Export (0) Print
Expand All

Using the Help and Support Center in Windows XP

Published: October 01, 2001

Abstract

The Help and Support Center in the Windows® XP operating system represents a significant milestone in delivering a single resource for Online Help, support, tools, how to articles, and other resources. This article provides a guide to using key features in the Help and Support Center in Windows XP.

On This Page

Introduction
Using Online Help
Using Support
Getting Help with Remote Assistance
Exploring Windows Newsgroups
Optimizing Compatibility of Applications, Drivers, and Hardware
Staying Up to Date
Using Tools
Summary
Related Links

Introduction

The Help and Support Center in the Windows® XP operating system represents a significant milestone in delivering a single resource for Online Help, support, tools, how to articles, and other resources. Extensive Online Help is accessible via Search, the Index, or the table of contents. Plus it's easy to get Help from an online Microsoft support professional, trade questions and answers with other Windows XP users on Windows newsgroups, or use Remote Assistance to have a friend, co-worker, or Helpdesk professional assist you.

This article introduces the Help and Support Center with guidance on the following:

  • Using Online Help

  • Using Support

  • Getting Help with Remote Assistance

  • Exploring Windows Newsgroups

  • Optimizing Compatibility of Applications, Drivers, and Hardware

  • Using Windows Update

  • Using Tools

To open Help and Support:

  • Click Start, and then click Help and Support. The Help and Support Center opens as shown in Figure 1 below.

    Figure 1: Opening the home page of the Help and Support Center

    Figure 1: Opening the home page of the Help and Support Center

Using Online Help

Windows XP provides extensive help on all the features in your operating system. It's easy to navigate through Help topics from the Help and Support Center home page. Click Home or Index on the navigation bar to view the table of contents or index, or type a word or words into the Search box to find what you need, as shown in Figure 2 below.

Figure 2: Using the index in online Help

Figure 2: Using the index in online Help

Using Search

Know the exact term you need help with? Just enter one or more keywords into the Search box at the upper left of the Help and Support home page.

  • Suggested Topics. Provides the most relevant content based on your keywords. Examples of the types of content include:

    • Pick a Task. Shows links to detailed procedures to complete a task.

    • Overviews, Articles and Tutorials. Provides links to articles that help you gain a general understanding of the topic.

  • Full–text Search Matches. Returns content that may contain less relevant prominent matches to your keywords.

  • Microsoft Knowledge Base. Contains in–depth articles and technical support information from Microsoft Product Support Services. You need to be connected to the Internet in order for these search results to appear.

Using Support

The Support page in the Help and Support Center offers a variety of ways for you to get help, including over the Internet. To open the Support page, click the Support icon at the top of the Help and Support Center.

Getting Assistance Online

Using Remote Assistance, you can allow someone you know to connect to your computer over the Internet, chat with you, and observe your computer screen as you work. With your permission, he or she can use their keyboard and mouse as you work together to solve your problem. For more information, see Getting Help with Remote Assistance below.

You can also visit a support newsgroup to find a peer to help you figure out the best way to use Microsoft products. For more information, see Exploring Windows Newsgroups below.

The Support page can give you access to assistance from your computer manufacturer, and if you acquired Windows XP separately, from Microsoft.

Getting Assistance Offline

If you're not connected to the Internet, you can use other tools to help solve problems:

  • My Computer Information displays information about the software and hardware you currently have installed.

  • Advanced System Information and System Configuration Utility provide technical details that support professionals can use to help solve problems.

Getting Help with Remote Assistance

Sometimes the best way to fix a problem is to have someone show you how. Remote Assistance is a convenient way for a distant friend to connect to your computer from another computer running a compatible operating system, such as Microsoft Windows XP, and walk you through your solution.

By following the easy steps in Remote Assistance, you can use Windows Messenger Service or an e-mail message to invite a friend, coworker, or support professional to connect to your computer. After he or she is connected, your friend will be able to view your computer screen and chat with you in real time about what you both see. With your permission, your assistant can even use his or her mouse and keyboard to work with you on your computer.

To start Remote Assistance:

  1. Click Start, and then click Help and Support.

  2. Click Invite a friend to Connect to Your Computer with Remote Assistance. The Remote Assistance windows opens as shown in Figure 3 below.

    Figure 3: Using Remote Assistance

    Figure 3: Using Remote Assistance

    Note: Both you and your helper must be using either Windows Messenger Service or a MAPI-compliant e-mail account such as Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express. You and your helper need to be connected to the Internet while using Remote Assistance. If you are working on a local area network, firewalls might stop you from using Remote Assistance. In this case, check with your network administrator before using Remote Assistance. If for some reason you are unable to send an invitation by using e-mail or Windows Messenger Service, you can create and save an invitation. On the first page of Remote Assistance, click Invite someone to help you, and then click the save option at the bottom of the next page. You can then send the saved invitation file to your helper in the manner you choose, such as copying it onto a floppy disk or a shared network location, sending it over another e-mail service or an FTP connection, and so on.

For more information about Remote Assistance, see Step-by-Step Guide to Using Remote Assistance at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/winxppro/maintain/rmassist.mspx.

Exploring Windows Newsgroups

Windows XP newsgroups provide a community of users and experts who may be able to answer your questions. Links to Windows newsgroups in the Help and Support Center take you to the Windows XP Newsgroups page at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/expertzone/newsgroups.mspx, as shown in Figure 4 below.

Figure 4: Using newsgroups in Windows XP

Figure 4: Using newsgroups in Windows XP

Optimizing Compatibility of Applications, Drivers, and Hardware

Need to find out which modems are compatible with Windows XP? Having trouble running your favorite game? To find compatibility issues information, on the Help and Support Center home page, click Find compatible hardware and software for Windows XP. You can also use the Program Compatibility Wizard to resolve the most common compatibility problems between your programs and Windows XP that might occur after an upgrade.

Getting Older Programs to Run on Windows XP

Most programs run properly on Windows XP. The exceptions are some older games and other programs that were written specifically for an earlier version of Windows. To run your program on Windows XP, try the following:

  • Run the Program Compatibility Wizard.

  • Set the compatibility properties manually.

  • Update your program, drivers, or hardware.

These options are covered in detail below.

Running Program Compatibility Wizard

This wizard prompts you to test your program in different modes (environments) and with various settings. For example, if the program was originally designed to run on Windows 95, set the compatibility mode to Windows 95 and try running your program again. If successful, the program will start in that mode each time. The wizard also allows you to try different settings, such as switching the display to 256 colors and the screen resolution to 640 x 480 pixels.

If compatibility problems prevent you from installing a program on Windows XP, run the Program Compatibility Wizard on the setup file for the program. The file may be called Setup.exe or something similar, and is probably located on the Installation disc for the program.

To run the Program Compatibility Wizard:

  1. Click Start, click Help and Support, click Find compatible hardware and software for Windows XP, and then, under See Also in the navigation pane, click Program Compatibility Wizard.

  2. Follow the instructions in the wizard.

Setting the Compatibility Properties Manually

As an alternative to running the Program Compatibility Wizard, you can set the compatibility properties for a program manually. The settings are the same as the options in the Program Compatibility Wizard.

To set the compatibility properties for a program manually:

  1. Right-click the program icon on your desktop or the shortcut on the Start menu for the program you want to run, and then click Properties.

  2. Click the Compatibility tab, and change the compatibility settings for your program.

Note: The Compatibility tab is only available for programs installed on your hard drive. Although you can run the Program Compatibility Wizard on programs or setup files on a CD-ROM or floppy disk, your changes will not remain in effect after you close the program.

For more information about an option on the Compatibility tab, right-click the option and then click What's This.

Updating Your Program or Drivers

If your program does not run correctly after testing it with the Program Compatibility Wizard, check the Web for updates or other fixes, as follows:

  1. Check the Web site of the program's manufacturer to see if an update or patch is available.

  2. Check Windows Update to see if a fix is available for the program. Click Home on the menu bar of Help and Support Center, then click Windows Update in the right pane.

  3. If the program is a game that uses DirectX, ensure that you are using the latest version of DirectX. In addition, check the Web site of the manufacturer of your video card or sound card to see if newer drivers are available for either of them.

Staying Up to Date

The Help and Support Center makes it easy to keep up with the latest updates, tools, and news about Windows XP.

Using Windows Update

You can download the latest updates for Windows XP, other programs on your computer, and your hardware. You can have Windows Update notify you automatically when critical updates become available.

To check what is available, click open the Help and Support Center home page and click Keep your computer up-to-date with Windows Update. A window opens similar to what is shown in Figure 5 below.

Figure 5: Using Windows Update

Figure 5: Using Windows Update

Keeping Windows Up-To-Date Automatically

Windows can now keep your computer up-to-date automatically with the latest updates, drivers, and enhancements. You no longer have to search for critical updates and information; Windows delivers them directly to your computer. Windows recognizes when you are online and uses your Internet connection to search for downloads from the Windows Update Web site. An icon appears in the notification area each time new updates are available.

You can specify how you want Windows to update your computer. For example, you can choose to have Windows notify you whenever it finds updates available for your computer. It will then download the updates in the background, allowing you to continue working uninterrupted. After the download is complete, an icon will appear in the taskbar with a message that the updates are ready to be installed. When you click the icon or message, you will be able to install the new updates in a few simple steps.

If you choose not to install a specific update that has been downloaded, Windows deletes its files from your computer. If you change your mind later, you can download it again by first clicking Restore Declined Updates. If any of the updates you previously declined still apply to your computer, they will appear the next time Windows notifies you of available updates.

Note:

In Windows XP Home Edition, you must be logged on as a computer administrator to install components or modify Automatic Updates settings. In Windows XP Professional, you must be logged on as an administrator or a member of the Administrators group. If your computer is connected to a network, network policy settings might also prevent you from completing this procedure.

Windows might prompt you to restart your computer after certain components are installed. Please restart your computer when prompted; otherwise, your computer might not work properly.

You can always install specific updates from the Windows Update Web site. Open Windows Update in Help and Support Center.

Getting How To Articles About Windows XP

It's easy to see some of the latest how to articles from the Web by clicking on links directly in the Help and Support home page, as shown in Figure 6 below.

Figure 6: Linking to headlines about using Windows XP

Figure 6: Linking to headlines about using Windows XP

This section of the Help and Support home page may also provide links to specific tools. In this example, you're invited to try the Program Compatibility Wizard.

Checking this area is a good way to stay up to date on the latest tools, developments, and how to information about Windows XP.

Using Tools

Use the many tools in Help and Support Center to find information about your computer and keep it working efficiently. To display the list of tools, on the Help and Support Center home page, click Use Tools to view your computer information and diagnose problems. The list of tools and resources appears as shown in Figure 6 below.

Figure 7: Accessing tools from the Help and Support Center

Figure 7: Accessing tools from the Help and Support Center

Using Troubleshooters

Troubleshooters help you diagnose and solve technical problems that are occurring with your computer. When you start a troubleshooter, you must answer a series of questions about the problem you are having. These answers help Windows find a solution to your problem. As shown in Table 1 below, there are numerous different troubleshooters, each one designed to solve a different type of problem.

Troubleshooter

Identifies and resolves problems related to:

System setup

Installing and setting up Windows.

Startup/Shutdown

Starting and shutting down your computer.

Display

Video cards and video adapters, including your computer screen, outdated or incompatible video drivers, and incorrect settings for your video hardware.

Home networking

Setup, Internet connections, sharing files and printers.

Hardware

Disk drives (including CD-ROM and DVD drives), game controllers, input devices (such as keyboards, mice, cameras, scanners, and infrared devices), network adapter cards, USB devices, modems, and sound cards. Also see the more specific hardware device troubleshooters below.

Multimedia and games

Games and other multimedia programs, DirectX drivers, USB devices, digital video discs (DVDs), sound, joysticks, and related issues.

Digital Video Discs (DVDs)

DVD drives and decoders.

Input Devices

Keyboards, mouse and trackball devices, cameras, scanners, and infrared devices.

Drives and Network Adapters

Hard discs, floppy discs, CD-ROM and DVD drives, network cards, tape drives, backup programs.

USB

USB connectors and peripherals.

Sound

Sound and sound cards.

Modem

Modem connections, setup, configuration, and detection.

Internet connection sharing

Connecting and logging on to your Internet service provider (ISP).

Internet Explorer

Browsing the Web, downloading files, saving your favorites, using IE toolbars, or printing Web pages.

Outlook Express (Messaging)

Outlook Express and Windows Messenger Service.

File and Print Sharing

Sharing files and printers between computers, connecting to other computers in a network, installing network adapters, logging on.

Printing

Printer installation and connection, printer drivers, print quality, printer speed, and fonts.

To get the best results from the Windows troubleshooters, follow these guidelines:

  • Hide the navigation pane of the Help and Support Center by clicking Change View on the Help toolbar. You can also resize the window by dragging the borders.

  • Follow the troubleshooter steps exactly. If you do not, you may miss critical information and limit the effectiveness of the troubleshooter.

  • Some troubleshooter steps require you to restart your computer or close the troubleshooter window. If this is required, you should write down (or remember) how you answered each question in the troubleshooter so you can return to the same location in the troubleshooter after your computer restarts or after you reopen the troubleshooter window.

Summary

Microsoft has a vast library of information and software tools to help you get the most out of your computer. In the past, these resources were scattered among books, CDs, and Web sites. The newly designed Help and Support Center in Windows XP puts the most useful tools and information in one convenient location—on the Start menu. You can save links to Help information in your Favorites folder, run programs that maintain your computer's health, or search to learn about specific topics.

Finding What You Need in the Help and Support Center

Try one of the following methods to find a topic:

  • Browse through topics by categories, starting with the top-level categories on the Help and Support Center home page.

  • Pick a task on the Help and Support Center home page.

  • Click Index on the navigation bar at the top of the window, and then either type a keyword or scroll through the keyword list.

  • Type a word or short phrase in the Search box, and then choose a topic from the results of your query.

Related Links

See the following resources for further information:

For the latest information about Windows XP, see the Windows XP Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/default.asp.

Was this page helpful?
(1500 characters remaining)
Thank you for your feedback
Show:
© 2014 Microsoft