You've read the reviews and digested the key feature enhancements and
operational changes. Now it's time to delve a bit deeper and uncover
some of Windows XP's secrets.
1. It boasts how long it can stay
up. Whereas previous versions of Windows were coy about how long they
went between boots, XP is positively proud of its stamina. Go to the
Command Prompt in the Accessories menu from the All Programs start
button option, and then type 'systeminfo'. The computer will produce a
lot of useful info, including the uptime. If you want to keep these,
type 'systeminfo > info.txt'. This creates a file called info.txt
you can look at later with Notepad. (Professional Edition only).
You can delete files immediately, without having them move to the
Recycle Bin first. Go to the Start menu, select Run... and type
'gpedit.msc'; then select User Configuration, Administrative Templates,
Windows Components, Windows Explorer and find the Do not move deleted
files to the Recycle Bin setting. Set it. Poking around in gpedit will
reveal a great many interface and system options, but take care -- some
may stop your computer behaving as you wish. (Professional Edition
3. You can lock your XP workstation with two clicks of
the mouse. Create a new shortcut on your desktop using a right mouse
click, and enter 'rundll32.exe user32.dll,LockWorkStation' in the
location field. Give the shortcut a name you like. That's it -- just
double click on it and your computer will be locked. And if that's not
easy enough, Windows key + L will do the same.
4. XP hides some
system software you might want to remove, such as Windows Messenger,
but you can tickle it and make it disgorge everything. Using Notepad or
Edit, edit the text file /windows/inf/sysoc.inf, search for the word
'hide' and remove it. You can then go to the Add or Remove Programs in
the Control Panel, select Add/Remove Windows Components and there will
be your prey, exposed and vulnerable.
5. For those skilled in
the art of DOS batch files, XP has a number of interesting new
commands. These include 'eventcreate' and 'eventtriggers' for creating
and watching system events, 'typeperf' for monitoring performance of
various subsystems, and 'schtasks' for handling scheduled tasks. As
usual, typing the command name followed by /? will give a list of
options -- they're all far too baroque to go into here.
has IP version 6 support -- the next generation of IP. Unfortunately
this is more than your ISP has, so you can only experiment with this on
your LAN. Type 'ipv6 install' into Run... (it's OK, it won't ruin your
existing network setup) and then 'ipv6 /?' at the command line to find
out more. If you don't know what IPv6 is, don't worry and don't bother.
You can at last get rid of tasks on the computer from the command line
by using 'taskkill /pid' and the task number, or just 'tskill' and the
process number. Find that out by typing 'tasklist', which will also
tell you a lot about what's going on in your system.
8. XP will
treat Zip files like folders, which is nice if you've got a fast
machine. On slower machines, you can make XP leave zip files well alone
by typing 'regsvr32 /u zipfldr.dll' at the command line. If you change
your mind later, you can put things back as they were by typing
9. XP has ClearType -- Microsoft's
anti-aliasing font display technology -- but doesn't have it enabled by
default. It's well worth trying, especially if you were there for DOS
and all those years of staring at a screen have given you the eyes of
an astigmatic bat. To enable ClearType, right click on the desktop,
select Properties, Appearance, Effects, select ClearType from the
second drop-down menu and enable the selection. Expect best results on
laptop displays. If you want to use ClearType on the Welcome login
screen as well, set the registry entry HKEY_USERS/.DEFAULT/Control
Panel/Desktop/FontSmoothingType to 2.
10. You can use Remote
Assistance to help a friend who's using network address translation
(NAT) on a home network, but not automatically. Get your pal to email
you a Remote Assistance invitation and edit the file. Under the
RCTICKET attribute will be a NAT IP address, like 192.168.1.10. Replace
this with your chum's real IP address -- they can find this out by
going to www.whatismyip.com
-- and get them to make sure that they've got port 3389 open on their firewall and forwarded to the errant computer.
You can run a program as a different user without logging out and back
in again. Right click the icon, select Run As... and enter the user
name and password you want to use. This only applies for that run. The
trick is particularly useful if you need to have administrative
permissions to install a program, which many require. Note that you can
have some fun by running programs multiple times on the same system as
different users, but this can have unforeseen effects.
Windows XP can be very insistent about you checking for auto updates,
registering a Passport, using Windows Messenger and so on. After a
while, the nagging goes away, but if you feel you might slip the bonds
of sanity before that point, run Regedit, go to
Version/Explorer/Advanced and create a DWORD value called
EnableBalloonTips with a value of 0.
13. You can start up
without needing to enter a user name or password. Select Run... from
the start menu and type 'control userpasswords2', which will open the
user accounts application. On the Users tab, clear the box for Users
Must Enter A User Name And Password To Use This Computer, and click on
OK. An Automatically Log On dialog box will appear; enter the user name
and password for the account you want to use.
Explorer 6 will automatically delete temporary files, but only if you
tell it to. Start the browser, select Tools / Internet Options... and
Advanced, go down to the Security area and check the box to Empty
Temporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed.
comes with a free Network Activity Light, just in case you can't see
the LEDs twinkle on your network card. Right click on My Network Places
on the desktop, then select Properties. Right click on the description
for your LAN or dial-up connection, select Properties, then check the
Show icon in notification area when connected box. You'll now see a
tiny network icon on the right of your task bar that glimmers nicely
during network traffic.
16. The Start Menu can be leisurely when
it decides to appear, but you can speed things along by changing the
registry entry HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Control Panel/Desktop/MenuShowDelay
from the default 400 to something a little snappier. Like 0.
You can rename loads of files at once in Windows Explorer. Highlight a
set of files in a window, then right click on one and rename it. All
the other files will be renamed to that name, with individual numbers
in brackets to distinguish them. Also, in a folder you can arrange
icons in alphabetised groups by View, Arrange Icon By... Show In Groups.
Windows Media Player will display the cover art for albums as it plays
the tracks -- if it found the picture on the Internet when you copied
the tracks from the CD. If it didn't, or if you have lots of pre-WMP
music files, you can put your own copy of the cover art in the same
directory as the tracks. Just call it folder.jpg and Windows Media
Player will pick it up and display it.
19. Windows key + Break
brings up the System Properties dialogue box; Windows key + D brings up
the desktop; Windows key + Tab moves through the taskbar buttons.
The next release of Windows XP, codenamed Longhorn, is due out late
next year or early 2003 and won't be much to write home about. The next
big release is codenamed Blackcomb and will be out in 2003/2004.
This may not be true for an expert .