NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
To XP or Not to XP
If You're Going to Upgrade, Get Ready Now...

by Steve Bass, Pasadena IBM Users Group, November 2001
(click to email author)

I'm going to upgrade. Yep, I'm breaking one of Bass International's number one rules, but I think it's going to be worth it.

I can't give you all the details because it's coming out in December's PC World Home Office column (hey, they pay the mortgage). What I can do, however, is share parts of my upgrade experience, things that I didn't have space to say in the PC World column.

DOS Programs: Every legacy application I tried worked. A 1988 version of FoxBASE+ 2.10, WordStar 7.0, Norton Commander, and even a 1984 copy of Autodex 1.0, something few of you could possibly remember.

More intriguing is Win XP's ability to run these programs better-faster and with more stability-than Win 9x. Why? Who knows, folks, magic maybe, but it does. I had trouble with only one program-an early Windows version of Ventura Publisher. It turns out that even the current version of VP won't run under Windows XP.

Advice: Read MS's "Reliability Improvements" article that explains why XP's more stable than Win 9.x. It's at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/techinfo/planning/reliability/prevention.asp

Then read "Windows XP Application Compatibility Technologies," a very comprehensive article that explains how to tweak apps so they'll run in XP. Pay special attention to the QfixApp, a tool that gets you to the database of compatibility fixes included with XP. http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/techinfo/planning/appcompat/default.asp

Drivers and Upgrades: My Turtle Beach Santa Cruz sound card wouldn't work with XP.

Advice: As with any Operating System upgrade (excluding Amiga and GEOS), dig out the drivers and upgrades before you start the upgrade. If you can, burn them onto a CD-ROM.

Networking: Lots, lots easier than in Win 9.x with one proviso...you'll have to dump NETBEUI on the other PCs in the network. Win XP relies totally on TCP/IP.

Advice: Hone up on your networking skills or hire a consultant to get up to speed. Read MS's "Home and Small Office Network Topologies," article at: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/techinfo/planning/networking/topologies.asp

Internet Explorer: IE 6.0 doesn't support Netscape-style plug-ins. The only one I missed-and was annoyed with MS's removal of--Apple's QuickTime player. That meant I couldn't play MOV videos. MS claims it's for security. I say it's hogwash and a way to lock out Apple. By the time you read this, MS and Apple have probably tweaked the QuickTime Player to support ActiveX controls for IE 6.

Advice: If the QuickTime player doesn't work, find the patch on MS's site.

Getting a Jump: One good place to see if your PC is ready for XP is with PC Pitstop. They have a neat-o XP test site that examines your PC's operating system, CPU speed, BIOS version, amount of memory, available hard drive space, and video capabilities. The results tell you how your machine matches up to XP's minimum and recommended requirements. The tool is available for you to try at http://www.pcpitstop.com/xpready

MS also has many good articles if you're a tinkerer:

I'll have more to say about my XP upgrade experience next month.

Steve Bass is a Contributing Editor with PC World and runs the Pasadena IBM Users Group. Write to him at steve_bass@pcworld.com. Check PCW's current edition at http://www.pcworld.com/resource/toc/index.asp and sign up for the Steve Bass online newsletter at http://www.pcworld.com/bass_letter.

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