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How to decide whether to upgrade to 64 bit XP
Have you been tempted by the availability of 64 bit hardware to buy a new computer, but wondering what you’ll lose if you switch to the 64 bit OS? Aside from the issues over Blue Pill discussed in today’s editorial, here are some other things to be aware of before you take the plunge:

  • You can’t upgrade 32 bit XP Pro to XP x64 and preserve your settings. However, you can dual boot the two on the same computer.
  • MS-DOS and 16 bit Windows programs won’t run on XP x64, so if you have any of these that you still use, you’ll need to keep a 32 bit system around, or dual boot, to run them.
  • Hardware devices must have 64 bit drivers to run on the 64 bit OS. Otherwise they won’t work.
  • You can run 32 bit applications on XP x64, but they run in a Windows On Windows (WOW) subsystem.

If you’re running a 64 bit edition of Windows, let us know what you think. What 64 bit processor do you use (AMD or Intel)? What, if any, compatibility problems have you had (hardware and software)? What advantages have you noticed? Is the extra performance worth it? 

How to use the Network Diagnostics Tool
Networking problems are one of the most frustrating types of computer problem you can have these days, since so many applications – including browsing the Web – depend on Internet connectivity. Because networking is complex and just one wrong setting can cause you to get those irritating “cannot display the webpage” messages in IE, these problems can also be tough to diagnose. But you can better track down what’s wrong and fix it with Microsoft’s Network Diagnostics Tool. Find out how to get and run it here.

And for a detailed tutorial on using it, see Charlie Russel’s article here.

You get error messages when you try to start or install an MS-DOS or 16 bit program
You can run old legacy programs written for MS-DOS or 16 bit Windows on your XP computer, but sometimes you might find that you get error messages saying the system file is not suitable for running MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows applications. Your only option is to select Close to terminate the application. What’s up with that? Usually, it means your config.nt, autoexec.nt and/or file is missing or corrupt. You can fix the problem by reinstalling the files from the XP installation CD. For instructions on how to do so, see KB article 324767.

Explorer.exe stops responding when you use network shortcuts
If you have a Windows XP computer with SP1 or SP2 installed and you’ve also installed security update 821557, you might find that Explorer.exe stops responding and hangs up if you try to access network shortcuts on another computer using the shortcuts in My Network Places. This happens because of an increase in network traffic. There’s a hotfix available that will fix the problem, but Microsoft recommends you install it only if you’re severely affected by the problem. To find out how to get it, see KB article 841978.


“Up” button replaced by something better
The new Windows Explorer interface in Vista takes a little getting used to. We’ve had several folks ask “Where’s the ‘Up’ button that used to let us go up one level in the file structure?” and the answer is: it’s gone. But that’s actually not a problem, because it’s been replaced by something better. The folder path shown in the address bar is now clickable – you can click on any level in the path to go up one or more levels instantly (instead of clicking “Up” several times to go up several levels). It makes navigation easier – once you get into the habit. Try it; we think you’ll like it.

Black Hat attendees impressed with Vista security efforts
The Black Hat crowd isn’t an easy one to impress, and many attendees come in with a pre-set anti-Microsoft attitude, so it was interesting both that Microsoft decided to put their Vista security improvements “out there” at this year’s conference, and that a surprising number of those in attendance admitted to being impressed with those improvements. Read more here.

Deb Shinder