Learn Windows XP Professional in 15 Minutes a Week: Introduction to Series

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by Jason Zandri

We're proud to debut our new Learn Windows XP Professional in 15 Minutes a Week series by feature writer Jason Zandri. The series will cover the skills needed to successfully administer Windows XP Professional and will also focus on helping you prepare for the Microsoft 70-270 exam.

Welcome to Learn Windows XP Professional in 15 Minutes a Week, a weekly series aimed at current IT professionals preparing to write the new Windows XP Professional exam, as well as newcomers to the field who are trying to get a solid grasp on this new and emerging desktop operating system.

The idea behind this series is to give an overview (and sometimes detailed view) of different topics and assist in learning the material associated with the new Microsoft Certified Professional exam 70-270, Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft Windows XP Professional.

I am both a Microsoft Certified Trainer (part-time) and a Web Hosting Systems Administrator (full-time), so I know just how difficult it is to stay on the edge of emerging technology and get some sleep from time to time as well. I am hoping this series of articles will help you to have a healthy balance of both work and play, regardless of the fact that you may well need 36 hours in a day to do so.

When you pass the Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft Windows XP Professional exam 70-270, you achieve Microsoft Certified Professional status. You also earn credit toward the following certifications:

The Windows XP Professional certification exam (70-270) measures your ability to implement, administer, and troubleshoot information systems that incorporate Microsoft Windows XP Professional. This series of articles will touch upon most of the required subject areas of the Windows XP Professional operating system itself, as well as its administration and upkeep. In addition to your hands-on experience working with the product, you should consider reviewing other sources of information on Windows XP Professional, such as books from Microsoft Press as well as practice tests offered by Practice Test Providers like Boson Software, in order to receive feedback on your level of knowledge and exam-readiness prior to taking a certification exam.

Scores on a practice test doesn't necessarily indicate what your score will be on a certification exam, nor do they show you will pass your exam at an official test center, but a practice test will give you the opportunity to answer questions that are similar to those on the certification exam and can help you identify your areas of greatest strength and weakness.

While I am not 100% sure of my entire weekly format, I will be trying to put out the articles with some degree of similarity to the skills that are required knowledge for the exam, which are as follows:

Installing Windows XP Professional

  • Perform an attended installation of Windows XP Professional
  • Perform an unattended installation of Windows XP Professional
  • Install Windows XP Professional by using Remote Installation Services (RIS)
  • Install Windows XP Professional by using the System Preparation Tool
  • Create unattended answer files by using Setup
  • Upgrade from a previous version of Windows to Windows XP Professional
  • Prepare a computer to meet upgrade requirements
  • Migrate existing user environments to a new installation
  • Perform post-installation updates and product activation
  • Troubleshoot failed installations

Implementing and Conducting Administration of Resources

  • Monitor, manage, and troubleshoot access to files and folders
  • Configure, manage, and troubleshoot file compression
  • Control access to files and folders by using permissions
  • Optimize access to files and folders
  • Manage and troubleshoot access to shared folders
  • Create and remove shared folders
  • Control access to shared folders by using permissions
  • Manage and troubleshoot Web server resources
  • Connect to local and network print devices
  • Manage printers and print jobs
  • Control access to printers by using permissions
  • Connect to an Internet printer
  • Connect to a local print device
  • Configure and manage file systems
  • Convert from one file system to another file system
  • Configure NTFS, FAT32, or FAT file systems
  • Manage and troubleshoot access to and synchronization of offline files
  • Configure and troubleshoot fax support

Implementing, Managing, Monitoring, and Troubleshooting Hardware Devices and Drivers

  • Implement, manage, and troubleshoot disk devices
  • Install, configure, and manage DVD and CD-ROM devices
  • Monitor and configure disks
  • Monitor, configure, and troubleshoot volumes
  • Monitor and configure removable media, such as tape devices
  • Implement, manage, and troubleshoot display devices
  • Configure multiple-display support
  • Install, configure, and troubleshoot a video adapter
  • Configure Advanced Configuration Power Interface (ACPI)
  • Implement, manage, and troubleshoot input and output (I/O) devices
  • Monitor, configure, and troubleshoot I/O devices, such as printers, scanners, multimedia devices, mouse, keyboard, and smart card reader
  • Monitor, configure, and troubleshoot multimedia hardware, such as cameras
  • Install, configure, and manage modems
  • Install, configure, and manage Infrared Data Association (IrDA) devices
  • Install, configure, and manage wireless devices
  • Install, configure, and manage USB devices
  • Install, configure, and manage hand held devices
  • Manage and troubleshoot drivers and driver signing
  • Monitor and configure multiprocessor computers

Monitoring and Optimizing System Performance and Reliability

  • Monitor, optimize, and troubleshoot performance of the Windows XP Professional desktop
  • Optimize and troubleshoot memory performance
  • Optimize and troubleshoot processor utilization
  • Optimize and troubleshoot disk performance
  • Optimize and troubleshoot application performance
  • Configure, manage, and troubleshoot Scheduled Tasks
  • Manage, monitor, and optimize system performance for mobile users
  • Restore and back up the operating system, system state data, and user data
  • Recover system state data and user data by using Windows Backup
  • Troubleshoot system restoration by starting in safe mode
  • Recover system state data and user data by using the Recovery Console

Configuring and Troubleshooting the Desktop Environment

  • Configure and manage user profiles
  • Configure support for multiple languages or multiple locations
  • Enable multiple-language support
  • Configure multiple-language support for users
  • Configure local settings
  • Configure Windows XP Professional for multiple locations
  • Manage applications by using Windows Installer packages
  • Configure and troubleshoot desktop settings
  • Configure and troubleshoot accessibility services

Implementing, Managing, and Troubleshooting Network Protocols and Services

  • Configure and troubleshoot the TCP/IP protocol
  • Connect to computers by using dial-up networking
  • Connect to computers by using a virtual private network (VPN) connection
  • Create a dial-up connection to connect to a remote access server
  • Connect to the Internet by using dial-up networking
  • Configure and troubleshoot Internet Connection Sharing
  • Connect to resources using Internet Explorer
  • Configure, manage, and implement Internet Information Services (IIS)
  • Configure, manage, and troubleshoot remote desktop and remote assistance
  • Configure, manage, and troubleshoot an Internet connection firewall

Configuring, Managing, and Troubleshooting Security

  • Configure, manage, and troubleshoot Encrypting File System (EFS)
  • Configure, manage, and troubleshoot local security policy
  • Configure, manage, and troubleshoot local user and group accounts
  • Configure, manage, and troubleshoot auditing
  • Configure, manage, and troubleshoot account settings
  • Configure, manage, and troubleshoot account policy
  • Configure and troubleshoot local users and groups
  • Configure, manage, and troubleshoot user and group rights
  • Troubleshoot cache credentials
  • Configure, manage, and troubleshoot a security configuration
  • Configure, manage, and troubleshoot Internet Explorer security settings

To close out this introductory article, I thought I would mention the minimum supported hardware requirements and the direct upgrade paths that are supported by Microsoft for Windows XP Professional.

Minimum Hardware Requirements

Before you begin any installation of Windows XP Professional you should: (where applicable)

  • Make sure your hardware components meet the minimum requirements
  • Verify compatible hardware and software, and obtain any required upgrade packs and new drivers
  • Obtain network information
  • Back up any data on the current system
  • Identify and plan for any advanced setup options you might require

Below are the current minimum hardware requirements for Windows XP Professional at the time of this writing:

  • 300MHZ or higher processor clock speed recommended (233 MHz minimum required, can be single or dual processor system) Intel Pentium/Celeron family, or AMD K6/Athlon/Duron family, or compatible processor recommended
  • 128MB of RAM or higher recommended (64MB minimum supported; may limit performance and some features)
  • 1.5GB of available hard disk space
  • Super VGA (800 W 600) or higher-resolution video adapter and monitor
  • CD-ROM or DVD drive
  • Keyboard and Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device

Up to date and revised requirements can be found on the Microsoft website for Windows XP Professional. Windows XP Professional also supports Symmetric Multi-processing with a maximum of two processors, and up to 4 GB of RAM

There are additional, optional features that will require other hardware and software minimums on the Windows XP Professional system.

  • Internet access

Some Internet functionality may require Internet access, or a Microsoft .NET Passport account. 14.4 Kbps or higher-speed modem is required.

  • Networking

A Network adapter appropriate for the type of network you wish to connect to and access to the appropriate network infrastructure and / or software may be required

  • Instant messaging, voice and videoconferencing, and application sharing using Microsoft conferencing, all parties will need

Microsoft .NET Passport account and Internet access or Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server / Conferencing Server instant messaging account and network access

For voice and videoconferencing;

33.6 Kbps or higher-speed modem, or other network connection

Microphone and sound card with speakers or headset

For videoconferencing;

Video conferencing camera

Windows XP Professional

For application sharing;

33.6 Kbps or higher-speed modem, or other network connection

Windows XP Professional

  • Remote assistance

Both parties must be running Windows XP and be connected by a network

  • Remote desktop

A Windows 95 or laterbased computer, and the two machines must be connected by a network

  • Sound

Sound card and speakers or headphones

  • DVD / Video playback

DVD drive and DVD decoder card or DVD decoder software 8 MB of video RAM

  • Windows Movie Maker:

Video capture feature requires appropriate digital or analog video capture device 400 MHz or higher processor for digital video camera capture

Actual requirements will vary based on your system configuration and the applications and features you choose to install. Additional available hard-disk space may be required if you are installing over a network.

The Windows XP Setup Wizard automatically checks your hardware and software and will report any potential conflicts. You should determine whether your computer hardware is compatible with Windows XP Professional before you start any Windows OS installation.

You can view the current Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) at the Microsoft website.

Windows XP Professional supports only the devices listed in the HCL. If your hardware isn't listed, contact the hardware manufacturer and request a Windows XP Professional driver for the component. To ensure that programs using 16-bit drivers function properly afterwards, request 32-bit drivers from the software vendor.

Support means that while the operating system may load and run on unsupported hardware and software, any issues that come up with the system will not be covered (i.e. supported) by Microsoft Technical Support.

(During an OS upgrade on a system with pre-installed software, you can use upgrade packs to make the existing software compatible with Windows XP Professional. Upgrade packs are available from the appropriate software manufacturers.)

Windows XP Supported Upgrade Paths

The following direct upgrade paths are supported by Microsoft and are considered viable for both the Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home operating systems.

Currently, there are no supported direct upgrade paths for the following Microsoft operating systems:

Microsoft Windows 3.x
Microsoft Windows NT 3.51 Workstation
Microsoft Windows NT 3.51 Server
Microsoft Windows NT 3.51 Server with Citrix
Microsoft Windows 95
Microsoft BackOffice Small Business Server

The following are supported, direct upgrade paths for Microsoft operating systems to Windows XP:

Microsoft Windows 98
Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition
Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition

Windows XP Home Edition Retail (Full) Version
Windows XP Home Edition Upgrade Version
Windows XP Professional Retail (Full) Version
Windows XP Professional Upgrade Version

Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 Workstation

Windows XP Professional Retail (Full) Version
Windows XP Professional Upgrade Version

Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional

Windows XP Professional Retail (Full) Version
Windows XP Professional Upgrade Version

Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition

Windows XP Professional Retail (Full) Version
Windows XP Professional Upgrade Version

All Versions of Windows NT 4.0 require Service Pack 5 to be installed prior to upgrading to Windows XP.

Well, that wraps up my introductory article for the series. I hope you found it informative and will return for the next regular weekly installment. If you have any questions, comments or even constructive criticism, please feel free to drop me a note. I want to write good, solid technical articles that appeal to a large range of readers and skill levels and I can only be sure of that through your feedback.

Next week, I plan to write a detailed column on how to perform an attended installation of Windows XP Professional.

Until then, remember,

"If a bad guy can convince you to run unknown software on your system, it may not be your system anymore"

Jason Zandri

This article was originally published on Mar 26, 2002
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