Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Control Panel

The Control Panel in Windows XP functions similarly to the Control Panel in Windows 2000, except that "under the hood" there are now two locations that information is stored, which is modified by the Control Panel applets. The Control Panel in previous operating systems was a graphical interface for editing Registry information. The Windows XP Control Panel provides applets that edit the Registry and modify information stored in the Active Directory. The applets available in the Control Panel may vary, depending on the services you have installed. Figure below shows a typical Windows XP computer's Control Panel.

As you can see, the Control Panel provides a means for configuring and modifying settings for various components, including:
  • Accessibility Options Customizes features designed to provide better accessibility for the disabled
  • Add/Remove Hardware Guides you in the process of installing, removing, and troubleshooting Plug and Play hardware
  • Add/Remove Programs Installs and removes application programs and Windows components.
  • Administrative Tools A collection of utilities for configuration and management of the computer
  • Date/Time Allows you to set the date, time, and time zone.
  • Display Lets you customize the desktop appearance and modify display settings; used to set wallpaper, fonts, colors, screen resolution, etc.
  • Folder Options Allows you to change the appearance of folders, change file associations, and configure offline folders.
  • Fonts Used to install, delete, and manage fonts.
  • Internet Options Lets you configure options for your Web browser.
  • Keyboard and Mouse These applets allow you to set options for your keyboard and pointing device, including customizing cursors.
  • Network and Dial-up Connections Used to configure new network connections and the properties of the protocols, user preferences, and other settings.
  • Printers Allows you to install, delete, configure, and manage both local and network printers.
  • Regional Options Customizes settings for display of time, language, and other region-specific settings.
  • Scheduled Tasks Used to set up tasks to run automatically at specified dates and times.
  • Sounds and Multimedia Lets you set system sounds for specified events and configure sound devices.
  • System Provides system information and allows you to modify environment settings, network identification information, performance options, and startup and recovery information.
  • Users and Passwords Manages local user accounts

Microsoft always recommends that if possible, you use the Control Panel interface to make changes rather than editing the Registry directly. Unfortunately, that's not always possible, which brings us to the next component.