Microsoft has gone to great lengths to integrate the Internet into every nook and cranny of Windows XP. Links and buttons that spur your modem into a dialing frenzy are everywhere: on the Help screens, in the Search window, and even in the “Send error report to Microsoft?” dialog boxes that appear after program crashes. Once you’ve got your Internet connection working (Chapter 9), you may find that it’s easier to go online than it is not to.
The Internet offers dozens of different features, most of them graced with such unhelpful, invented-by-government-scientists-in-the-sixties names as FTP, Telnet, Gopher, and so on. But a few of the most popular Internet services are both easy to understand and easy to use: the World Wide Web, email, online chatting, video-conferencing, and free phone calls.
You can use whichever software you prefer for these functions. To connect to the Web, for example, experts rave about the free Mozilla Firefox (http://www.mozilla.org). To check your email, use Eudora, Lotus Notes, and so on.
But most Windows XP users wind up using the Internet programs that are built right into the operating system: Internet Explorer, newly enhanced in Service Pack 2,; Outlook Express for email; and Windows Messenger or NetMeeting for chatting, free long-distance “phone” calls, and teleconferencing. This chapter covers all of these programs except Outlook Express, which is described in Chapter 12.
Internet Explorer ...