criticisms, complaints, workarounds, or talk of third-party programs there, let alone explanations of why you have to do things a certain way. For that, you need a book not written or published by Microsoft. Although we produced two separate titles for our Special Edition and Bestseller Edition XP books from Que (one for Home Edition and one for Professional), this book covers both. Since this is more of a reference manual than a tutorial text, we've covered both versions in this one volume, and simply noted the differences in features between the two versions where appropriate.

In this book's many pages, we focus not just on the gee-whiz side of the technology, but why you should care, what you can get from it, and what you can forget about. The lead author on this book has previously written 15 books about Windows, all in plain English (several bestsellers), designed for everyone from rank beginners to full-on system administrators deploying NT Server domains. The co-author has designed software and networks for more than 20 years. We work with and write about various versions of Windows year in and year out. We have a clear understanding of what confuses users and system administrators about installing, configuring, or using Windows, as well as (we hope) how to best convey the solutions to our readers.

While writing this book (and our other books, actually), we tried to stay vigilant of four cardinal rules:

  • Keep it practical.

  • Keep it accurate.

  • Keep it concise.

  • Keep it interesting, and even crack a joke or two.

We believe that you will find this to be the best book available on Windows XP Professional and Home Edition for the advanced user. While writing it, we targeted an audience ranging from the power user at home or the office to the support guru in a major corporation. Whether you use a Windows XP PC or support others who do, we firmly believe this book will address your questions and needs.

We're also willing to tell you what we don't cover. No book can do it all. This book is about Windows XP. We don't cover setting up the Server operating systems called Windows 2000 Server or Windows Server 2003. However, we do tell you how to connect to and interact with these servers using Windows XP. And, due to space limitations, there is only passing coverage in Appendix A of Windows XP's command-line utilities, batch file language, and Windows Script Host. For more, check out Brian's book Windows XP Under the Hood: Hardcore Scripting and Command Line Power.

Even when you've become a Windows XP pro, we think you'll find this book to be a valuable source of reference information in the future. Both the table of contents and the very complete index will provide easy means for locating information when you need it quickly.

How Our Book Is Organized

Although this book advances logically from beginning to end, it's written so that you can use the index or table of contents to jump in at any location, quickly get the information you need, and get out. You don't have to read it from start to finish, nor do you need to work through complex tutorials.

This book is broken down into seven major parts. Here's the skinny on each one:

Part I, “Installation,” introduces Windows XP and explains its features, architecture, and new graphical user interface (GUI) elements. It then explains how to ready your hardware and software for installation of XP and describes the installation process itself under several different scenarios: basic XP installations, workstations that must be able to boot several different operating systems, and large-scale deployment in the enterprise.

Part II, “System Configuration and Setup,” covers the additional setup and management steps needed to turn a “vanilla” XP installation into a fully functioning system. The chapters in this section tell how to manage user accounts, set up Internet connections (including shared and broadband Internet connections), add printers and fax modems, install applications, and configure system services. Additionally, a chapter is devoted to the tweaks and adjustments you can—and in some cases, should—make to the Windows user interface; that is, the desktop, taskbar, and Start menu. You'll also want to refer back to this chapter later when you need to modify or change these basic system settings.

Part III, “Windows XP Applications,” covers the built-in applications and services provided with Windows XP. Readers of this book don't need tutorials, but want a comprehensive guide to the applications' features, options, and settings, as well as a repertoire of handy tips and tricks. So, with that in mind, this section shows you the deeper and darker sides of Windows Explorer, multimedia and imaging applications, and Internet applications such as Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. The last chapter in this section tells how to set up the Web, FTP, SMTP, and telnet servers provided with Windows XP.

Part IV, “Networking,” deals with networking on the LAN. Here, we explain the fundamentals of Windows networking and, in case you don't have a corporate networking department to do this for you, we walk you through planning and installing a functional LAN for your home or office. We cover the use of a Windows XP network; give you a chapter on dial-up and remote access networking; show how to internetwork with Unix and other operating systems; and finish up with a chapter on the troubleshooting tools provided with XP.

Part V, “Security,” covers a crucial aspect of Windows setup and management: keeping your system safe from unauthorized access. Since intruders can come in over the Internet or your local area network, or they can walk into your office, you'll want to read this part to find out how to lock down your system against all three types of attack. One chapter covers local security measures built into the operating system, one chapter covers user-specific security on the NTFS file system, and a final chapter covers network and Internet security measures.

Part VI, “Management, Maintenance, and Repair,” dives even deeper into system administration and configuration. One entire chapter is devoted to disk management, while others cover hardware and device driver installation, the Windows Registry database, and the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) and its plug-ins. This section also shows you how you can use scripting, batch files, and the Task Scheduler to automate management tasks, and has a chapter devoted to special considerations and tools available managing XP in an enterprise setting. Finally, there are chapters devoted to troubleshooting and to XP's system recovery features that can help you in the event of a hardware or software disaster.

Finally, the Appendixes provide reference information that you may find helpful as you navigate through Windows's darker recesses. Appendix A covers the Windows XP command-line interface, including the command shell and batch file commands and the MS-DOS emulation subsystem. Appendix B lists all of the executable programs provided with Windows XP, including system services and drivers, not only to help you find helpful tools you may never have known about, but also to help identify the various applications and tasks that Windows runs on your behalf. Appendix C lists troubleshooting resources for Windows XP. The appendixes are included as PDFs on the CD with this book.

What's on the CD?

We've made a 45-minute CD-ROM-based video presentation covering several Windows management and networking skills:

  1. Windows Explorer (7 minutes)

    • Copying and moving files easily between distant folders

    • Finding and removing old chkdsk files

  2. Taskbar and Multitasking (8 minutes)

    • Customizing toolbars on the taskbar

    • Tricks for switching between running applications

    • Adding toolbars, folders, and shortcuts to the Quick Launch bar

  3. Viewing Photos (4 minutes)

    • Getting photos into your computer

    • The camera and scanner wizard

    • Creating slideshows

    • Changing the orientation of photos

  4. Editing Photos (14 minutes)

    • Using Microsoft's photo editing tools (requires Microsoft Office)

    • Applying stylistic filters

    • Modifying contrast, brightness, gamma

  5. Printing Photos (5 minutes)

    • Using the photo printing wizard to print your photos

    • How to use expensive photo paper efficiently

  6. Setting Up a Shared Internet Connection (13 minutes)

    • Sharing one Internet connection between several computers on a LAN

    • Using a connection sharing router instead of Internet Connection Sharing (ICS)

    • Choosing which computer will act as host

    • Sharing a dial-up connection

    • Sharing a DSL or cable connection

    • Using the Network Setup Wizard

    • How to include computers running earlier versions of Windows

    • Ensuring security when sharing Internet connections

  7. Doing Your Own Network Wiring (10 minutes)

    • Choosing the right kind of CAT-5 cable

    • Stripping the cable

    • Arranging the wires in the correct order

    • Using a crimping tool

  8. Setting Up a Wireless Network (11 minutes)

    • Wireless overview

    • 802.11b versus other standards

    • Choosing wireless gear

    • Infrastructure versus ad hoc setups

    • Installing the access points

    • Installing wireless cards in laptops and desktops

You'll want to be sure to check this out, and meet the authors. Also, included on the CD as PDFs are Chapter 33 and the Appendixes.

Conventions Used in This Book

Special conventions are used throughout this book to help you get the most from the book.

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.
MonospaceInformation that appears in code or onscreen, or information you type.
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. Yeah, we know it's confusing, but this is traditionally how Que does it, and traditions die hard. So, for example, the instruction “Choose Edit, Cut” means that you should open the Edit menu and choose Cut. Another, more complex example would be “Click Start, Settings, Control Panel, System, Hardware, Device Manager.”

Key combinations are represented with a plus sign. For example, if the text calls for you to press Ctrl+Alt+Delete, you would press the Ctrl, Alt, and Delete keys at the same time.

Special Elements

Throughout this book, you'll find Tips, Notes, Cautions, Sidebars, and Cross-References. These items stand out from the rest of the text so you know that they're of special interest.



These tips give you down-and-dirty advice on getting things done the quickest, safest, or most reliable way. Tips give you the expert's advantage.



Notes are a visual “heads-up!” Sometimes they just give you background information on a topic, but more often they're there to point out special circumstances and potential pitfalls in some of Windows's features.



Pay attention to cautions! They could save you precious hours in lost work.


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 follows:

→ For more information on resizing disks, seeResizing Basic Disks,” p. 1010.



Sidebars are designed to provide information that is ancillary to the topic being discussed. Read this information if you want to learn more details about an application or task.

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