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This chapter is from the book

Switching to the Windows 2000 Interface

As nice as you can make the Windows XP interface, it differs from the one in Windows 2000. Some power users won't want to take the time to learn the new interface. At least a few companies will shy away from the Windows XP interface in any form because it means training support staff and then all users in the organization.

Interestingly enough, some users have also complained that the new interface is a case of too much of a good thing. Some have complained that the new interface gives them headaches or is too difficult to see. During the beta process, complaints ran from too many colors to the wrong color selection. Still other users miss the 3D look of Windows 2000. The point is that Windows XP is too bright and cheerful for some users—they want things quiet and mundane, which is just fine. Microsoft provides the means for users to select the older Windows 2000 interface.


At least a few users have claimed that the source of headaches (at least for them) when using Windows XP is the new Clear Type font smoothing. The new font-smoothing technique could cause problems when coupled with the new interface colors and flat appearance. At least one Microsoft representative commented that the company designed Clear Type for liquid crystal display (LCD) use, the kinds of displays provided with laptop computers. Windows XP still includes the standard font smoothing found in Windows 2000, so you can choose to use standard font smoothing or no font smoothing to see if your headaches go away. Right-click the Desktop, and choose Properties. Select the Appearance tab of the Display Properties dialog box. Click Effects, and you'll see an Effects dialog box. Choose something other than Clear Type for the font-smoothing option. Click OK twice to close the Effects and Display Properties dialog boxes. We'll discuss how Windows works with fonts in detail in the "Windows and Fonts" section of Chapter 14.

To obtain the Windows XP version of the Windows 2000 interface, you'll need to switch to the Classic Start Menu, as we did in the preceding section. After you make that change, you'll need to change the Windows theme. As we'll see in the "Themes" section of this chapter, themes are more than simple window dressing in Windows XP. Changing a theme requires that you right-click the Desktop and choose Properties. Select the Themes tab of the Display Properties dialog box, as shown in Figure 3.2. Choose the Windows Classic theme from the Theme drop-down list box.

Figure 3.2 The Windows Classic theme is all you need to see a Windows 2000 view of Windows XP.

Don't get the idea that this interface is precisely like the one you used in Windows 2000. It looks like the Windows 2000 interface and has many of the same features, but you'll still find Windows XP features mixed in. For example, none of the Properties dialog boxes will change simply because you change the theme. Although the Windows Classic theme does make more changes than a theme under Windows 2000, it can't change basic operating system functionality.


Some of you who have used Windows 3.x will eventually notice that the System32 folder contains a copy of Program Manager (Progman.EXE). Yes, this is the same program that Windows 3.x used as an interface, and you can still start it if you want. Going back to that interface during testing showed me just how far Windows has come—the latest Windows interfaces have so much more to offer. Although you can run Program Manager if you wish, installing it as the main interface is nearly impossible. Microsoft provides Program Manager as a means for supporting older applications. Some of these older applications won't install unless they can start a copy of Program Manager to store their icons. You can move the icons (when necessary) from Program Manager to the Start Menu. However, you should ignore Program Manager for the most part; it's simply a piece of an old version of Windows that we still need for a while longer.

What can you expect from the Windows Classic theme? Anything that deals specifically with the Windows interface will change. The colors, icons, text, and basic look will all change. Some items, such as the Start Menu, will take on a decidedly Windows 2000 look. Some of the tabs of property pages will change. For example, the Appearance tab of the Display Properties dialog box will contain Windows 2000 options instead of their Windows XP equivalents. However, the way you use the tab will remain the same as it did under Windows XP. In short, you end up with a partial change that will feel much like Windows 2000, but won't go all the way.

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