Chapter 2. The Desktop and Start Menu

When you turn on a Windows XP Pro computer for the first time, you may think that you’re simply seeing the traditional Windows startup process as redesigned by a West Coast graphic designer. If it’s a new computer, you may also receive a big hello from the company that sold it to you.

If you’ve just performed a clean installation of Windows XP (Section A.5.2), or if it’s a brand-new PC, you may now be treated to a series of blue “Welcome to Microsoft Windows” setup screens. This Setup Wizard guides you through setting up an Internet account, activating your copy of Windows (Section 1.5.1), setting up accounts for different people who will be sharing this computer (Section 17.1), and so on. Appendix A has a complete description of this process.

Logging In

What happens next in the startup process depends on which of XP Pro’s two “personalities” you’re seeing, which is determined by what kind of network you’re connected to.

Eager though you may be to dive in, taking a minute to learn the difference is essential if you hope to understand what appears on screen when you log in and why it may not match the examples you see online and in magazines and books.

Domains vs. Workgroups

Unlike Windows XP Home Edition, which was designed primarily for individuals to use, well, at home, Windows XP Pro serves two masters. Although it works very well for home PCs, it’s also designed to thrive in massively networked corporations.

As a result, Windows XP Pro ...

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