As you have seen in this chapter, Windows XP is not a single operating system but rather an entire family of operating systems, each with its own distinguishing characteristics. This book covers some in great detail and others not at all. For example, if you've picked up this book to gain insight into the Windows Media Center edition, you should probably consider returning to the bookstore for a refund or at least some store credit; this particular title's not going to be much help.
If, on the other hand, you're seeking a better understanding of Windows XP Home and Professional, then you've definitely come to the right place. This book will present lots of useful information to help you get the most out of your operating system. It will also introduce you to new possibilities of computer use in order to help you work more efficiently.
This chapter has placed the different Windows operating system versions under the microscope, allowing you to make a more informed choice about which OS will best suit your needs.
We also looked at one of the most elementaryyet absolutely essentialoperating system tasks: installation. You have more than a few choices about operating system installation. These include deciding whether to perform an upgrade or clean installation and whether you want to set up a dual-boot machine. And no matter what your installation choice, you'll have to activate XP after it's installed.
Your new XP machine might not be the first computer in your life, and if this is the case, you will likely want to transfer your old files and settings to your new system. You can do this with a number of third-party solutions, but you can also get the job done with the File and Settings Transfer Wizard. This chapter stepped you through this vital post-installation procedure.
In Chapter 3, we'll examine one of the most basic aspects of computer use: startup and shutdown. "How hard can that be?" you ask. "All I have to do is hit this little power switch thingy down here by my knee." My response: it's certainly not complicated to turn the computer on and off, but it's also something you do almost every day of your computing life. And speaking of your knee, what happens if you hit the power switch accidentally? Can you configure your system so that your work is not totally interrupted? The answer to these concerns and more can be found in the next chapter.