An Operating System (OS) dictates how all the parts (software and hardware resources) of your computer work together and how specific tasks (i.e., displaying and saving information) are to be performed.
Windows XP is built primarily on Windows 2000 technology which includes the best attributes of previous Windows versions. People who already know and have used previous versions of Windows should have no problems using Windows XP. One major difference will be in the logging in and logging out procedures. Windows XP offers several benefits over other versions, namely, its built-in file encryption and password control capabilities provide basic data and access security, increased reliability and performance ability, friendly graphical user interface (GUI), and its Web communication features. Windows XP's desktop is graphical which allows the user to click on pictures (or icons) to launch applications, open files and folders, connect to a network, and perform many other functions.
Users should find that Windows XP is more efficient and customizable than previous versions and other platforms. The Start button on the bottom left corner of the screen allows easy access to just about everything in the system. The Start button is used to initiate applications, opens or search for documents, adjusts settings, activates the Help Support system, manages files, and maintains the entire system to meet your specific needs.
The taskbar acts as a "home base" and has three elements: the Start button, a bar across the bottom of the screen that lines up opened (active) applications side-by-side, and the system tray located on the bottom right corner where the clock and other system icons may appear. The taskbar is an efficient tool of keeping track of what applications are active, and allows for switching between applications.
The most common pointing device is called a mouse. Clicking the right mouse button initiates a shortcut menu that contain options that include opening programs, setting an item's properties, deleting, pasting, renaming, moving, or copying files or text, and many more functions. However, the left mouse button is most used and is referred to as the primary mouse button.
Getting Started with Windows XP
Why do I have to press Ctrl + Alt + Delete to start Windows XP in a network environment?
Typically, the keyboard key combination of Ctrl, Alt, and Delete is known as a last resort action that a user takes when their system freezes up. This is the main reason a Windows XP session begins with the keys Ctrl, Alt, and Delete. In the past, hackers have used fake login dialog boxes to access user passwords. By pressing these keys, you clear the computer's memory of any programs that should not be there, thereby guaranteeing that the dialog box you see is the official Windows XP login box.
To login to Windows XP, you need to first obtain a CSUN Campus account (username and password are provided). If the computer is logged off properly you will be presented with the Welcome screen. Follow the instructions on the screen to get to the login dialog box. You will need to press the Ctrl, Alt and Delete buttons on the keyboard to accomplish this. In the login dialog box type your username and password. The Windows XP desktop should appear momentarily with several icons.
Log out of Windows XP
You should always logoff the computer to protect your work. Click the Start button, and then the Log off command button. In the dialog box, click the option Log off. This will log you off, but leave the computer on for the next student (don’t click the “Turn off computer” command button unless you need to reboot the system).
Help in Windows XP
Windows XP comes with an online help system that can answer questions about the OS and help you solve just about any problem you experience. Click the Start button then choose “Help and Support” from the Start menu to open the help system. By default, the Help window stays on top of most all other windows toolbar that you’ve opened.
As stated earlier, Windows XP's main screen is called the "desktop". If you double-click on one of the icons on the desktop, a "window" will open. A window is a rectangular area where applications run and messages appear. Multiple windows can be open at the same time, each running a different application or completing a different task (called multitasking). A window can be either opened or closed. A closed window appears as an icon. An open window appears as a window or a button on the taskbar. If more than one window is open, they can overlap and hide other windows from view. Right-clicking an open area on the taskbar can rectify this. A shortcut menu will allow you to make some window arrangements.
The Start button is the first button you select in order to access additional items contained in the system. Click on the Start button and the first level of item options appears. As you continue to select items, you will move further through the menu (submenus).
Using the Start button:
Move your mouse pointer to the Start button. Click the left mouse button once to display the Start menu.
Move the mouse up to “All Programs”, but do not click the mouse button. Windows XP will display another menu of items (submenus).
Decide which application you would like to work with, and then move the mouse pointer up to the item title. Click on the title. After a moment, the program you’ve selected should appear on the screen.
The Taskbar on the bottom of the desktop has a Start button on the left end and a clock on the far right side. In the middle, the bar displays the icon names of the last three or four applications you’ve used. To return to one of these items, double-click on the icon in the taskbar.
Dialog boxes request responses and provide information. A dialog box is normally indicated by an ellipsis (…) to the right of the menu selection. Windows XP dialog boxes also display information, explanations or warnings. Most dialog boxes contain options, each one asking for a different kind of response. Once you’ve fill in the requested information, submit it by pressing “Enter” on your keyboard or clicking on the OK or Close button.
There are several storage locations accessible through “My Computer”. You can save a file to the A: drive (your diskette), the C: drive (the hard disk), and even the D: drive (CD or DVD). Double-click My Computer to view these storage devices. My Computer contains the student data files (on the C: drive) that you will use to complete your Microsoft tutorial assignments.
When you delete files or folders, they aren’t immediately erased, but sent to the Recycle Bin, which stores them for a predefined period of time. So if you accidentally delete a file, you can recover it by simply opening the Recycle Bin. Double-click the Recycle Bin icon to view a list of all the documents you’ve deleted. Right-click any file in the Recycle Bin and a context menu pops open. From here, you can return a file to its original location (Restore); copy it to the Clipboard (Cut); or remove it from the Recycle Bin entirely (Delete).
Manipulating a Window:
Time and again, you will need to resize, remove, or restore a window to accommodate the work you are doing on the desktop. These actions take no more than a few seconds and will make your computer sessions more efficient. Here are some of the buttons that will help you shape your desktop.
Maximize button (full screen)
When a window fills the full screen, it occupies all of the desktop area. This screen view is useful when you plan to work with one application for an extended period of time. When a screen has been maximized, the Maximize button turns into the Restore Down button (a double square, overlapping). The Restore Down button is located in the same place as the Maximize button, but the icon changes to two squares. Click on the button to restore the maximized window to normal size (or previous size) on the desktop. The Maximize button is the middle button in the top right corner of the window (a square).
The Close button closes an application. When you no longer need to use a program, application, or accessory, or you need to make room on your desktop. The Close button is the rightmost button in the top right corner of the screen (an X).
Minimize a window and it becomes a button or icon on the taskbar at the bottom of the desktop. Click once on the button to restore the window to the desktop. A minimized application is still running, although it is hidden from full view. You can keep the application open and available for future use while keeping the desktop uncluttered. The Minimize button is the leftmost button in the top right corner of the window (a dash).
Working with Applications
Selecting an application from the All Program’s menu, after you click the Start button, is one of the easier ways to start one up. However, there are several other ways to get the job done: You can create shortcuts on the desktop, double-click an application’s icon from within Windows Explorer, or launch it from the Run command line.
Some Ways of Launching Applications:
Click the Start button then choose All Programs. The menu that opens contains the individual applications or groups of applications.
Another way to launch applications is by using Windows Explorer. Open it, find the program you want to launch, and then double-click it.
Finally, you can also launch applications using the Start menu’s Run command. Just click the Start button, choose Run, and either type in the name of the program, or click the browse button to locate it.
Working with Files and Folders
A file is a collection of data that has a name (filenames can have as many as 255 characters, some special characters cannot be used, such as a “?”) and is stored in a directory on some computer media. Most filenames have an extension. An extension (a set of no more than three characters at the end of a filename, separated from the filename by a period) is used by the OS to identify and categorize the files by their file types. The applications that we will use in this course have the extension .doc (for Word), .xls (for Excel) and .ppt (for PowerPoint). Once you create a file, you can perform several operations on it, such as, editing, printing, storing, opening, closing, deleting, etc.
A folder is used to manage a collection of files when the list of files in a directory becomes unmanageable or just simply for organizational purposes. A folder has the same naming convention as files, but does not contain an extension. A folder within a folder is called a subfolder. The folder that contains another folder is called the parent folder. You can organize files by dragging the files into the appropriately named folder.
To create a new folder:
Click the directory in which you want to create a new folder.