Win XP Home Edition and the PC Enthusiast

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What you’ll go through if you upgrade. – John R. Abaray

I’ve had some time to kill, so I thought I would get XP and play with it for a few days. I’ve been using Win 98SE for articles because the average user isn’t going to spend, or doesn’t have, the money for Win 2K. Now we have XP – some users will be upgrading and some will be starting with it, so it’s time to start using both for articles.

The first thing I did was cut my finger on the damn plastic container – I wound up using a screwdriver to open it. The next thing I noticed was the manual doesn’t exactly tell you how to do a clean install. I thought I would play dummy and see what would happen if I tried to install it from a 98 boot disk. I put it in the CD ROM and got the message “cannot be installed in DOS mode”.

I have the 3rd boot in BIOS set to CD ROM. I changed it to first boot and it booted to XP setup. It started to install and when it came time to reboot, it started to loop and went back to the initial setup. There is no way to escape once it starts, so I just let it do its thing.

When it came to reboot time, I disabled CD boot in BIOS and then it continued to install. Pay attention because if you’re not watching, it gets boring watching the loop.

I tried install a couple of different ways and there is one chance to exit and that’s it. I guess I could have crashed the machine to get out, but sometimes that’s not a good idea.

When installing from CD boot, I took the one chance to exit and then booted into WIN 98SE. I then tried to upgrade from WIN 98SE. I got the message “this CD is for upgrade only” along with missing required W95upg.dll. When I booted from the CD, it qualified when I put in the 98SE disk. I gotta wonder whathehell the beta testers were testing. I had no problem screwing things up.

At this time, I decided to start typing before I forgot all the details. I tried to do a format with and started all over again to see what would happen. It didn’t work – I got the missing parameter message. I tried to use the Maxtor software to format and found out NO GO if I installed NTFS.

The program would just crash if I tried to format it back to FAT32, so I went back to XP setup. You can use XP setup if you want to format back to FAT32. You really have no choice??

I also had a problem when I exited setup and tried to boot back into WIN 98SE – I had to go back to the setup disk again. You’re following all this, right?? If all you’re going to do is an upgrade, you should be alright – I really didn’t encounter problems with the upgrade.

You may have some problems with some of your software. It wouldn’t install the dialer software from my ISP if I did a clean install. It didn’t like one of my browsers either. Interesting part is if I did an upgrade, the dialer and the browser would be there.

Even then, it didn’t want to use it, but I would click “use” anyway. I was surprised I even got a choice. Could this be deliberate to make you use IE?? Of course not, we know MS has been above board in all their dealings.

Every time it would screwup, it wanted to send a report back, but I just keep clicking no.

There were a few things I wanted to try to see what would happen. There was a thread in a forum about someone having to reactivate after flashing a new BIOS. I flashed BIOS several times to a different BIOS each time, no problem.

I changed video cards several times and no problems. The same with hard drives. I did a reinstall over the one on the hard drive and no problem. I changed the drive from NTFS back to FAT32 and had to reactivate. I stuck the drive in another board and had to reactivate.

A few words about reactivation:

The first time I tried, the board rebooted and I got a message the video card caused the problem. On the second try it activated. One time it took me four tries before it took. It was a definite PITA. I installed it on two machines and used them both on the internet.

One was activated, the other wasn’t. It took a day, but it did catch up with me. The one that wasn’t activated wouldn’t let me in when I booted. It just said I have to activate.

There are some annoying popups from the tray for various things, like nagging you to update. Another tells you when you connect to the internet, what speed – like I don’t know. You can either click them, shut or ignore them and they go away eventually.

It is aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. Comparing one OS to the other, I find XP is slow compared to the lighting bolt response of my tweaked & trimmed down WIN 98SE (1.2 GHz CPU & 384 MB RAM).

Last Words

When I was surfing around one day, I came across an article titled “So You Want To Be A Hacker”.

In the article, the author talked about the excellent job opportunities for a talented Hacker with large companies. He went on to say how some would buy ten copies of software and put it on two hundred machines. MS even said before the release of XP they knew there would be cracks, so who are they really after??

The fall guy here, as I see it, is Joe Average.

The guy with a wife, two kids and three computers. He’s the one who will be buying the extra copies sooner or later, whether he likes it or not.

I guess XP would be OK for someone who is just going to build one machine. I have the same complaint about XP that I have about any Windows OS. I get stuff I don’t want, don’t need and will never use. Just a POS cluttering up my hard drive and slowing my machine down.

XP is by far the worst. There is no real custom install. There is only add on. It’s a take it or leave it deal.

At any one time, I might have an OS on four or five hard drives. Some may sit in a corner for a month or two until I get the idea to try something new. I’m always trying different combinations of hardware and CPUs. You can see the potential problems.

If you have any questions about XP, don’t ask me because I don’t know – I might in another six months. This is just a little primer, a very miniscule primer. It’s not going to get better, it’s just going to get worse.

Some of you probably know there is an OS in the works called Lindows, but its future is uncertain. If you have a God, you pray to start, pray for a new OS that will run Windows programs.

Readers Responses to this article on page 2…


I do not work for anyone or get paid for anything I write. Everything I write about I pay for out of my own pocket. Everything I write in articles or say in emails is Public Domain for the reader to do with as they wish.

John R. Abaray

As Ed Stroligo pointed out not to long ago, if you’re going to write articles, you’re inviting criticism. It brings to mind an old cliche “If you’re going to put on a show, be prepared not only for the applause but the boos”. While I always get a response to my articles, every now and then I get a big response. This was one of them.

In any big response there’s usually a couple of negatives. They apparently missed the point of the article. I deliberately did various things to see what would happen and reported the results.

Negatives occasionally do serve a purpose. I’m never really happy with what I write. Usually after I send Joe an article, I find myself thinking “I forgot this” or “I should have pointed out that”. The following negative is one of them serving a purpose – I also included a couple of other comments I received.

There are no names for obvious reasons except for tip credits.

Jxx Sxxxxxxxx – Cxxxxxxxxxx Mxxxxxx wrote:

Mr. Abaray,

I have no idea how you had so many problems with Windows XP. I was
leery the first time I installed XP, knowing from past experiences that
upgrading usually means doing a fresh install, so I tested with my
wife’s computer first. The upgrade went smoothly. Simply the easiest
upgrade I have ever done of an OS. Any monkey could have done it, and
everything worked fine afterwards. No problems what so ever.

a little more confidence in the OS, I decided to upgrade my main
computer to XP…however, there was one program that I use (a DOS based
program) that is known not to work in XP or 2000. For that reason, I
decided on a multi-boot setup. I installed XP on my D drive, while ME
remained on my C drive.

The installation, once again, went smooth as
silk. Simply painless. I have been up and running on XP for about 3
months now, and I have crashed to the point of lockup only ONE TIME (it
was a semi-daily thing with ME). Since my first installation, I have
discovered a work around (VDMS) for my DOS program, and have not loaded
up Windows ME once in over a months and a half.

My minor problem now
is, how in the hell do I get rid of Windows ME, move Windows XP over
to the C drive and then upgrade to NTFS from FAT-32 (which I retained
for compatibility purposes).

I think you did XP a disservice with your article. You did not mention
even ONCE the fact that XP is many many many times more stable than ANY
Window 9x based OS. You mention that somehow XP is slower than 9x?!?
I am confused because both machines that I upgraded I notice a marked
speed improvement. You also mention that there are few customization
options?!? I EASILY customized XP to look identical to my 9x OS.
Hell, XP seems to be quite a bit MORE customizable than any 9x OS.

I rarely take time to write about articles I disagree with, but I felt
that your article about XP was quite one sided and while it was quick to
point out the problems encountered, it neglected to point out the
positives of the OS.

Jxx Sxxxxxxx

My response to Mr. Sxxxxxxxx:

“Are we on the same page??

I did say this:

“If all you’re going to do is an upgrade, you should be alright – I really didn’t encounter problems with the upgrade.”

And I did say this:

“It is aesthetically pleasing and easy to use.”

Do you know what a clean install is? It’s what most PC Enthusiasts prefer. I tried various things to see what would happen and accurately reported them.

Here are some of the comments I received:

I read your article at Overclockers on installing XP. I ran into similar problems and eventually ended up installing to a clean drive and copying my files I needed.

And another:

I had the exact same XPerience loading XP Pro. Wonder if some of the OEM’s will be getting service calls after their L-users screw their bios settings.

Here’s a comment on speed:

Well I could have told you that myself I had XP on for a day that was about it went back to Win98se very
quickly games in windows ran slow and paused during playback.

On your problem installing on D: from C: I hate to tell you, you’re screwed. You have files that are cross linked and there is no way I know of around that. You will have to format and do a clean install, booting from the CD. Save your ME apps and files to another drive, then reinstall the ME apps and then transfer your files.

You will also have to reactivate, which may require a phone call to MS, and give them the fifty digit number you get if you get the “You have exceed the allowable number of activations” message. They will then give you another fifty digit number to type in the blocks which you will get on your screen.

If you get the message “This is an invalid number” just click the OK in the box, delete all the numbers and they will give you another fifty digit number to type in. The second number usually takes. Nothing could be simpler or easier??

The MS Rep told me you can only activate once before you have to call. I did it three times before it caught up with me. Strange?

Perhaps you should read the article again. Many thanks for your comments.

Best – Default/John R. Abaray.”

On the positive side I get some great tips and suggestions. I would be remiss if I didn’t pass this one on. A well deserved credit to Nlcheney1 for this one:

Hi John, you’ve probably already heard this a million times after posting your XP thrills page on Overclockers, but here goes.

You can fresh install XP easily by booting with your 98se floppy, choosing CD ROM support from the appearing menu. Have a copy of smartdrv.exe on this floppy and run it after you’ve booted up. You don’t need to give it any parameters. Then in your i386 folder on the XP install CD, you’ll find the program winnt.exe. Run it to do a fresh install.

You’ve already discovered that if you set a drive up
as ntfs, you can’t go back to fat32 any way except with the program provided in the XP operating system. Fdisk doesn’t have a clue! LOL That’s the way I remember it, but I’m old and it’s been a couple months since I last did it. Thanks for your article, it was entertaining! 🙂

While I didn’t hear it a million times, there were others who also sent it in and I would also like to thank them again.

Credit to Leadfoot for sending this one in. If you’re adventurous and don’t mind taking a risk, you can go

There were those who sent me lengthy e-mails sharing their experience and frustrations. I read every word and would like to thank them again for their time and effort.

Last Words

I would also be remiss if I didn’t comment about the Microsoft Reps. They were very polite, patient, and understanding. When I told one I was a PC Enthusiast, he said he understood and that was OK. I can just imagine the hostility some of them get. I couldn’t do their job by any stretch of my imagination. I would be in a rubber room by the end of the day bouncing off the walls.

Overclockers has a great group of readers and forum members. They’ve sent many great tips and suggestions in response to my articles. Thanks to all for sending them in.

Lets see – did I forget to thank anyone? Oh yes, there were the anonymous e-mails like “[email protected]” with links to cracks. Thanks Guys, but I’ve got too high a profile to use them. I did a thirtyfive pass Gutmann overwrite followed by a seven pass invert with Scorch. No one’s going to get those off my HD except for maybe the agency boys.

I leave you with one last cliche:

“Everyone in this world has a purpose. Even if their purpose is to be a bad example”.


I do not work for anyone or get paid for anything I write. Everything I write about I pay for out of my own pocket. Everything I write in articles or say in emails is Public Domain for the reader to do with as they wish.

John R. Abaray


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