Windows XP / Beginners

Upgrading the Basic Stuff

You probably have a printer, but it may not suit your needs - heck, photoquality printers are so good nowadays that I'm frequently tempted to throw my old printer out the window. Your monitor may have died - or you might've fallen in love with that gorgeous 21-inch flat hussy at your local Comput-O-Rama. Perhaps that giant 20GB hard drive that you bought two years ago doesn't look so gigantic anymore - particularly since the kids discovered how easy it is to transfer pictures taken on the digital camera.

For the most part, basic upgrades under Windows XP go slick as can be.

Dealing with drivers

Most types of devices raise the question of compatibility: Will this gadget work with Windows XP? You can dissect that question a thousand different ways, but the real acid test is a simple one: Is a good driver available for the hardware? (A driver is a program that allows Windows XP to interact with the hardware.)

In most cases, the answer is yes simply because Microsoft now hounds hardware manufacturers who have the temerity to distribute bad drivers.

Most Windows XP crashes, and a big part of Microsoft Product Support's workload, stems from bad device drivers - which Microsoft didn't write!

Hard as it may be to believe, that new piece of hardware you just bought may require no driver at all because its interface to the computer is completely standardized, so that Windows XP can operate any device of the same type. Most (but not all!) keyboards, monitors, and mice work like that. Any such device may have unique features that are available only with an appropriate driver, though.

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