Software Review: Windows XP Revisited
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As seen in the March 2002 issue of IT magazine

By J.A. Hitchcock

As mentioned in a previous review, I installed Windows XP on my new IBM Thinkpad without a hitch and was putting off upgrading to XP on my desktop.

Well, I finally did it.

Both my husband and I had Windows Me on our desktops and we were getting very sick of seeing the BSODs (Blue Screen of Death, for you newbies). We got Windows XP Home for his desktop and Windows XP Professional for mine. Both of our desktops are fairly identical:

My husband uses his desktop mainly for computer simulation games, ie combat subs, combat fighter planes (WWII is his favorite), Quake, Flashpoint, etc; surfing the net; and graphic design using CorelDraw. Although he’d heard a few months ago when I installed Windows XP on my Thinkpad that most of the games were incompatible with XP, by now he’d found that more of the games/software either had XP patches or were designed to work with XP. I decided his desktop would be the first guinea pig.

After going through the compatibility process (which can be done via the Windows XP CD-ROM or on their web site), I found that there were a lot of updates that needed to done, as far as drivers and such, but everything should work well with XP. Upgrading was fairly painless, although it did take almost 45 minutes in total.

Once the upgrade was done and the computer restarted, my husband began playing with the new look of Windows XP - he loved the more “rounded” look of the buttons and graphics and decided to keep the new XP look, although he could have opted for going back to the classic Windows look if he’d wanted.

Ever since getting cable Internet, downloading is faster than ever, so we found the updates and drivers needed for everything he had, except for the ALPS printer. He uses that for his work (museum-quality model shipbuilding) to print decals and ALPS is no longer in business, nor is any company putting out updated drivers. We despaired for a while, then I suggested downloading and trying the Windows 2000 driver for the ALPS printer, since Windows XP is based off of NT/2000. The driver worked like a charm - so here’s a hint: If you can’t find a driver that is XP compatible, try a 2000 driver - it just may work!

The Home Edition of XP is very straightforward and provides easy-to-understand instructions on using the new features of XP, as well as how to navigate the new menu setup, etc. Pretty soon, my husband was busy with Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 2002 Professional, flying a Cessna. He hasn’t had his desktop crash since he installed Windows XP and he is more than happy with it.

Now it was my desktop’s turn. Windows XP Professional is made more for multiple users who either share a LAN or have more than one user on the same computer. It took me a while to figure out how to stop it from asking me to input my password every time I started up the computer (Here’s how: Go to Start, Control Panel, Tweak UI. Click on the Logon tab, check the box next to “Logon automatically at system startup,” then enter your username/password and click the OK button), but once I figured that out, it started up faster than Windows Me ever had.

Most of the programs/hardware I had needed updates/drivers and I began downloading them with a frenzy. I did find three items that would not work with XP: HP’s CD-RW utilities, Easy CD Creator 3.0 and the Photosmart Printer.

I uninstalled the HP utilities program for my CD-RW and installed a new program called RecordNow, which allows me to record/copy data and music discs better than before. I uninstalled Easy CD Creator completely because Roxio (the software manufacturer) wanted me to pay $30 to upgrade to the latest version which did work with XP, which I felt was a gyp. The Photosmart Printer, alas, has to go. There are no Windows 2000 or XP drivers for it and the NT driver wouldn’t work. Mine is the first generation of the Photosmart Printers, and although it’s in great working order, I can no longer use it. I now use the Canon S800 for my photo printing.

Everything seemed to fine for a few days, when I had three different problems:

  1. I tried to do Windows Update to make sure I had the latest updates for XP. I was told by a pop-up box that I did not have authorization, only the System Administrator did. I was stumped. I thought I was the SysAdmin for my desktop, as well as the user J.A. Hitchcock. So I went to the Windows XP web site, trudged through the FAQs and troubleshooting there and found nothing related to this. I finally went to the microsoft.public.windowsxp.security_admin newsgroup and posted the following:

    	I upgraded to Windows XP Professional (which I love. . .so far).
    	However, when I tried to click on the link in the Start/Programs/etc
    	menu on Windows Update, it claims this was disabled by the System
    	Administrator and won't let me do it.
    	Since I *am* the Sys Admin (aren't I?), I'm totally confused on how to
    	remedy this.
    	Can someone either give me instructions via reply on the group or
    	e-mail please?

    I got no replies via e-mail or on the newsgroup. I was a bit frustrated. I then tried to e-mail the so-called experts on the newsgroup - one didn’t reply to me at all the other’s e-mail bounced as being undeliverable (and an e-mail address to boot). I then put up my plea again on the newsgroup and this time the expert with the undeliverable e-mail address posted a reply:

    	>Open REGEDIT (start/run) to: 
    	>Edit menu, Permissions. Give Administrator and System 
    	>'Full Control' and 'Read' permissions 
    	>and find the key named "NoWindowsUpdate" and delete that key 

    I politely replied with a thank you and followed his instructions. I get Windows Updates now.

  2. Not every day, but sometimes when I start up the desktop, Windows XP shows an error in trying to load the driver for Easy CD Creator, which I thought I’d uninstalled. I followed the link this reminder gave me and all it did was tell me that Easy CD Creator 3.0 was incompatible and I needed to upgrade. It would be nice if Windows XP would let me know where and what the name of the driver is so that I can delete it. Until I can figure that out, I keep getting the warning.
  3. I’d installed Office XP Professional when I had Windows Me. However, after I upgraded to Windows XP, Office XP popped up a warning that I’d have to update drivers/software. No problem. I did. When I started Office XP again, I was told I’d have to reactivate my registration because of the upgrade to Windows XP (you following this so far? I told the Microsoft guys they should have called it MS Office 2002 or something else). When I tried to do that, it told me that this version of Office XP was already registered to another computer. Well, duh. My computer. I was given instructions to call a toll-free number. I did.

    The lady who got me was very nice and told me they were getting a lot of frustrated people like me who tried to reactivate Office XP when they upgraded to Windows XP and got the same warning. She then verified I was who was registered to the software, then gave me a complicated string of numbers, divided into seven sets of six numerals. Once I input those and hit the Next key, Office XP worked again. I got on the phone with Microsoft’s PR people about this and told them it was a pain in the behind to waste almost a half hour on the phone getting the software I owned reactivated while other software companies just had updates available to download. I told them I felt like I was being interrogated (Bright light in my face: “What’s your name? Where were you on the 22nd?”). He agreed and said he’d pass the info on to the tech guys at Microsoft.


    Besides these three problems, I have no complaints about Windows XP Home or Professional Editions. No more BSODs. No more crashes. Everything seems to run faster and I do like the new look. One caveat: You can only install Windows XP on one computer - no more sharing it with your mom, dad, brother or like me, with my husband. I think this was a bad move on Microsoft’s part. As long as people aren’t installing it on more than two or three computers, they should be allowed to, especially at the price of the software.

    My only beef (and a small one) is that Tweak UI doesn’t have the Add/Remove Programs tab as in previous versions, so that you can get rid of titles of programs no longer on your computer, but that keep showing up as being there. Guess which one I’m having trouble with? Easy CD Creator. Curses!

    J.A. Hitchcock,, is the author of seven books and a freelance writer, as well as president of W.H.O.A. (Working to Halt Online Abuse)

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