Section 1.5. Migrating to Windows XP

1.5. Migrating to Windows XP

Migration is typically a term used by system administrators to describe the lengthy process of upgrading some or all the computers in an organization to a new software product, but nearly all of the issues faced apply to anyone upgrading to Windows XP from an earlier version.

While the previous section covered issues dealing with the actual installation of Windows XP, the following topics discuss the steps you may need to take after the upgrade has taken place.

1.5.1. Casualties of the Upgrade

As you've probably discovered on your own, there are a number of hardware and software products that simply won't work with Windows XP. Some of these products are simply awaiting driver updates from their respective manufacturers, while others have been abandoned by their manufacturers with no hope of future support.

If you haven't yet upgraded to Windows XP, it's best to first check with the manufacturers of each and every card, drive, printer, input device, and other peripheral you use to make sure your devices are supported under Windows XP, either out of the box or via a driver update. Naturally, it wouldn't be the least bit practical to try and list each individual incompatible device here, but the following list should give you an idea of the types of products that may cause problems with Windows XP (or any new operating system, for that matter).

Also available is the Microsoft Windows Upgrade Advisor (MSUA), mentioned in "Upgrading from a Previous Version of Windows," earlier in this chapter. The MSUA scans your system and compares it to a list of devices and software known to cause problems with Windows XP. While its internal list is far from complete, it will certainly warn you of any incompatibilities of which Microsoft is aware. Start it by inserting the Windows XP CD and clicking Check system compatibility and then Check my system automatically. You can also download it from

As with the move to any new operating system, there are some software and hardware components that either won't be compatible with the new version, or are version-dependant, and must be updated to work with the new version.

Any versions of the following products not specifically designed to work with Windows XP will most likely need to be updated or removed:

  • Any software that works with settings specific to any single version of Windows, such as Microsoft TweakUI (versions 1.33 and earlier). See Appendix A for details.

  • Older backup software, such as Veritas Backup (all versions) and Seagate Backup Exec. However, any backup software made for Windows 2000 should work in Windows XP equally well. This is of special importance, because whatever software you use to back up Windows before upgrading will need to be supported in Windows XP. Otherwise, the backup you create will most likely be inaccessible.

  • Antivirus and low-level disk utility software, such as Norton Utilities and Norton Antivirus, tend to cause problems when used in any operating system other than the one for which they were specifically designed.

  • CD-R/DVDR burning and CD-RW packet-writing software not designed specifically for Windows XP may interfere with the built-in CD burner features in Windows XP, or may stop functioning because of said features. Examples include Roxio Easy CD Creator (versions 5.0 and earlier) and any version of DirectCD released before 2002.

  • Games, especially the more graphic-intensive and 3D-accelerated ones, frequently have problems with newer versions of Windows, especially those based on Windows NT (such as Windows 2000, and yes, Windows XP). While you won't have to remove these games before you upgrade to Windows XP, you may need to contact the manufacturers of any games that won't function in XP for any patches, updates, or special settings required for their games to run on Windows XP. Since games are rarely updated to work with newer versions of Windows, you may need to set up a dual-boot system (as described later in this chapter) just to run older games.

  • Any software that requires that you boot directly into DOS will not function on a Windows XP system, as DOS is no longer part of the operating system. Try launching the program in compatibility mode, as described in Chapter 6.

  • Certain types of hardware are more dependent on features found in specific operating systems and are less likely to be supported under newer versions of Windows. Such devices typically include TV and radio cards, webcams, video capture devices, digital cameras and memory- card readers, flatbed scanners, film scanners, synchronization cradles for handheld computers, older digitizers (tablets), oddball printers and pointing devices, CD changers, and DVD decoders. If you can't obtain newer drivers and software for any of these less-common peripherals, they may not work in Windows XP at all.

    Few, if any, of the aforementioned issues should apply to the upgrade from Windows XP to XP Service Pack 2. However, the security changes discussed in Chapter 7 may cause some network-enabled software to break. Fortunately, these types of problems can typically be fixed by changing settings in the Windows Firewall or the software at issue.

If you find that one or more software or hardware products won't work in Windows XP, setting up a dual-boot system with an older version of Windows, as described later in this chapter, may be the answer.

1.5.2. Adjusting Windows XP to Smooth Out the Migration

Aside from the hardware and software incompatibilities discussed in the preceding section, the task of undoing some of the changes made by Setup is what will be on most users' minds right after upgrading to Windows XP. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to ease the transition:

Visual style of screen elements

Make Windows XP look more like previous versions of Windows by going to Control Panel Display Windows Classic style from the Windows and buttons list.

Overly complex Start Menu

To revert to the simpler single-column Start Menu found in earlier versions of Windows, go to Control Panel Taskbar and Start Menu Start Menu tab, and select the Start menu option.

Animation and other eye candy

The animation and other eye candy used with windows, menus, lists, and even your mouse cursor is more prevalent in Windows XP than any previous version of Windows. See "Tame Mindless Animation and Display Effects" in Chapter 5 for details.

Categories in Control Panel

The categories in Control Panel, which are somewhat superfluous, can be removed by opening the Control Panel window (not the Control Panel menu in the Start Menu, nor the Control Panel folder in Windows Explorer, however), and clicking Switch to Classic View in the Common Tasks pane. If Control Panel appears as a menu in the Start Menu, you can open it in its own window by double-clicking or by right-clicking the Control Panel item and selecting Open. If you don't want a Common Tasks pane, see the next topic.

Common Tasks pane in folder windows

The Common Tasks pane is supposed to show links to additional programs and features, depending on the folder currently being viewed, but most of the time, it's just unnecessary clutter. If you prefer the simpler, cleaner folders found in earlier versions of Windows, go to Control Panel Use Windows classic folders option.

Hijacking of file types

Every time you run Windows Setup, it will reclaim a bunch of different file-type associations without asking. For example, your default applications for .html files (web pages), .jpg images, and .zip files (archives), are all forgotten in favor of Microsoft's replacements. The fact that Windows doesn't preserve your associations, or at least ask before overwriting them, should be attributed to nothing more than laziness on the part of Microsoft's developers.

See "File Types: The Link Between Documents and Applications" in Chapter 4 for details. See "Turn off the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer" in Chapter 4, for more information on the treatment of image files in Windows XP.

To turn off Windows built-in support for .zip files, wherein they're treated like folders instead of files, see "Fix the Search Tool" in Chapter 2.

New Search tool

See "Fix the Search Tool" in Chapter 2 to work around the consequences of the changes in Window XP's Search tool from previous sections.

Icons for system and desktop objects

The icons used for the system objects, such as My Computer and the Recycle Bin, have a new look in Windows XP. If you prefer the icons used in earlier versions of Windows, see "Cleaning Up Desktop Clutter" in Chapter 4. Note that nearly all of the older icons can be found in the file, \Windows\System32\SHELL32.dll. Where to find it in Windows XP

A common problem encountered by those who are new to Windows XP, yet familiar with a previous version, is that some features are no longer found in the same places or simply have different names. The following lists some of the more major components that have been moved or renamed:

Network Neighborhood

This is now called My Network Places and works pretty much the same (albeit a bit more reliably) as in earlier versions of Windows. Note that the networks and computers previously directly accessible through Network Neighborhood in some earlier versions of Windows are now buried under Entire Network\Microsoft Windows Network. To counteract this, Windows XP will automatically place shortcuts to some remote folders right in the My Network Places folder."

My Computer icon on the desktop

By default, the My Computer icon is not shown on the Windows XP desktop, but all the entries it contained can be found in both the Start Menu and Windows Explorer. To put the icon back on the desktop, go to Control Panel My Computer option.

Control Panel in My Computer

By default, Control Panel no longer appears in the My Computer window, but it's still available in the Start Menu. You can also go to Control Panel Folder Options View tab, and turn on the Show Control Panel in My Computer option. Confusingly, it will still appear under the My Computer branch in Windows Explorer, regardless of this setting.

Dial-up networking

Dial-up connections are now considered ordinary network connections, and can be found in the Network Connections window.


Although some earlier versions of Windows (e.g., Windows 9x/Me) relied on the old DOS operating system (described in Chapter 10), Windows XP is based instead on the more robust Windows NT kernel. This means, among other things, that you'll no longer be able to boot directly to DOS, unless you've set up a dual-boot system, as described later in this chapter. The good news is that booting to DOS is really not necessary any more.

Boot disk

Mostly because of the absence of DOS, Windows XP has no provision for making a boot disk that can start Windows XP. See "Create a Boot Disk" in Chapter 6 for applicable alternatives.

Web View

The Web View, at least as it existed in Windows 98, Me, and 2000, is thankfully gone in Windows XP. Although it can't be customized in the way that the Web View could, the Common Tasks pane (described in "Adjusting Windows XP to Smooth Out the Migration," earlier in this chapter) accomplishes most of what Microsoft originally intended the Web View to do. And fortunately, Common Tasks can be switched off much more easily than the Web View ever could.

    Windows XP Annoyances For Geeks
    Fixing Windows XP Annoyances
    ISBN: 0596100531
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2003
    Pages: 97
    Authors: David A. Karp

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