Tech Talk

Permanent link to The eXPerience The eXPerience

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

A couple days late, but got my main system converted from Windows 2000 to Windows XP. I did a clean install, so took one whole day to make sure all (7+ GB!) of my data and settings were safely copied to another machine, formatted the drive, and started fresh.


I'd installed XP before, so there wasn't anything new to see. Besides, it's just like a Windows 2000 installation anyway. I like the new interface, but the humongous Start Menu is really confusing - where's my stuff? My mouse hand keeps making the old motions, and I have to stop and think about what I want to get, then go do it.

First Impressions

I have to admit, I have low expectations going into this. All I've read is that XP isn't worth the trouble if you're already on 2000, and there's been a lot of complaining about Passport and the authentication stuff. So, I loaded up all my standard software, downloaded audio, video, scanner, and printer drivers, and watched everything work just like usual. Windows warned me my company's virus scanner wasn't compatible, but it's running fine anyway. The only thing I couldn't install was a Cisco VPN client, but I easily and quickly configured a Windows VPN connection that worked after I took the default encryption level down a notch.

So, all my software's running great, but the interface is still getting to me. I switched it back to "old" Windows 2000 style, but then went back, because what's the point in trying a new operating system if you make it look like the old one? :) A little tweaking in the Start Menu settings helped, especially as I figured out how it displays recently run programs just like a recently opened documents list - hey this is actually useful!

What finally won me over to the new interface was switching to the Silver scheme. Ahh, much cooler, way more sophisticated, and very slick. Now I'm starting to get the "new stuff" excitement: Internet Explorer flies! I was running 5.01 in Windows 2000, and opens noticeably faster now than it used to. Another, unrelated, little change I've been waiting on for a long time is single-click operation. In all previous Windows iterations, single-click slowed everything down just enough to be annoying. Now, it's full speed ahead! Nice. Now I can browse my computer just like the Internet, from hyperlink to hyperlink.

Photo Power

I'd discovered some of the nice tools in XP in running the beta versions, and have been looking forward to trying them out. Actually, the one-button rotate photo feature is one of the main reasons I moved to XP in the first place. I love the "Filmstrip" view Windows offers when it opens a folder of photos, offering a strip of small (but not too small to see) thumbnails that open a bigger view when selected. Windows 2000 has a nice photo preview template, too, but it was always too small. This makes much more sense - you pick the file because you want to see it!

It gets better. I inserted the Compact Flash card to pull the photos off my camera onto my computer, and XP asked me what I wanted to do: open, view a slideshow, nothing at all, and a couple other options. I chose slideshow and a couple seconds later am flipping through a full-screen presentation of all the photos on the card - sweet! That's cool.


Uh oh, DVD playback. Intervideo's 3.0 software runs great on Dumbo, but the digital output is skipping - normal is OK. Dell's latest drivers don't help, but Windows Update has ones that do. I'm impressed.

Maybe the most pleasant experience has been the new system sounds. Gone are the harsh error DINGs, replaced by softer, more rounded tones. Very pleasant - I almost look forward to errors so I can hear them!

And more

  • I installed the Terminal Services client, only to discover XP has the Remote Desktop Connection - way nicer, so I chunked TS.
  • My network printer ran out of paper, and XP let me know with a polite little popup in the Systray, and that wonderful warning tone.
  • IE search supports Google - finally.
  • The built-in Help system simultaneously queries Microsoft's Support Knowledgebase along with the local help system - very handy.
  • The systray automatically hides inactive icons, thanks!
  • Finally! The widgets in Internet Explorer are updated! I love the flat effect, and how the drop down lists go way long. If only the drop down were a true combo-box, sigh.

What can I say? I'm impressed, everything works (amazing! even my HP scanner and printer), and I have a fresh clean system to work with.


LaRocque Family