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Windows XP ("Whistler") FAQ

Windows XP is the most important release of Windows since Windows 95. Here's the first--and most comprehensive--Windows XP FAQ anywhere, extensively updated with all-new information about the final, shipping version of Windows XP.

UPDATE: This FAQ is now retired.

Q: What is Windows XP?
A: Technically, Windows XP is the next version of Windows 2000, but it is positioned as an upgrade for Windows 98, 98 SE, Millennium Edition (Me), 2000, and NT 4.0 users. It is based on the Windows Engine, an update to the Windows NT/2000 kernel.

Q. What does XP stand for?
A. "eXPerience". Microsoft likes to say that previous versions of Windows bundled applications, but that Windows XP bundles experiences. In other words, it enables end-to-end experiences with things such as digital photography, digital music, home networking, the Internet, and more.

Q: So what the heck is "Whistler"?
A: During its development, Windows XP was called "Whistler". Or, as noted succinctly by Craig Beilinson, the lead product manager for Windows, in early 2000, "Whistler is the code name for the next iteration of Windows."

Q: What editions does Windows XP include?
A: Windows XP ships in three edition, including Home Edition for consumers, Professional Edition for business and power users, and a 64-bit version for Intel Itanium processor-based systems, called Windows XP 64-bit Edition. Read more about the 64-bit version in my showcase on the 64-bit editions of Windows XP and Windows .NET Server.

Q: What's the difference between Windows XP Home Edition and Professional Edition?
A: Windows XP Home is designed as an upgrade for Windows 9x/Me and therefore ships with the same type of consumer features found in Windows Me. The biggest difference is processor support: Windows XP Home will support only one processor, while Professional supports two. I have a full and detailed list available regarding the differences between the two editions available, however: Use this showcase to determine which version is for you.

Q: How much will Windows XP cost?
A: Windows XP Home Edition retails for $199.99, while the Home Upgrade version is $99.99. Windows XP Professional is $299.99, while the Pro Upgrade is $199.99. Windows XP 64-bit Edition is only made available with new Itanium workstations, and is not available separately.

Q: Will I be able to upgrade Windows Me to Windows XP? What about Windows 95 and Windows 98?
A: Windows XP is an upgrade for almost every 32-bit version of Windows; you will be able to upgrade Windows 98, 98 SE, and Me to Windows XP Home Edition or Professional. You will also be able to upgrade Windows 2000 Professional and Windows NT 4.0 Workstation to Windows XP Professional as well, but not to Home Edition.

In case it isn't obvious, then, Windows 95 and Windows NT 3.51, or earlier, are not supported for upgrading, so you will need to buy a full version of Windows XP if you wish to upgrade your system.

Also note that Windows 98, 98 SE, and Me users will be able to uninstall Windows XP if the upgrade doesn't work out for some reason. This capability will not be made available to Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 upgraders.

For more information about what upgrades what, please refer to my showcase, What to Expect from Windows XP.

Q: This sounds cool. I want to know more about Windows XP! 
A: No problem: Read my exhaustive review of Windows XP Home Edition and Professional and the many Technology Showcases I've written! No one has written more about Windows XP.

Q: I've heard that Windows XP includes a new user interface. Is this true? 
A: Yes. Though you will be able to use the same "classic" Explorer user interface found in Windows 95-Windows 2000, Windows XP also includes support for Visual Styles, an XML-based "skinning" technology that will allow users to tailor the way their system looks in ways that were never before possible. Sadly, Windows XP only ships with only one Visual Style (called "Windows XP", go figure; it was code-named "Luna"), though that style will support various color schemes as well. During the early beta of Windows XP, Microsoft shipped a style called "Professional" (later called "Watercolor") but this skin didn't test well with corporations, which was the intended audience. The "Windows XP" visual style can be adopted by applications that run under this OS as well; in Windows XP, both IE 6 and Windows Media Player 8 use the new look and feel.

Q: I want more Visual Styles now! What can I do?
A: I recommend the excellent WindowBlinds XP, which can be downloaded, in beta form, from the Stardock Web site. This excellent tool allows you to totally customize the Windows XP user interface.

Q: Is Windows XP the same thing as the "Whistler" speech recognition software that Microsoft Research is working on?
A: No.
Microsoft has been working on a speech to text translator project dubbed Whistler, along with a speech recognition engine called "Whisper," for some time now. But don't be confused about this seemingly unrelated set of projects: They have nothing to do with each other per se. However, Windows XP does include speech technology; but that's not why this release is code-named Whistler.

Q: So why was Windows XP code-named Whistler? I thought Microsoft was using space names for their betas.
They were ("Odyssey," "Neptune," "Mars") for a while, and before that they were using city names ("Chicago," "Detroit," "Memphis"). But now they've turned to mountain names: Whistler and Blackcomb are popular ski resorts a few hours from Seattle, located in British Columbia, and Longhorn, the next interim release, is a tavern at the base of Whistler mountain. However, the space names continue with other projects: The new Whistler user interface found in Windows XP was code-named "Luna."

Q: Is Windows XP 64-bit, 32-bit, or a 16/32-bit system like Windows 98?

A: Windows XP is based on the NT/2000 kernel and is therefore a full 32-bit system
with no legacy deadwood. However, Windows XP is also available in a 64-bit version called Windows XP 64-bit Edition (find out more!).

Q: When will Windows XP be released?
A: Microsoft is planning to release all editions of Windows XP simultaneously on October 25, 2001. The products were finalized, or released to manufacturing (RTM), on August 24, 2001.

Q: I read somewhere that Windows XP will feature a new feature to finally cure "DLL hell". Is this true?
A: Yes. Back in the early days of Windows, before hard drives were even widely available, Microsoft introduced the concept of a shared code library called a "DLL" (Dynamic Link Library). The theory was that each program that needed certain snippets of code could get that code from a single location and thus save hard drive space. Over time, however, this became one of Windows' biggest weaknesses: Applications would "upgrade" these shared libraries with their own copies, causing other applications or even Windows itself to fail. In Windows XP, applications will think they're copying their files as usual, but the OS will manage the process so that they don't actually overwrite any existing files. Then, each time the application is run, Windows XP will ensure that it only uses its copies of the files, ensuring that all apps run correctly and none of them are able to get in the way of other applications. Microsoft says that this feature will "isolate applications from each other, providing users with a 'run once, run forever' environment. Sounds good to me. So good, in fact, that I wrote up a Technology Showcase about this feature, which Microsoft internally calls Fusion.

Q. Is there going to be a Plus! pack for Windows XP?
A. Yes. Plus! for Windows XP includes enhancements in four key areas: digital media, games, screensavers, and themes. For digital media, Plus!XP includes the Plus! speaker enhancement, which provides better sound clarity and richness through desktop speakers; Plus! Personal DJ for easier custom playlist generation; Plus! Voice Command for Windows Media Player (WMP); Plus! CD Label Maker; various new WMP skins; new 3-D visualizations; and the Plus! MP3 Audio Converter for converting MP3 audio files to Windows Media Audio (WMA) format, which will save hard-disk space.

New games include Russian Squares Plus! Edition, The Labyrinth Plus! Edition, and Hyperbowl Plus! Edition. New Plus! desktop themes take advantage of new XP features to create beautiful photos, screen savers, icons, sounds, pointers, WMP skins, and more. These themes include Plus! Aquarium, Plus! Space, Plus! Nature, and Plus! DaVinci. New screensavers include Plus! My Pictures, Plus! Robot Circus, Plus! Sand Pendulum, Plus! Mercury, and four other screensavers that correspond to the new desktop themes. Microsoft Plus! for Windows XP will retail for $39.99.

For more information, read my review of Plus! for Windows XP.

Q. Are there going to be new Power Toys for Windows XP?
A. Yes. add features to the base OS; although some of them are too buggy or slow for daily use, they present an interesting look at how developers might create XP add-ins. The XP PowerToys consist of Faster User Switcher, Shell Audio Player, Task Switcher, IE Find Toolbar, Open Command Window Here, the ever-popular TweakUI, PowerToy Calculator, and Bulk Resize for Photos.

Faster User Switcher lets you type WinKey+Q to bypass the Welcome screen and quickly switch to another logged-on user. Shell Audio Player adds an "Audio Player" toolbar to the XP taskbar and lets you play songs and playlists from the taskbar; the player is a great idea, but it loses its playlist every time you move or change it. The new Task Switcher replaces the standard ALT+TAB capability with a new version that sports thumbnails of each open window; unfortunately, this feature is particular slow. The IE Find Toolbar adds a new toolbar to Internet Explorer (IE) 6 called Find that visually resembles the Address Bar; the toolbar lets you search for text in the currently loaded document without opening a dialog box. Open Command Window Here adds a pop-up menu entry that lets you open command-line windows anywhere in the shell. PowerToy Calculator is a graphing calculator that will be immediately familiar to anyone who used a Texas Instruments (TI) graphing calculator in school. Bulk Resize for Windows lets you resize a photo or group of photos directly from the shell; it does so in various standard sizes and without deleting the originals.

The most interesting PowerToy is TweakUI, which is now a standalone executable instead of a Control Panel applet. TweakUI for Windows XP builds on the features from previous versions of TweakUI and adds new, much-needed XP-specific tasks. For example, you can disable those annoying XP balloon tips, turn off taskbar button grouping, and configure special shell folders such as CD Burning, My Music, My Pictures, and My Videos. Unfortunately, this release is very buggy and setting certain options resets and reorders desktop icons.

For more information, please read my review of the Windows XP PowerToys.

Q. When I upgraded from Windows 9x/Me to Windows XP, the C:\My Documents folder was emptied! What happened to all my documents!?
A. Because Windows XP is a true multi-user system, each user has his or her own documents folder, located in a very specific directory structure. Check out C:\Documents and Settings: You should see a folder under there for each user. Under each user will be a folder called My Documents.

Q. What happened to WINIPCFG.EXE?
A. WINIPCFG.EXE is a GUI application in Windows 9x/Me that lets you check the status of your network connections. Because Windows XP was designed for networking from the ground up, however, and supports far more network connections, something a little more elegant was required. So Windows XP has two replacements for WINIPCFG.EXE. The first is ipconfig.exe, a command line application that supplies the same information, via text interface. The second is a much more elegant (GUI) interface that is individual to each network connection: Just right-click (or double-click) each network connectoid to make configuration changes and check their status

Q. If I want to clean install Windows XP, do I need to create a boot diskette like I did with Windows 9x/Me?
A. No. The Windows XP CD-ROM is bootable.

Q. Will there be a Windows XP Resource Kit?
A. Yes, though Microsoft is marketing it under a new name for some reason. The XP version is now called
Administering Microsoft Windows XP Professional, Operations Guide. You can order it now from and other book stores. It will ship October 10, and the list price is approximately $70 US.

Q: Has the final version of Windows XP been released?
A: Yes, Windows XP was released to manufacturing (RTM) on Friday, August 24, 2001.

Q: What's the final version number?
A: 5.10.2600

Q: When will beta testers get the final code?
A: On Friday, August 24th, beta testers received final code of Home, Pro, and 64-bit Editions, each of which comes with a time limitation, 120 days for Home, and 180 days for Pro. These versions are 100% final code, and only differ from the OEM and retail code in the time limit. In late October, active beta testers will be able to choose a single boxed copy of either Home and Professional Edition.

Q. When will MSDN Universal subscribers get the final code? And what editions will they get?
A. MSDN Universal subscribers will be able to download Windows XP Home and Professional, OEM full versions, from Subscriber Downloads on September 21. It will also ship in the November CD shipments.

Q: When will PCs with Windows XP ship?
A: Probably in early October. Most PC makers say that they will start taking orders on XP-based PC SKUs in late September, and begin shipping systems in early October.

Q: Where is your review of Windows XP?
A: It's now available here.

Q: How do I change drive letter assignments in Windows XP?
A: Right click on My Computer and choose Manage. In the window that appears, click on Disk Management. Then right click any partition you want to reassign and choose Change Drive Letter and Path. You cannot change the drive letter of the boot or system partitions (typically C:).

Q: Can I remove that "Evaluation Copy" text on the desktop from beta versions of Windows XP?
A: Yes, but the cure is worse than the problem. See my Windows XP Tips 'N' Tricks page for more information. This text is not present in the release version of Windows XP.

Q: I upgraded Windows Me/9x to Windows XP Beta 2 and I want to uninstall Windows XP and go back to my previous OS. How do I do this?
A: Open the Start Menu, then Control Panel, and go to Add and Remove Programs. You will see an option to uninstall Windows XP. If you upgraded from Windows 2000 or Windows NT 4.0, there is no uninstall option, so you will need to do a full reinstall from scratch.

Q: I have a DVD drive and heard that you could play DVDs in Windows XP. But when I load up Windows Media Player 8, it tells me that it cannot play DVDs. What gives?
A: Windows XP doesn't ship out of the box with a DVD decoder, so you'll have to get one by installing another DVD player first or an add-on codec first. Usually, you get such a player from your PC maker, so this won't be an issue for most XP customers when the product ships this fall. In the meantime, you can install WinDVD or PowerDVD, and then Windows Media Player will be able to play DVDs in Windows XP. When Windows XP ships, you'll be able to buy one of several low-cost ($10) DVD Encoder Packs for Windows XP from the Microsoft Web site.

Q: I'm seeing a weird little toolbar when I hover the mouse over images on my Active Desktop. How do I turn that off?
A: What you're seeing is the Internet Explorer 6 Image Toolbar. You can turn this off by opening IE 6 and then navigating to Tools, Internet Options. On the Advanced tab, uncheck Enable Image Toolbar under Multimedia.

Q: I heard that Windows XP allowed button grouping in the taskbar, but I don't see this happening. How do I make the taskbar group buttons?
A: It's working, but you don't have enough similar windows open for it to group them. Try open several Explorer windows, several IE 6 windows, and some other apps, all at the same time. They will group. You can control grouping in Taskbar Properties: Right-click the Taskbar and choose Properties. Then make sure the option Group Similar taskbar buttons is checked.

Q: How come different users can't have different screen resolutions? I like the multi-user feature, but would like to set different resolutions for each user.
A: Sorry, that's impossible in Windows XP. Each user must have the same resolution, though just about everything else is customizable on a user-by-user basis.

Q: What's the deal with Windows Product Activation (WPA)? Is Microsoft trying to prevent me from installing my copy of Windows on more than one PC? Are they spying on me?
No. I've written a lot about this technology for Windows 2000 Magazine UPDATE and WinInfo. Please refer to my articles, Clearing Up Some Windows XP Confusion, A Closer Look at Windows Product Activation and Microsoft Reveals Post-RTM Updates for Windows XP for more information. Since writing these, I've seen a lot of other Web sites and magazine try to grapple with this complex issue, and to this day, I have yet to see it described it as accurately or completely.

Q: What happened to Lock Computer? In Windows 2000/NT 4, you hit CTRL+ALT+DEL to bring up a window that lets you choose this. In XP, this just brings up the Task Manager.
A: Type WINKEY+L to lock the computer. Or, turn off the Welcome Screen to go back to the Windows 2000/NT 4 style of logging on (this will enable the Lock Computer option as well): To do this, open User Accounts in Control Panel and choose Change the way users log on and off. Then, uncheck Use the Welcome screen.

Q: I heard that the new version of MSN Explorer will look like Windows XP. Is this true?
A: No. MSN Explorer 6.1 looks almost exactly like the previous version of MSN Explorer. It features a collapsible My Stuff bar, new spell checking, and other features. You can download MSN Explorer 6.1 from the MSN Web site.

Q: Every time I install an application in Windows XP, I get a little balloon help telling me that new programs are installed. The thing is, the little bugger never goes away! Is there an easy way to get rid of this?
A: Yes. Right-click the Start button, choose Properties, Customize, and then Advanced, and then uncheck Highlight newly installed applications.

Q. Does Windows XP include IIS (Microsoft's Web server)? How do you it?
A. Windows XP Professional and 64-bit Edition include IIS 5.1 (Home Edition does not). You can install it by placing your Windows XP CD-ROM in the drive and choosing "Install Additional Components" in the dialog that appears. You'll see IIS in the list.

Q. What do I do if Windows XP doesn't include a driver for a particular piece of hardware? Should I try the Windows 98 driver?
A. No. Normally, you should try the Windows 2000 driver first. Remember that Windows XP is simply the next version of Windows 2000.

Q. How come Open GL games won't work in Windows XP?
A. Open GL is supported through video card drivers, not the OS. Some Windows XP drivers do support this feature, but some don't. If yours doesn't, located the latest Windows 2000 driver for your card and install it. Quake 3 Arena and your other Open GL favorites should work once again.

Q. Will my Windows 9x anti-virus software work in Windows XP?
A. Probably not. But AV vendors are beginning to release Windows XP-compatible products, such as Norton Anti-Virus 2002. Other Windows 9x products that you shouldn't use in Windows XP include disk utilities and other low-level system utilities. But Windows XP will warn you about these applications during the upgrade process, or later, if you try to install them in Windows XP.

Q. What file system does Windows XP support? Just FAT? Or does it support NTFS as well?
A. Windows XP supports FAT/FAT16 (the legacy file system dating back to DOS), VFAT (from Windows 95), FAT32 (which debuted in Windows 95 OSR-2), and NTFS (the NT/2000 file system). You can choose which to use, and you can use different file systems on different partitions if you want. If you're upgrading to XP, you'll be asked if you want to upgrade your file system to NTFS.

Incidentally, Windows XP includes NTFS version 3.1, which is newer than the version used in Windows 2000. This means that Windows 2000-era disk utilities--such as Diskeeper and Partition Magic 6--should
not be used with Windows XP. If you want to use either of these applications, be sure you're using the latest, Windows XP-compatible version.

Q. So which file system should I use?
A. You should always use NTFS in Windows XP
unless you are going to dual-boot a system with Windows 9x/Me and XP and wish to access your XP partition from the old 9x-based OS. Remember that Windows 9x/Me cannot access NTFS file systems. However... You can access NTFS partitions over a network.

Q. I've heard that you can convert drives to NTFS when upgrading, but if I do this, can I still uninstall XP and return to my previous Windows 9x/Me version?
A. No. If you think you're going to want to uninstall XP, do not allow it to convert your drives during Setup. Instead, wait a few weeks and ensure that XP works on your system first, and then run the
convert.exe command line tool to convert any FAT or FAT32 drives to NTFS, on the fly, without destroying any of your data.

Q. I've heard that Windows XP will unleash a new wave of Internet-based Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. Is Windows XP insecure?
A. No. As Microsoft likes to point out, Windows XP is its most secure operating system to date, thanks to features like Windows Driver Signing, System Restore, driver rollback, Internet Connection Firewall (ICF), and new privacy features in IE 6. However, there isn't much you can do about user error. Most compromised systems got that way because the user opened an unknown email attachment--unleashing a trojan or worm on the system.

Q: OK, Windows XP is a huge upgrade for Windows 9x/Me users, but I'm happy with Windows 2000. Why would I want to upgrade?
A. You might not want to, actually. But there are some pretty decent improvements in Windows XP that might make you change your mind: Remote Assistance, Remote Desktop, better laptop support, Windows Messenger-based audio and video conferencing, integrated digital media features, better compatibility with Windows 9x-based games, application, and hardware, and more. Windows XP is also more secure than Windows 2000, and more reliable.

Q. Speaking of compatibility, how good is XP's hardware and software compatibility?
A. In general, XP's compatibility is excellent. Microsoft reports that more than 90 percent of the Win2K/NT and Window Me/9x applications distributed in North America during the past 3 years will work fine with XP. And to iron out any remaining problems, Microsoft will deliver new updates through Windows Update. The company guarantees that virtually all new applications from major software retailers will be XP compatible. In addition, XP is compatible with more than 12,000 hardware devices out of the box, including the top 1000 best-selling devices. More than 300 devices have already received the new XP logo, which ensures a higher quality of driver compatibility and user experience. Microsoft tells me that the vast majority of Win2K drivers will work fine with XP, although some scanners, multifunction devices, video-capture cards, CD-ROM writers, and USB Web cameras might experience problems. The company is continuing to work with hardware vendors on these issues.

Q. Windows 98 Plus! and Windows Me included a cool feature called Compressed Folders. Is there something similar in Windows XP?
A. Yes, Windows XP ships with Compressed Folders, which provides a handy way to compress a file or group of files into a smaller compressed "ZIP" file. However, Compressed Folders is slow when working with numerous or large numbers of files. If you find this program to be a bit anemic, I recommend WinZIP 8.1, currently in beta.

Q. The little animated dog in Windows XP Search is annoying, to say the least. How do I remove it?
A. When you click the Search button and the dog appears, choose
Turn off animated character. You can also make Windows XP Search act like Windows 2000 Search (which I prefer, incidentally) by clicking Change Preferences, then Change files and folders search behavior; then choose Advanced.

Q. What happened to Active Desktop? Is it still present in Windows XP?
A. Yes, Active Desktop is still there, but Microsoft has hidden it so users don't need to manually turn it on and off. If you add any Web content--or a GIF or JPEG image--to your desktop, Windows XP will automatically enable Active Desktop. If you turn off these features, Windows XP will turn off Active Desktop as well, behind the scenes.

Q. I want to do audio and video chatting with my friends who have MSN Messenger (I'm using Windows XP and Windows Messenger). How come it doesn't work?
A. Microsoft needs to update MSN Messenger before you can exchange audio and video with those users. The company says they will release an update on October 25th to enable this compatibility.

Q. Microsoft says that Windows XP will run with a Pentium II 233 and 64 MB of RAM. Is this realistic?
A. No. I recommend a 500 MHz or faster Pentium III and 256 MB or more of RAM for Windows XP.

Q. What are the other system requirements for Windows XP?
A: Windows XP requires 1.5 GB of available drive space, SVGA (800 x 600) or higher resolution video adapter and monitor, a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive, and a keyboard and mouse.

Q. I have two home computers. Will I have to buy two copies of Windows XP?
A. Yes. Windows XP includes a technology called WPA (discussed above), which enforces a license Microsoft has been using for years (that is, you're supposed to buy one copy of Windows for each computer). However, there are ways in which you can minimize your costs. If you only need Home Edition, and you qualify for the upgrade version, buy two copies of that. Or use Microsoft's new Additional Family License (AFL) option to get 8 to 12 percent off the cost of the second installation. I'll have more information about the AFL when Microsoft makes an official pricing announcement.

Q. I read that Windows XP includes a firewall. Is this true?
A. Yes. Windows XP includes a firewall called Internet Connection Firewall (ICF), which can protect your home network against intrusion. It's a zero-configuration option, too: Just check a box and it's on. Note that ICF is inbound-only: It won't prevent you from sending out trojans and viruses if you're system is infected. To get more functionality than ICF provides, try a full-featured firewall such as ZoneAlarm.

Q. How do I get America Online (AOL) working in Windows XP?
A. AOL 6 is only "sort of" compatible with Windows XP, but the recently released AOL 7 works just fine with XP.

Q. How do I know if I qualify for an upgrade version of Windows XP?
A. You must have a retail Windows 98, 98 SE, Millennium Edition (Me), NT 4.0, or 2000 CD-ROM, Full Version or Upgrade, to qualify for the Windows XP upgrade versions. Restore CDs from PC makers do not qualify.

Q. Will Windows XP be as fast/responsive as my current version of Windows?
A. Microsoft says that Windows XP performs 5 percent to 20 percent faster than Windows Me and Windows 9x and is on par with Win2K. "Windows XP gets faster as you use it, too," Kristian Gyorkos, an XP product manager, told me, "because of its dynamic, self-tuning features. Periodically, the application-launch, system-boot, and file-placement routines are optimized." Microsoft notes that Standby and Resume performance has also improved.

Based on my own personal use, I can verify that XP seems to be on par with Windows 2000. I find it hard to believe that it outperforms 9x. However, Windows XP is much more secure, stable and reliable than Windows 9x, a more than acceptable trade-off in my opinion.

Q. How do I network Windows XP with Windows 9x machines?
A. Unlike Windows 9x/Me, Windows XP is secure, so you have to be logged on as a particular user--with specific rights--before you are granted network access. To make Windows 9x/Me work with Windows XP, then, you will need to ensure that the Windows 9x boxes are logged on with a user name and password that appears on the XP box. Then, you should have no problem sharing resources between the two machines.

Q. Will Microsoft upgrade Windows XP now that it's finalized?
A. Actually, yes, and quite often too. Since Microsoft released XP to manufacturing, the company has updated several system components, and users will be able to download these updates through Windows Update when XP becomes widely available. Microsoft will extensively update Windows Messenger, for example, to include compatibility with Exchange Server 2000. The company will update Windows Movie Maker (WMM) from version 1.1, which ships in the box with XP, to version 1.2. WMM 1.2 includes support for Windows Media Audio 8 (WMA 8) and Windows Media Video 8 (WMV 8) and will include a 640 x 480 WMV mode for digital video. To prevent system failures, Microsoft has hardened several system drivers since the Release Candidate 2 (RC2) release; previously, users could install these drivers even when XP warned them not to. Now XP will actually prevent the installation of known problem drivers.

Q. Can I reboot into DOS with Windows XP?
A. No. Windows XP is not based on DOS, as is Windows 9x. However, Windows XP does support a DOS-like command line environment, and you can run most DOS applications--and even many DOS games--in Windows XP.

Windows XP also supports an optional boot-time command line environment called the Recover Console. As its name suggests, the Recovery Console is only designed to be used in the event of a system problem. To enable it, insert your Windows XP CD-ROM and type
D:\i386\winnt32.exe /cmdcons in a command line (assuming your CD drive is D:).

Q. Can I dual-boot between Windows XP and a previous OS?
A. Yes, but you will have to have two partitions (or hard drives) so that you can install XP separately from your other system (which can be DOS/Windows 3.1, Windows 9x/Me, Windows NT 4.0, or Windows 2000). Windows XP will automatically set up a boot menu so you can choose which OS you want when the machine starts up or reboots.

The boot menu is configurable by hand-editing the hidden file boot.ini, which you will find in the root of the C: drive. A better way to change the boot-up sequence, however, is to right-click My Computer, choose Properties, then
Advanced, then click Settings under Startup and Recovery.

Q. I like the new Welcome screen, but it doesn't give me the option to log on as Administrator. How can I do this?
A: There are two ways to do this: First, you can use the "old" login screen, instead of the Welcome screen, as Administrator doesn't appear on the Welcome screen by default. To enable this, open User Accounts, choose
Change the way users log on or off, and then uncheck Use the Welcome screen. Or, use the TweakUI for Windows XP Power Toy to add Administrator to the Welcome screen. This tool will not be available in final form, however, until XP ships in late October.

Thanks to several readers who pointed out that you can also get the classic Windows 2000-style logon to appear by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL twice at the Welcome screen; this will allow you to logon as Administrator.

Q. What happened to NetBEUI (an older Microsoft networking protocol)? My home network uses this.
A. NetBEUI is no longer supported and I don't recommend using it: Go with the more powerful, and routable, TCP/IP protocol instead, which is the default in Windows XP. But if you must have NetBEUI, Microsoft made it available on the Windows XP CD-ROM as an optional install. It's in D:
Valueadd\msft\net\netbeui by default. You add it by configuring a network adapter and choosing Properties, General, Install.

Q. You seem unnaturally positive about Windows XP. Are you a Microsoft shill? How much is Microsoft paying you to write about Windows XP?
A. I'm honestly very excited about Windows XP, and yes, it does come through in my writing about this OS. I come down hard on Microsoft when they deserve it, but there is precious little in Windows XP to complain about (aside, obviously, from Windows Product Activation). But I don't work for--or get paid by--Microsoft.

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