Saturday, July 30, 2005


July 2005 will long be remembered for the knock-down, drag-out fight between me and WindowsXP. I had purchased an XP installation disk with the intention of removing my five-year-old WindowsME operating system, wiping my hard-drive clean and rejuvenating my computer with 21st century technology. If I'd know how tough my opponent was going to be I'd have hired a manager and gone into training early.

Round 1- My system wouldn't boot from the XP disk. I didn't know if that was because the disk I had was a Reinstallation CD rather than the new install I thought it was or if the boot sequence I set in my BIOS was wrong (ATAPI CDROM, IDE-HDD, Floppy, ARMD-FDD, ARMD-HDD). I ended up booting to Windows, installing XP from there, and selecting the NTFS format. This, of course, did not wipe my hard-drive as I had intended.
Me-0 XP-1

Round 2- I managed to get my cable modem and network router installed and running. I loaded MS Works and downloaded and installed AVG Antivirus. Each time I rebooted I had time to go into the kitchen, fix a ham and cheese sandwich and grab a cold soda while that ugly blue-on-black Dell splash screen, the "Windows is starting" screen and the Welcome screen each sat on my monitor for long, interminable minutes.
Me-1 XP-1

Round 3- My Taskbar (and Start button) disappeared. It wasn't hiding beyond the borders of my screen; it just vanished. Ctrl-Esc could not retrieve it. It appeared when I booted to Safe Mode, but not otherwise. A Microsoft Knowledge Base article suggested the problem might be the result of a faulty driver and instructed me on "How to perform a clean boot in XP" in order to locate the recalcitrant file. After several tries and lengthy reboots I finally got my Taskbar back.
Me-2 XP-1

Round 4- While attempting to load my printer software, my CD-R and DVD drives disappeared. In My Computer and Windows Explorer, F: and E: drives were no longer residents. At that point I succumbed to frustration and, knowing I couldn't afford to buy a new computer were I to vent my emotions on this one, I shut everything down. I was floored but not out.
Me-2 XP-2

Round 5- Slightly refreshed, if not confident, I returned to the scene of the XP debacle. Since I had already done a virus scan, I downloaded SpyBot Search & Destroy and ran a spyware scan. I cleaned out the dozen or so miscreants unearthed, r- e- b- o- o- t- e- d, and checked My Computer to find my missing drives had returned (I didn't check for them when I first logged in so I don't know if they were back before the spyware scan). On a subsequent reboot, I was greeted with a log-in screen which read: "To begin, click user name". I looked everywhere but under the monitor and there was no user name to click. After puzzling for a few minutes I resorted to my old standby: Ctrl-Alt-Del. This brought up a log-in window with my name and a request for a password. I had never established a log-in password so I clicked OK and it let me in.
Me-3 XP-2

Round 6- My minimized windows were sitting atop the Taskbar instead of on it. I accessed the Taskbars properties and affirmed the settings were correct. Most peculiar. When the computer booted it displayed the "found new hardware" alert for my printer, but when I inserted the printer disk, a window popped up, informing me I needed to check for compatibility with XP. My Epson is five years old, so I visited the Epson website and downloaded and installed drivers for XP. I went to Printers and Faxes in the Control Panel and selected Add Printer. An alert said a printer could not be added as the "printer spool service" wasn't running. After a bit of Googling, I found some information concerning the printer spool service so I went to Run, typed in "service.msc", found Print Spooler/ Properties/ Automatic/ Start. That sequence was supposed to activate the printer spool service but my printer stubbornly refused to work.
Me-3 XP-3

Round 7- Let's see; at that point I had no printer function (I was afraid to even try to install my scanner), Search wasn't working (I clicked it and clicked it, nothing happened) and the Taskbar was back to playing hide-and-seek; my minimized windows were sitting at the bottom of the screen like so many birds on a wire, so I had to minimize all open windows in order to open another. I decided to take my black-eye, fractured ribs and bruised ego, throw in the towel and return to WinME.

Footnote: I did eventually get XP properly installed, after considerable research. Hey, I never claimed to be a computer guru.