• 01Oct

    This is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to installing and configuring Windows XP, originally developed by PC Pete, now a part of NYISI. NYISI will continue to develop and support this guide.

    -1. Foreword

    Re-installing Windows XP can be a painful experience. Despite Microsoft’s claims regarding Vista, the “wow starts now” when you say, “wow, this wasn’t much of an upgrade at all”. These disaffected Vista users might want to switch back to Windows XP. But anyone with an older PC that already had Windows XP installed would almost be foolish to upgrade to Vista without any compelling reason. Gaming support for DirectX 10 is one of the most common reasons to upgrade to Vista, but unless this is the reason you need Vista, you might be surprised to see how fast, cost-free, and hassle-free Windows XP can be with a fresh install and some extra software. This how-to guide explains step-by-step how to install Windows XP, and some useful free software.

    0. Back up everything

    This is step 0 because if you’re doing this on a new PC, or simply don’t care, you can skip this step.

    However, if you need the data or settings on your PC, you’ll want to have a way to bring everything back. So before doing anything here to your own PC, make a backup of everything on your system using a drive imaging tool. The tools for this task are commercially developed and cost money to use. However, both drive imaging tools featured here offer free trials for evaluation. This will give you either 14 or 30 days to restore anything you need, without having to pay. You can always keep the backup, and decide to buy the software later if you need the backup for more than the time limit on the software. Otherwise, 14 to 30 days is more than enough time for this task.

    Back to top…

    1. Re-install the operating system

    a) Re-install Windows XP

    If you’ll be installing XP regularly, it’s worth checking out how to make your own unattended installation disc with nLite. You can also use nLite to roll-up Windows Updates and service packs, like Service Pack 3 (SP3).

    b) Configure O/S settings & options

    You’ll want to be able to see what you’re doing during the rest of these steps, so a good first step is to set some basic options in the O/S.

    i. Display Properties

    First set the display options. Right-click the desktop and select Properties.

    1. On
      the “Desktop” tab, you can select a new Destop background image to use.
      You can slightly improve performance by selecting “None”, and instead
      choosing a solid color.
    2. On the “Appearance” tab, you
      can select the overall look and feel of Windows. You can significantly
      improve performance by selecting the “Windows and buttons” option and
      choosing the “Windows Classic style” setting.
    3. Still on the “Appearance” tab, click “Effects…”.
      • Un-check:
        • Use the following transition effect for menus and tooltips
        • Shows shadows under menus
        • Show window contents while dragging
        • Hide underlined letters for keyboard navigation until I press the Alt key
      • Check:
        • Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts
        • Select “ClearType” from the drop-down menu
      • Optional:
        • Use large icons – check this if you have bad eyesight or if you will select a high display resolution in the next step.
    4. Click “OK” to return to the “Display Properties” dialog
    5. On
      the “Settings” tab, adjust the “Screen resolution” slider to the
      resolution you desire. Higher is generally better, but sometimes you
      may want a lower resolution, such as if you have bad eyesight or if you
      have a monitor that doesn’t support high resolutions.
    6. Click OK to close the display properties dialog.

    ii. Add key icons to the desktop

    is helpful to add frequently used icons to the desktop. For some
    reason, Microsoft felt that users wanted a desktop with less clutter.
    In practice, a lot of software installs shortcuts on the desktop
    anyway, including some software by Microsoft.

    1. Click “Start”
    2. Right click “My Computer”
    3. Click “Show on desktop”
    4. Right click “My Documents”
    5. Click “Show on desktop”

    iii. System Properties / Performance Options

    “System Properties” dialog contains a number of key settings. Now is a
    good time to set some of these options, especially the options on the
    “Performance Options” dialog, which can dramatically help improve
    performance by disabling some needless animations and other display
    features. Using the desktop icon we just created (or the start menu

    1. Right-click “My Computer”
    2. Click “Properties”
    3. Select the “Advanced” tab
      • In the section “Performance” click “Settings”, which opens the “Performance Options” dialog to the “Visual Effects” tab.
      • Select “Adjust for best performance”
      • In the set of check boxes, check:
        • “Smooth edges of screen fonts”
        • “User drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop”
      • In the set of check boxes, optionally check:
        • “Use common tasks in folders” – puts links to common tasks in the left sidebar when opening folders in Windows Explorer.
        • “Use
          visual styles on windows and buttons” – check this if you plan to use a
          theme other than the “Windows Classic style”, such as the default
          “Green” theme.
      • Click “OK” to return to the “Advanced” tab on the “System Properties” dialog
    4. Click the “Error Reporting” button
      • Select “Disable error reporting”
      • Check “But notify me when critical errors occur”
      • Click “OK” to return to the “Advanced” tab on the “System Properties” dialog
    5. Switch to the “System Restore” tab
      • Windows
        allocates 12% of your hard drive to the System Restore service. This is
        a bit much. Move slider slightly to the left to reduce the amount of
        hard drive space to reserve for System Restore. 2000MB should be enough
        for most people, but up to 5000GB may be used just to be safe, if
        desired. 2000MB should be more than enough for most people. We’ll come
        back to the System Restore tab once more later in this process.
    6. Switch to the “Automatic Updates” tab
      • Select
        “Turn off Automatic Updates”. This is temporary until we install some
        basic software. We’ll re-enable automatic updates later.
    7. Switch to the “Remote” tab
      • Un-check “Allow Remote Assistance invitations to be sent from this computer”
      • Un-check “Allow users to connect remotely to this computer”
        • Check
          this option if you want to use the built in Remote Desktop features in
          Windows to connect to this computer remotely. You don’t need to check
          this box to connect to other computers with Remote Desktop.
    8. Click “OK” to close the “System Properties” dialog

    iv. Taskbar and Start Menu Properties

    Adjusting one setting here improves visibility about what’s running on the system in the background.

    1. Right-click the start menu, and select “Properties”
    2. Un-check “Hide inactive icons”
    3. Click “OK”

    c) Remove / disable un-needed components

    comes with a lot of junk by default. Some of this we’ll replace with
    other software later. Some of this comes down to personal preference,
    but other steps you can take will dramatically improve performance with
    little loss.

    1. Click “Start”
    2. Click “Control Panel”
    3. Click “Add or Remove Programs”
    4. Click “Add/Remove Windows Components”, which will open the “Windows Components Wizard”
      • Un-check:
        • “Fax Services”, unless you plan to wire this computer to a phone line to send and receive faxes
        • “MSN Explorer”, even if you have MSN you can connect without MSN Explorer
      • Optionally Un-check:
        • “Indexing
          Service”, the indexing service uses a lot of resources, and doesn’t
          dramatically improve the already bad search included with Windows XP.
          If you’ve ever felt underwhelmed by the Windows XP search, un-check
          this to improve performance of your PC with a slight increase to search
        • “Outlook Express”, but leave this checked
          if you know you need this. Microsoft Outlook (part of the Microsoft
          Office suite) and Mozilla Thunderbird (a free mail and newsgroup client
          from the makers of Firefox) are both superior alternatives to Outlook
          Express. Moreover, if you use a webmail service like Gmail, you may not
          need a mail client at all.
        • “Windows Messenger”,
          but leave this checked if you know you need this. Pidgin, a
          multi-platform messaging client that supports MSN, will be installed
    5. Click “Next”
    6. Click “Finish”

    d) Disable un-needed services

    Windows service is a long-running executable that performs specific
    functions and which is designed not to require user intervention.
    Windows services can be configured to start when the operating system
    is booted and run in the background as long as Windows is running, or
    they can be started manually when required. Some services that are not
    required can be disabled to improve performance.

    1. Right-click “My Computer”
    2. Select “Manage”
    3. In the left column, select “Services and Applications”, and open the “Services” option
      • To disable a service, double-click the service name
      • Select the “Startup Type” drop-down and choose “Disabled”
      • Click “OK” to close the Properties dialog and return to the Services menu
      • Disable the following services:
        • Error
          Reporting Service – since error reporting was disabled in an earlier
          step, there’s no need to launch a service that will sit idle.
        • Help
          and Support – this service is only launched when running “Help and
          Support” from the start menu, so disabling this won’t prevent you from
          accessing built-in help menus and files with other applications.
        • Remote Registry – the description says it all: “enables remote users to modify registry settings on this computer” – no thanks!
        • WebClient
          – this service is only required if you edit files on remote web systems
          via the built-in URL handlers in Windows (e.g., directly editing some
          file on an FTP server). Disabling this service will not prevent you
          from using FTP or other Internet services.
      • Optionally disable the following services:
        • Themes
          – disable this if you selected the Windows Classic theme, in which case
          the themes service is not required. However, leave this enabled to use
          any other visual style.
        • Wireless Zero Configuration – if you don’t have a wireless card, and don’t plan to, disable this service

    Back to top…

    2. Re-install hardware drivers

    Re-installing drivers
    can be challenging if the manufacturer’s support is spotty, or if the
    original driver disks that came with the PC hardware are no longer
    available. This step relies on some prior knowledge of what hardware is
    installed on the PC. If the PC has never been upgraded, the PC
    manufacturer’s web site should have all the necessary drivers and
    updates. Visit the PC manufacturer’s website, and look for links to
    “Support”, “Downloads, or “Drivers”. Since this step is different
    depending on the manufacturer, you may have to look around. Some common
    manufacturer support sites are:

    • Acer – Third largest computer manufacturer in the world.
      • Gateway – Presently a brand name of Acer after being acquired in 2007. Largely known for the cow patterned boxes.
      • eMachines – Presently a brand name of Gateway/Acer after being acquired in 2004.
      • Packard Bell – Acer acquired 75% of its parent company, PB Holdings in 2008.
    • Apple
      – Third largest computer manufacturer in the United States. Desktop,
      notebook, mobile devices. Even though they’re famous for their own
      operating system that competes with Windows, with Boot Camp, Apple PCs
      can run Windows too. This site explains more about loading drivers and
      what not.
    • Asus – Largely known for main-boards and parts, also buildsnotebooks.
    • CyberPower PC – Low-cost high-endgaming PCs.
    • Dell – Second largest computer manufacturer in theworld.
      • Alienware – High-end gaming PCs and laptops. Presently a brand name of Dell after being acquired in 2006.
    • Fujitsu – Largely known for media devicesbut also builds notebooks and servers.
    • Hewlett-Packard -Largest computer manufacturer in the world.
      • Compaq – Budget brand of PCs and laptops. Presently a brand name of Hewlett-Packard after the merger in 2002.
      • VoodooPC – High-end gaming PCs and laptops. Presently a brand name of Hewlett-Packard after being acquired in 2006.
    • Hitachi – Manufactures desktop and laptop computer components
    • Lenovo – Fourth largestcomputer manufacturer in the world. Acquired IBM’s Personal Computing Division in 2005.
      • IBM – PC system manufacturers division was acquired by Lenovo.
    • NEC – Computer division of a largetechnology company, products range from laptops to supercomputers.
    • Panasonic – Primarily known for the Toughbook rugged laptop computer.
    • Samsung Electronics – TheSens line of laptop computers. Is the largest manufacturer of LCD panels worldwide.
    • Sharp – Manufactures a lineof laptop computers.
    • Shuttle – Manufactures small form-factordesktop computers across a range of performance and price.
    • Sony – Manufactures desktops and laptops under the VAIOsub-brand.
    • Sun Microsystems – Primarilymanufactures servers and workstations.
    • Toshiba – Fifth largest computer manufacturer inthe world.

    of the time, Windows XP will successfully detect the ethernet port on
    the machine. Occasionally, the ethernet will require some drivers. If
    this happens, download the drivers on a working PC, transfer them to a
    USB stick, then run the driver installation off the USB stick.

    installing drivers, avoid unnecessary add-ons like “control panels” to
    improve performance. These interfaces are usually unnecessary, but if
    you don’t feel comfortable customizing driver installations, it won’t
    cause any harm. If you can handle it, pay attention when installing any
    drivers and follow “custom” installation to make sure you remove any
    unnecessary add-ons. Stick to just the drivers to avoid unneeded
    startup programs.

    To verify that you’ve installed all the hardware drivers you need:

    1. Right-click “My Computer”
    2. Select “Manage”
    3. In the left column, select “Device Manager”
      • Devices that appear with a yellow question mark icon or a name of “Unknown device” are not recognized
      • Devices highlighted with a yellow exclamation point are recognized, but require additional drivers to function properly
      • Devices
        highlighted with a red ‘x’ are disabled because there is a malfunction
        with the device, the device has been removed, or the device is disabled
    4. If there are any driver issues, correct them before continuing.

    Back to top…

    3. Run Windows Update

    Once all the manufactuer drivers
    are loaded, you should have no problem using all your hardware, and you
    should have full internet connectivity. We will run Windows Update
    manually the first few times, and then re-enable the Automatic Updates
    service to keep the system up-to-date.

    1. Click “Start”
    2. Select “Programs”
    3. Select “Windows Update”
    4. The first time the Windows Update page is loaded, it will prompt to update the Windows Update software
      • Update the Windows Update software
      • Restart the PC when instructed to do so
    5. Load the “Windows Update” page again
    6. Click “Custom” updates to select from optional and high-priority updates
    7. If
      you installed Windows XP without any service packs or updates rolled
      up, you will first be prompted to install Service Pack 2 (SP2)

      • Follow the on-screen directions to install SP2
      • Restart the PC when instructed to do so
      • Return to the Windows Update page
    8. If
      you installed Windows XP without any service packs or updates, or you
      installed Windows XP with service packs or updates released prior to
      Service Pack 3 (SP3), you will be prompted to install SP3.

      • Follow the on-screen directions to install SP3
      • Restart the PC when instructed to do so
      • Return to the Windows Update page
    9. Again click “Custom” updates to select from optional and high-priority updates
    10. Once SP3 is installed, a list of outstanding updates is presented
    11. Leave all the updates selected
    12. Click “Software, Optional”, and check:
      • “Root Certificates Update”, to provide support for the latest SSL Extended Validation (EV) certificates in Internet Explorer 7
      • “Windows Media Player 11” to enjoy the latest features for the perennial favorite media player
      • “Microsoft
        .NET Framework 2.0: x86” this and the .NET Framework below provide full
        features to programs that may be required for software installed later
      • “Microsoft .NET Framework version 1.1”
    13. Click “Hardware, Optional” if there are any number of updates available besides 0.
      • Check
        the available drivers. Occasionally, the Windows Update drivers revert
        the driver to one that was not the most recent, or causes other issues.
        If you’re not experiencing problems, or if you’re sure you have the
        most recent drivers for this device, you can skip this step.
    14. Click “Review and install updates”
    15. Click “Install updates”
    16. Restart the PC when instructed to do so
    17. Again click “Custom” updates to select from optional and high-priority updates
    18. Return to the Windows Update page one last time to ensure there are no more updates
    19. If
      there are any updates, click “Review and install updates”, then
      “Install updates” and repeat the update process again until there are
      no more updates to install.

    If prompted, avoid the “Microsoft Download” agent, which also installs Silverlight. Neither of these programs are widely adopted and they are not


    Back to top…

    4. Re-install user software

    Now that the system has an
    up-to-date operating system with all its drivers installed, it’s time
    to load user software. This list includes some basic applications and
    solutions. There is a free solution for just about any problem out
    there, but occasionally, we recommend some commercial alternatives.

    a) Internet

    this step, Internet Explorer 7 should still be fresh. If you like
    Internet Explorer, more power to you! But we recommend Mozilla Firefox
    because of its open, non-commercial nature.

    1. Load Internet Explorer now.
    2. The first time it runs, it will prompt to customize your settings.
      • Select “Let me select from a list of other search providers”
      • Un-check the “Turn on automatic Phishing Filter”
      • If desired, check “Activate ClearType”
      • Un-check the “Customer Experience Improvement” box
      • Click “Save your settings”
    3. Click on the desired search provider (Google is recommended), then click “Add Provider”
    4. Close and restart Internet Explorer
    5. You will be prompted again to enable the phishing filter; disable the phishing filter and click “OK”


    • Mozilla Firefox 3.0

      Firefox is a free and open source web browser that includes tabbed
      browsing, a spell checker, incremental find, live bookmarking, a
      download manager, and an integrated search system that uses the user’s
      desired search engine.

      1. Run the setup file
      2. Click “Next” to start the setup process
      3. Check the box to accept the free license and click “Next”
      4. Select “Custom” and click “Next”
      5. Leave the default install location and click “Next”
      6. Leave all the boxes checked to create shortcuts to Firefox and click “Next”
      7. Leave the default Start Menu folder name and click “Next”
      8. Click “Install” to begin installing Firefox
      9. Click “Finish” to complete the setup process

      first time Firefox is run, it will prompt you to import bookmarks.
      Select “Don’t import anything” and continue. With Firefox started up,
      it’s time to customize it.

      1. Click “Tools”, and select “Add-ons”
      2. Search for “Adblock Plus”
      3. Click “Add to Firefox…”, then “Install Now”
      4. Repeat the previous step for any of the desired plugins, like some recommended plugins below
      5. Restart Firefox when the desired plugins are installed
      6. The Adblock Plus plugin will prompt to subscribe to a filter list. Select “EasyList (USA)”, and click “Subscribe”
      7. Close the “Add-ons” window
      8. Add search engine plugins from Mycroft.
        The Mycroft project provides a collection of Sherlock & OpenSearch
        Search Engine Plugins (15876 at the last count) for your web browser.
        To add a search engine plugin, simply click the link below and click

      Mozilla Firefox is recommended, and you’ll still have Microsoft Internet Explorer to fall back on, but since the choice of browser comes down to

      personal preference, you also might consider these alternatives:

      • Google Chrome is exciting, but not ready for primetime. It’s still a bit unstable, and doesn’t support Java yet. Give it time.
      • Opera
        is an “internet suite” that supports features that other browsers
        don’t, such as including its own IRC and torrent client. However, it’s
        not widely adopted or supported, but has a cult following.
    • Java Runtime Environment

      Java is a programming language originally developed by Sun Microsystems. Java allows you to play online games, chat with people around the world,

      calculate your mortgage interest, and view images in 3D, just to name a few. It’s also integral to the intranet applications and other e-business solutions

      that are the foundation of corporate computing.

      1. Download the “offline” installation package from the download link
      2. Close any open web browser windows before continuing
      3. Run the setup file
      4. Click “Accept” to accept the free license
      5. Un-check “ Installer”, and click “Next”
      6. Click “Finish” to complete the setup
    • Adobe Flash

      Adobe Flash (previously called Shockwave Flash and Macromedia Flash) is a set of multimedia software created by Macromedia and currently developed

      and distributed by Adobe Systems. Flash is commonly used to create animation, advertisements, and various web page components, to integrate video into web

      pages, and more recently, to develop rich Internet applications.

      • Install Flash in Firefox
        1. Using Firefox, download the setup file from the link above
        2. Run the setup file
        3. When the setup is complete, click “Close”
      • Install Flash in Internet Explorer
        1. Using Internet Explorer, go to the download link, and click “Download”
        2. Un-check the “Free Google Toolbar” option
        3. Click “Agree and install now”
        4. Click
          the area with the text “Click here to install the following ActiveX
          control: ‘Adobe Flash Player Installer’ from ‘Adobe Systems
        5. Click “Install ActiveX Control…” then click “Install” in the pop-up box
        6. When the setup is complete, the Flash demo movie will load, close Internet Explorer
    • µTorrent

      (or uTorrent) is a free BitTorrent client by BitTorrent, Inc. for
      Microsoft Windows. It is designed to use minimal computer resources
      while offering functionality comparable to larger BitTorrent clients
      such as Vuze or BitComet. The program has received consistently good
      reviews for its feature set, performance, stability, and support for
      older hardware and versions of Windows. It has been in active
      development since its first release in 2005.

      1. Run the setup file
      2. Un-check the boxes below, and click “Install”
        • Create Start menu entry
        • Create Quick Launch icon
        • Create Desktop icon
      3. When installation is complete, µTorrent will start for the first time
      4. Click “Yes” to make µTorrent the default torrent application
      5. Accept the default connection settings by clicking “Use Selected Settings”
      6. Click “Options”, and select “Preferences”
      7. In the menu on the left side of the Preferences dialog, click “Queueing”
      8. Check the box “Limit the upload rate to” and set the value to 0
      9. In the menu on the left side of the Preferences dialog, click “UI Settings”
      10. Un-check the box “Close to tray”
      11. Click “OK” to close the Preferences dialog, then close µTorrent


    • LogMeIn


      Free provides remote desktop access with optional remote sound, file
      management, printer access, and online chat features through a web

    • Logmein


      Hamachi is a VPN service that easily sets up in 10 minutes, and enables
      secure remote access to your business network, anywhere there’s an
      Internet connection. It works with your existing firewall, and requires
      no additional configuration. Hamachi is the first networking
      application to deliver an unprecedented level of direct peer-to-peer
      connectivity. It is simple, secure, and cost-effective. Not everyone
      will need a personal VPN, but if you’re a tinkerer, check out this
      free, lightweight VPN solution.

    b) Security


    • AVG Anti-Virus Free


      includes most of the common functions available in modern antivirus
      programs, including periodic scans, the ability to “heal” some
      virus-infected files, and a “virus vault” in which infected files are
      held. While it does not offer the best protection nor performance, it
      does offer the best price, being free.

      href=”″ target=”_blank”>AVG is also recommended by Microsoft as part of the security center in Vista.

      1. Run the setup file
      2. Click “Next” at the splash screen, then “Accept” the free licenses
      3. Select “Custom Installation” and click “Next”
      4. Click “Next” again when prompted for the license key (leave the free default key)
      5. Click “Next” when prompted for the destination folder, then click “Yes” to create the new directory
      6. Uncheck
        “LinkScanner”, “Email Scanner”, and “Office plugin”, then click Next
        (don’t worry, you’ll still be protected by the resident scanner
      7. Review the settings, then click “Finish”
      8. When the installation is complete, click “Next” to launch with the First Run Wizard
      9. Click “Next” to start the wizard
      10. Un-check “enable dailying scanning”, and confirm by clicking “Yes”, then click “Next”
      11. Click “Next” to get the latest updates
      12. When the updates are finished, click “Next”
      13. Skip the registration screen by clicking “Next”
      14. Click “Finish” to complete installation
      15. Daily scanning: your choice, but probably not necessary. Definitely disable on laptops, since it’ll drain the battery.
        • Let it auto update
        • No need to register

      Admitedly, AVG is not the “best” solution, but it is the “best priced” solution, and offers adequate protection. Alternatives to AVG are noted

      below. Although they are commercial software, the developers offer free trials.

      • Kaspersky
      • NOD32
    • PeerGuardian 2

      2 is a free and open source program capable of blocking incoming and
      outgoing connections based on IP blocklists, preventing you from
      connecting to advertising, spyware, and government hosts.

      1. Run the setup file
      2. Click “Next” to begin the setup
      3. Accept the free license and click “Next”
      4. Click “Next” again four (4) times, accepting all the defaults
      5. Click “Install” to begin the installation
      6. Click “Finish” to complete the installation and launch the PeerGuardian Setup Wizard
      7. Click “Next” at the first screen of the wizard
      8. Check the boxes below, leave the rest unchecked, and click “Next”
        • P2P
        • Ads
        • Spyware
        • Government
      9. Click “Next” to accept the default update settings
      10. Click “Finish” to complete the setup wizard and launch PeerGuardian for the first time
      11. PeerGuardian will automatically update its filter lists, when it is done updating, click “Close”, which will launch PeerGuardian
      12. With PeerGuardian loaded to its home screen, first click “Allow HTTP”
      13. Switch to the “Settings” tab
      14. Un-check the box “Blink tray icon” and click “Next”
      15. Check the boxes “Start with Windows” and “Always start hidden”
      16. Close the PeerGuardian window to complete configuration

    c) Media


    • XP Codec Pack

      XP Codec Pack is one of the most completed codec packs which helps you to play all major audio and video formats. Includes Media Player Classic, a

      simple integrated player that plays almost all audio and video files.

      1. Close any open web browser or media player windows
      2. Run the setup file
      3. Select a language (like English) and click “OK”
      4. Click “Next” to begin setup
      5. Click “Next” to accept the default configuration
      6. Click “Next” to accept the default install location
      7. Click “Install” to accept the default start menu folder and begin installing
      8. Click “Finish” to complete the installation


    • iTunes*

      iTunes is a digital media player application used for playing and organizing digital music and video files. The program is also an interface to

      manage the contents on Apple’s popular iPod digital media players as well as the iPhone. *Note: no email address or registration is required to download


      • You can skip this if you have no iPod, but who doesn’t have an iPod?
      • Includes Quicktime
      • If not installing iTunes, install Quicktime Alternative
    • Real Alternative

      Real Alternative is a codec pack created for playing RealMedia files without installing RealPlayer. The pack can be used with any

      DirectShow-enabled media player, such as Media Player Classic.

    • QuickTime Alternative

      QuickTime Alternative is a codec package created by Codec Guide for playing .MOV files, Apple’s proprietary QuickTime format. QuickTime

      Alternative contains less features, but consumes less system resources. QuickTime Alternative can play .MOV files and stream QuickTime media. Also, unlike

      Apple QuickTime, QuickTime Alternative does not run background processes, allowing it to require less system resources to operate.

      • Do not install QuickTime Alternative if you have installed or will install iTunes

    d) Office / Productivity


    • Notepad2

      is an open-source text editor for Microsoft Windows, written based on
      the principle of Microsoft Notepad: small, fast and usable. It features
      syntax highlighting for a number of computer languages (e.g. ASP, C,
      C++, C#, CGI, CSS, HTML, Java, JavaScript, PHP, Python, SQL, VB,
      VBScript, XHTML and XML) and file formats (e.g. BAT, DIFF, INF, INI,
      and REG). Notepad2 also has several other features like auto
      indentation, bracket matching, and encoding conversion between ASCII,
      UTF-8 and UTF-16 formats. In short, it’s what Notepad wishes it was.

      1. Open the ZIP file containing the program
      2. Extract the files to C:\WINDOWS\, and “show extracted files” (or go to the C:\WINDOWS\ folder)
      3. Locate Notepad2, then right click the Notepad2 text file
      4. Select “Open With”, then select “Choose Program…”
      5. In the filename box, enter “C:\WINDOWS\Notepad2.exe” and click “Open”
      6. Check “Always use the selected program to open this kind of file” and click “OK”
    • Foxit PDF


      Foxit Reader is a free, basic PDF reader. Foxit Reader is notable for its short load time and small filesize, which are often very favorable when

      compared to Adobe Reader. It is supported by advertising, but it is extremely unintrusive (arguably less intrusive than offers presented in Adobe


      1. Close any open web browser windows
      2. Run the setup file
      3. Click “Next” to begin setup
      4. Click “Next” after admiring the list of new features
      5. Click “I agree” to accept the free license
      6. Click “Custom” installation
      7. Click “Next” to accept the default install location
      8. Un-check the items below, then click “Next”
        • Add a desktop shortcut
        • Add an icon to the Start Menu
        • Add an icon to the Windows Quick Launch Toolbar
      9. Click “Install” to begin the installation
      10. Click “Finish”, and close Foxit Reader


    • Microsoft Office

      Not recommended. While Microsoft Office has traditionally been popular, the free solutions noted below are compatible with the Microsoft Office file formats and offer similar user interfaces at no cost. We can’t link you to download it since it costs up to hundreds of bucks to install!

    • is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It stores files in an international open standard format by default and can also read and write files from other common office software packages. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.

    • Google Docs

      Unlike most of the other software recommended here, Google Docs requires no software installed on your PC besides a web browser. Google Docs allows you to create basic documents, spreadsheets, and presentations online. Accepts most popular file formats, including DOC, XLS, ODT, ODS, RTF, CSV, PPT, etc., and uses a familiar interface to make editing easy. Google Docs is enhanced further by Google Gears, which enables more powerful web applications by adding new features to your web browser, such as offline interaction with web apps like Google Docs.

    • Mozilla Thunderbird

      Mozilla Thunderbird is a free, open source, cross-platform e-mail and news client, comparable to Outlook Express.

    e) Messaging / Communication


    • Pidgin

      Pidgin is a multi-platform instant messaging client that supports many commonly used instant messaging protocols, allowing the user to log into various different services from one application.

      1. Run the setup file
      2. Select a language (like the default, “English”), then click “OK”
      3. Click “Next” to start the setup
      4. Click “Next” to accept the free license
      5. Click “Next” to accept the default settings
      6. Click “Next” to install GTK+ in the default location
      7. Click “Install”, accepting the default install location
      8. When the installation is complete, click “Next”, then “Finish” to complete the setup


    • Skype

      Skype is a program that allows users to make telephone calls over the Internet. Calls to other users of the service and to toll-free numbers are free, while calls to other landlines and mobile phones can be made for a fee. Unlimited subscriptions are available. The features and prices make Skype competitively priced as a telephony solution. You can even run Skype on a PSP!

    z) Advanced Utilities


    • PuTTY: A Free Telnet/SSH Client

      PuTTY is a free implementation of Telnet and SSH for Win32 and Unix platforms, along with an xterm terminal emulator. No installation is required! Just download the program and run the executable.

    Back to top…

    5. Configure user software

    Windows Media Player

    The first time you launch Windows Media Player, you’ll be prompted to configure some options, and you’ll want to manually configure some others.

    1. Launch Windows Media Player
    2. Click “Validate” to validate your copy of Windows and continue
    3. Click “I accept” to accept the license and continue
    4. Select “Custom Settings” and click “Next”
    5. Un-check *all* the options on the “Select Privacy Options” page, including those selected by default (below), then click “Next”
      • Display media information from the internet
      • Update music files by retrieving the media information from the Internet
      • Download usage rights automatically when I play a file
      • Save file and URL history in the Player
    6. Click “Next” to accept the default shortcut locations
    7. Select “Don’t set up a store now” and click “Next”
    8. Un-check *all* the file types on the “Select the Default Music and Video Player” screen, then click “Finish” to complete the wizard
    9. Right-click the text “Windows Media Player” in the upper-left corner of the program window, and select “Show Classic Menus”
    10. Click “Tools” and select “Options”
    11. On the “Rip Music” tab, click the “Format” drop-down, and select “MP3”
    12. Drag the “audio quality” slider to the right to at least “192 Kbps”
    13. On the “File Types” tab, un-check *all* the file types in the list, and click “OK”

    Media Player Classic

    Media Player Classic will play just about any video or audio file you can find, provided you have the codec (which you likely will, if you have XP Codec Pack installed). Make Media Player Classic the preferred media player with the steps below.

    1. Launch Media Player Classic (Start, Programs, XP Codec Pack)
    2. Click “View”, and select “Options”
    3. In the left menu, select “Formats”
    4. Click “All”, then click “OK”


    Add your messaging accounts to Pidgin, and start chatting with buddies.

    1. Launch Pidgin
    2. The “Accounts” menu will appear, click “Add” to add an account
    3. Select a protocol, enter the username and password for your account, and click “Save”
    4. You can return to the Accounts menu and add more accounts if you wish (you also use the Accounts menu to sign on and sign off)
    5. Close the Accounts menu when done adding accounts

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    6. Test configuration

    Congratulations! You’ve reached the end. From here, you’re pretty much on your own! You might want to make sure everything you need is working. Try some common tasks below.

    I don’t answer questions about this script directly, but I do install and support this configuration for my customers!

    • Watch a video on Youtube
    • Connect and use a device like…
      • USB memory stick
      • Apple iPod or mp3 player
      • Digital camera
      • Mobile phone
      • PocketPC / Palm device
    • Connect a USB printer, and print a test page

    Back to top…

    Posted by peter @ 7:13 pm

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