XP: From the Ground Up
Your Win2K Pro-savvy will give you a head-start on implementing Windows XP. Let's start with the installation.
How times flies! This column was started less than two years ago to focus
on the forthcoming Windows 2000 operating system, which has now gone through
a complete product cycle. With the release of Windows XP and the soon-to-be
released Windows .NET Server products, this column will shift to address
these new platforms while retaining the central mission of focusing on
introductory and intermediate technology issues of interest to MCSEs.
Where should we start with this new focus? At the beginning, of course!
Let's look at what you'll need to do to get XP up and running.
XP setup is broken up into two phases: character-based and graphical-user-interface-based.
This is consistent with other Windows setup routines, so not much is new
here. Following is a walk-through of both phases of the installation.
For this walkthrough, I'm assuming you have a bootable CD drive—a
common feature. If not, you'll need to create the setup floppy disks per
the instructions in the README.DOC file on Windows XP Professional disk.
Here's the step-by-step:
- Place the Windows XP Professional disk in the drive and boot the
- If required, touch any key during the machine's power on stage (POST)
to boot from the CD.
- The character-based setup phase looks surprisingly like Win2K Professional.
You're offered the opportunity to press F6 to specify unsupported SCSI
and RAID drivers, but this wasn't needed with my installation.
- At the Setup Notification screen, press Enter to continue.
- At the "Welcome to Setup" screen, hit Enter to continue.
- Read the Windows XP Licensing Agreement and press F8 to agree.
- On the Win2K Professional Setup screen, you'll create your installation
partition. You do this by selecting "Unpartitioned space" and pressing
- Next, select "Format the partition using the NTFS file system" and
press Enter. The hard disk will be formatted using the NTFS file system,
and the numerous setup files will be copied (*.drv, and so on). You
have time here to sprint out and get a quick shot of espresso (it's
true!). The computer will perform one reboot, and the very attractive
XP logo will appear.
- The "An exciting new look" page will notify you that Windows is installing
and will be done in approximately 39 minutes (your time will vary).
The setup process goes on autopilot here for a spell.
- Numerous other information screens will pass before you eyes like
- Complete the Regional and Language Options screen and click Next.
- Complete the Personalize Your Software screen (Name and Organization
fields) and click Next.
- On the Your Product Key screen, type in the 25-character Product
Key found on the CD gem case sticker. Click Next.
- On the Computer Name and Administrator Password screen, complete
the Computer Name field (preferably a short name like Computer1) and
the Administrator Password and Confirm Password fields (use a complex
password, with alpha, numeric and special mixed-case characters).
- On the Date and Time Settings screen, adjust as necessary and click
Next. At this time, the networking components will be installed in a
- On the Networking Settings screen, select Typical Settings (the default
selection) and click Next.
- On the Workgroup and Domains screen, select No and click Next. For
this example, I'll assume you aren't joining a domain. Next month, I'll
show you Windows XP peer-to-peer networking based on the workgroup model.
At this point, the setup process will autopilot for a while again. If
you look closely, you'll see the Start menu items, among other things,
- When the Display Settings dialog box appears, click OK.
- After the display test occurs, the Monitor Settings dialog box will
appear, asking you if the settings are correct. Click OK.
- When the Welcome to Microsoft Windows screen appears, click Next.
- When you get to "How will the computer connect to the Internet,"
click either Digital subscriber line (DSL) or cable modem or Local area
network (LAN). Click Next. Based on my current connection, I selected
the LAN option.
- On the "Setting up a high-speed connection" screen, configure your
IP address information for dynamically obtained or statistically assigned.
I selected the Obtain IP Automatically and Obtain DNS Automatically
checkboxes. Click Next.
- On the Ready to Activate Windows screen, you'll likely want to select
"Yes, activate Windows over the Internet now." You would then proceed
to complete the registration screens. In this case, for simplicity,
select "No, remind me every few days." Click Next. (Note that you will
have 14 days to activate Windows once you've installed it. )
- On the "Who will use this computer" screen, in the "Your name" field,
type your name and click Next.
- On the "Thank you!" screen, click Finish. The setup routine will
apply some last-minute configurations and a lower-case "welcome" notice
will entertain you.
- You're then presented with the Windows XP desktop.
Take a bow! You've successfully installed Windows XP.
First Looks: Eye Candy
You might be subliminally aware that Windows XP is based on the now stable
and mature Win2K code base. So when you look at the desktop in Figure
1, you might actually be "underwhelmed" with the new look and feel.
|Figure 1. Modest to say the least, the baseline
Windows XP desktop is somewhat blank, relying on the Start menu to
access the user interface objects. (Click image to view larger version.)
Clicking on the Start menu leads you into more familiar territory. You'll
see a number of program items on the left, such as recent programs opened
and the obligatory inducement to subscribe to MSN as your Internet Service
Provider (ISP). On the right side of the Start menu, you have My Documents,
Control Panel, Search and so on (Figure 2, below). Easily overlooked is
the All Programs group that displays numerous other program items and
groups (e.g., Accessories).
|Figure 2. Meet and greet the revised Start menu
in Windows XP. (Click image to view larger version.)
In preparing this column, I spoke with an MCSE based in Cocoa, Florida,
to get her reaction to Windows XP (in part to validate or discredit my
own observations). She felt the experience in upgrading to Windows XP
from Win2K was similar to her experience years ago when she migrated from
Windows 3.1 to Windows 95. Yes, she could appreciate that Windows XP contains
new features she's not completely exploiting at this early date, but the
user interface was taking a lot of time to master. I concur and basically
feel I'm aging as an MCSE, forlorn in my fondness for the familiar user
interfaces of old.
Windows XP isn't just replicated code base and new eye candy. There
are actually some new features you should note (Future columns will focus
on specific features, so this is just an overview).
- Driver management—Long-awaited improvements in driver
management include the ability to rollback a driver installation. That
is, the old dynamic link library (DLL) and associated files are retained
so that a rollback scenario can be easily implemented. Better yet, Microsoft
has pledged to maintain its Web site as a single source for all drivers
needed for any device used with Windows XP.
- Firewall—A personal firewall component is provided as
part of the networking setup routine. This is accessed from Control
Panel | Network and Internet Connections | Network Setup Wizard (this
is the topic of my column next month so hang on, please!).
- Remote Desktop—Imagine something with the small footprint
of NetMeeting and the robustness of Terminal Services and you've got
the remote desktop management capabilities in Windows XP. This alone
may well justify an organization's cost to upgrade to Windows XP because
of the Help Desk savings in providing real-time user support.
- Multimedia Support—In the past, multimedia was a take-it-or-leave-it
feature with MCSEs, to be honest. But with the world changing and people
re-evaluating their need to travel, we're seeing a boom in video conferencing.
Windows XP, while not a Macintosh in the multimedia realm, improves
on the multimedia support seen in Windows Me and brings the stability
of Win2K Professional. Not bad, eh?
Congratulations on completing the installation of Windows XP Professional.
Please take some time to explore the new user interface and build your
baseline knowledge of the operating system. That will be especially useful
next month when you are charged with the task of networking Windows XP
in a peer-to-peer scenario.
Bainbridge Island, Washington author Harry Brelsford is the CEO of NetHealthMon.com, a Small Business Server consulting and networking monitoring firm. He publishes the "Small Business Best Practices" newsletter (firstname.lastname@example.org), and is the author of several IT books, including MCSE Consulting Bible (Hungry Minds) and Small Business Server 2000 Best Practices (Hara Publishing).