Monday, July 10, 2006

Extra Windows eXPerience

Towards More Windows Experience …

Finally, one can say that the all new WindowsXP is hard to crash if not impossible. Barring some software and hardware compatibility glitches, it is all set to sit over the World’s most computers. Here are some self help tips that will help you march towards more Windows Experience. So, login as administrative user (some system setting may not be available under limited user) and start tweaking following settings…

· Is Old Gold?

The look and feel of WindowsXP has been radically changed, may be for better. But you want to stick to your old Windows98 interface. No problem. WindowsXP takes care of its old, loyal user’s likings. Simply right click start button, then click properties in the menu that appears. Here appears a dialogue box called ‘Taskbar and Start Menu properties’. Click on Start Menu tab, and select Classic Start Menu. Your Windows98 interface will be back. You can further customize the Windows classic interface by clicking ‘Customize’ tab. Here, you can finally dump all unwanted desktop icon which were till now were difficult to delete.

· Practicing safe?

WindowsXP gives you option to use your computer safely. It is recommended that other than doing system administrative work like installing hardware/software or changing system settings etc., use your WindowsXP machine as non privileged, limited account user. If your computer is infected with a virus or trapped in hands of an unknown hacker, and if you are using your machine as limited account user, the damage to your computer may be minimal since you are only allowed to manipulate your file only and not any one else’s including system files, So, create yourself a limited user account immediately. For this, go to control panel [by clicking start button] click User Accounts and click on ‘Create a new account’ link. Type the name of account you want to use in the window that appears then click next. The next window asks you to pick an account Type. Here, select limited and click ‘Create Account’ tab. After creating account, you may need to assign password for further security. This can be done in similar steps as listed above. Further, if you do not want your machine to be disturbed by other persons in your absence, than you must disable guest account, which is normally set to enable by default. Windows XP supports fast user switching and you can log on as another user while still running your favorite music in Winamp as other user.

· Link or no link?

You can customize your WindowsXP start menu [not the old Classic menu] by some advance options that WindowsXP provides. You can see your start menu items as link also. By default, the control panel in WindowsXP is shown as link which can be changed as menu for better and easier approach. Similarly, you can see your ‘My document’ folder as menu. But beware if you have large numbers of files to display, than it may fill up your entire desktop thus finding files become a bit difficult. However, if you have organized you files in folders and subfolders, then menu based approach is far better than link based. Simply point your mouse to that particular folder and it will show its content, which can be opened by simply clicking there. To set this property, right click Start Menu, and then click Properties. Select Start Menu and click customize tab. Click advanced tab and select items that you want to display as Menu or Link. Finally, click OK and Apply to apply the selected setting. Work a while for options best suited to you as you can easily revert back to your default settings.

· Performance or Appearance?

You can set your WindowsXP machine either to deliver performance wise or if you are beauty conscious, then for appearance wise. In between, you can also customize individual settings for look, feel and performance. If you set your machine to deliver optimum performance, than fancy colour, Windows animations etc., will be absent from your machine. On the other hand, if you set your machine for optimum appearance, than all fancy window background, animations will be there for your pleasure but with some performance lag. To set this option, go to control panel, click System, and than click Advanced tab. In Performance section, click Advanced button. In ‘Performance Options’ window that appears, click on Visual Effects tab and select the desired option – ‘Adjust for best appearance’ or ‘Adjust for best performance’ which ever you want and click apply to take effect the changes. Further, click again on advanced tab here, and you can set your computer’s setting to deliver for background services or for Programs. Here, you can also customize your computer’s virtual memory for optimal performance.

· Task or no task?

WindowsXP gives you option to perform most common task well within your current location by context sensitive menu. For example, if you are exploring graphics files, than common task bar may contain graphics related menu and so on. To enable or disable this option, start Windows Explorer, click on tools menu, and then click on folder options. In the window that appears, click on general tab. Under Tasks section, select ‘Show common tasks in folder’ and click Apply button. Finally, click on View tab and click on ‘Apply to all folders’ button and click OK to take effects the changes you made.

· Shutdown or Hibernate?

In WindowsXP, you can logoff and login as another user while still running your applications. You can Hibernate your computer to its true state while your programs are still running. And when you boot at later time, you get your computer at the exact point where you had left, and fast. If your computer had no other OS installed, and if you have no other user (after hibernating, logging as different user may give you strange results), than it is recommended that you do not shutdown your computer. Instead, always Hibernate your computer. It is really fast, and does not take much time in booting and starting your programs. When it comes out of Hibernation, you will be amazed that your favorite music file is still playing in WinAmp.

· Secure or not?

WindowsXP has built in firewall protection. Though it is not as feature rich as third party firewalls like Zonealarm, it still can protect you from lot of malicious persons and programs across Internet. To set firewall protection, go to Control Panel, click on Network Connection link or menu as the case may be, and then click the available connection you want to firewall. Alternately, open the dialog box by which you make connection to internet. There, you will find a tab called Properties. Click here and further click advanced tab. Select internet connection firewall and then click on settings button. Finally, set your options like event log etc. in services and security logging tabs and click OK button to take effect the changes. Now your computer is fire walled against potential intruders.

Got enough eXPeriene? No way! In fact, there is numerous other tweaking that you can apply to your WindowsXP machine, but let us reserve some of them to discuss at other time. Meanwhile, if you are in any doubt, click either on ‘Start’ button or ‘Help’ menu of Windows Explorer and then click ‘Help and support’ menu and search for your topic there. There are detailed, vast supports for every field and it is very likely that you will find your answers there; and if you still find these as difficult then you can sought remote assistance too that is fully supported in WindowsXP.

Snapshot Descriptions:

  1. winxp1.bmp You can easily revert back to your familiar Windows9x style interface.
  2. winxp2.bmp Menu options can be added or removed as per user’s convenience.
  3. winxp3.bmp You can hide or show the icons that were present in your task bar.
  4. winxp4.bmp Turn off the guest account for added security of your computer.
  5. winxp5.bmp Add a limited user account for common task like Internet surfing, chatting and receiving e-mail etc. This way, you are protecting your computer from major damage due to virus and intruders etc.
  6. winxp6.bmp You can change user account’s attributes anytime.
  7. winxp7.bmp For easiness and added clarity, you can display folders like Control Panel and My Documents as Menu.
  8. winxp8.bmp Control Panel is displaying as menu.
  9. winxp9.bmp My document is displaying as menu. Note that its entire content is visible as menu, and you can directly open your documents from here.
  10. winxp10.bmp You can set your WindowsXP machine to deliver for best performance or best appearance. There are individual settings too.
  11. winxp11.bmp Customized, adequate virtual memory makes your system’s performance better.
  12. winxp12.bmp Context sensitive common task are displaying in XP’s Windows Explorer.
  13. winxp13.bmp Hibernating is real fast and easy.
  14. winxp14.bmp WindowsXP has built in firewall that can be effectively used against intruders.
  15. winxp15.bmp Some advanced firewall setting available in WindowsXP.
  16. winxp16.bmp If you stuck anywhere, simply invoke WindowsXP’s Help and Support centre that even support remote assistance.

(The article has already been published earlier in IT magazine)

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