Driving Windows XP
My first car was a 15-year-old 1963 Chevrolet Biscayne. I bought it for $50. I drove it one summer
for 3000 miles, then sold it for $50. The only maintenance cost was a $15 distributor. Gas was only 30
cents a gallon in those days, so I had a cheap ride. My next car was only two years old, and the
difference was amazing. Smoother, faster, it was both smaller and got better gas mileage. Upgrading to
Windows XP was a similar experience.
It's been about a month since I built my machine, based on a very fast Athlon chip. I had my old
Windows 98 loaded and I was very happy with the performance. It was a good cheap ride. Then I loaded
I hadn't planned on doing that. I've been migrating toward Linux since the summer, having loaded it on
my office machine. There was no way I was going to pay three hundred dollars for an operating system,
especially Windows. Especially one that required the user to reveal information about your computer and
yourself. Especially one that requires you to get permission to change hardware to continue the
Then Mike Wright showed up at the TPC meeting with a copy of Windows XP Professional. He
had gotten it at Comdex the week previous. He was not interested in using it because his
hardware was not up to the task. He graciously offered to auction it at the meeting, the proceeds going
to the TPC.
XP is like a Lexus compared to Windows 98. I was wary about loading it because I had heard that drivers
were not available for all hardware. Remember, this machine I had built from parts. Windows XP has a
nice feature where you run an assistant to find out what kind of problems you will have with drivers
before installing. This worked wonders for me. The list showed five different software applications
requiring either new drivers or other slight adjustments. Only RoboWord and McAfee Anti Virus I could
not upgrade. I did download the new driver for the ADSL modem before installing. This avoided a chicken-
and-egg problem getting new drivers.
It took about ninety minutes to install Windows XP. I chose the upgrade function so that it would keep
all of my settings for menus and favorites and other minutiae intact. It seemed to think for very long
time without much hard disk activity at the beginning. It made up for it in the end. The installation
On startup, there were a number of annoying messages trying to point me toward things like Microsoft
Network and other affiliated companies. Even though it installed Windows Media Player, it kept by
default Real Audio player. Less annoying but just as insistent, were the suggestions for all manner of
things to make operation easier. The initial tour was a long commercial for Microsoft. The short
suggestions were much more helpful. In general the help was even more helpful.
After using it for about four days I've noticed a significant increase in every part of the operation
of my computer. The CD starts spinning on startup and goes to the regular speed, then continues to a
high-pitched whine, spinning faster than I have ever heard it to before. Common functions like Internet
and email, applications like Word and even this speech recognition system work faster and more
I've just finished activating Windows, which took all of ten seconds. I chose not to register and have
not given any personal information. We'll see how long that lasts. I wish I had more than just good
things to say about Windows XP. I was originally quite skeptical, but have found it very easy to use.
The only real glitch came with trying to uninstall the McAfee virus scan program. I had to access their
site and follow instructions which took about 30 minutes to delete more than 100 lines in various
places in the registry. If you have McAfee version 5 or less, don't just disable it, delete it before
installing Windows XP.
I'll keep you posted on my new adventures with Windows XP.
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