Installing Desktop Software

Most people don’t buy their computers from Microsoft. Most computers come from companies like Dell, HP, Acer, and Lenovo; they install Windows on each computer before customers take delivery.

Many PC companies sweeten the pot by preinstalling other programs, such as Quicken, Microsoft Works, Microsoft Office, more games, educational software, and so on. The great thing about preloaded programs is that they don’t need installing. Just double-click their desktop icons, or choose their names from the Start screen, and you’re off and working.

Sooner or later, though, you’ll probably want to exploit the massive library of Windows software and add to your collection. Today, almost all new desktop software comes to your PC from one of two sources: a disc (CD or DVD) or the Internet. (The following discussion doesn’t apply to TileWorld apps, which are simpler to find and install.)

An installer program generally transfers the software files to the correct places on your hard drive. The installer also adds the new program’s name to the Start screen, tells Windows about the kinds of files (file extensions) it can open, and makes certain changes to your Registry (Appendix B).

The Preinstallation Checklist

You can often get away with blindly installing some new desktop program without heeding the checklist below. But for the healthiest PC and the least time on hold with tech support, answer these questions before you install anything:

  • Are you an administrator? Windows derives ...

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