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Tip A handy quick way to set an adapter's color depth and pixel resolution at once, along with the refresh rate, is as follows:
1. Choose the Display control panel.
2. Click the Settings tab.
3. Click the Advanced button.
4. Click the Adapter tab.
5. Click the List All Modes button to display a dialog box that looks like the one in Figure 8-2.
Figure 8-2: Set three display settings in one fell swoop.
Note that if the monitor appears in the Display control panel as 'Default Monitor,' then either the video adapter or the monitor is not compliant with Plug and Play, and you should install the driver manually. If the monitor appears as 'Plug and Play Monitor,' then the monitor is compliant, but Windows XP needs a driver from the hardware manufacturer.
The Web tab (included in Windows 2000 and 98), which allowed you to control whether or not your desktop appears as a Web page, and if so, which Web elements you want to be there, has been both changed and moved. The change is that you can't turn off Web view anymore (surprise!). As to the new location, open the Display control panel, choose the Desktop tab, click the Customize Desktop button, and then you can see the Web tab.
You can change the video resolution on the fly (that is, without restarting), but you see a message that doing so can create problems for some programs, so some testing on your part can confirm or deny whether you must, in fact, restart after changing pixel resolution or color depth. Set the default behavior in the General tab of the Advanced Settings property sheet, in the box marked Compatibility.
Instant Answer You may need to know that the acceleration slider (which by the way isn't a baseball pitch) can be found on the Display control panel by clicking Settings, Advanced, and Troubleshoot. Back off from full acceleration if you have mouse pointer problems or problems with images getting corrupted (see Figure 8-3). Also, clear the Enable Write Combining check box if you experience display corruption. Leave it checked otherwise, as it improves display performance.
Figure 8-3: The acceleration slider is handy for throuble-shooting display problems.
Tip If you're having video problems, one time-honored technique is to boot with the plain old VGA driver and then check your configuration in Device Manager. Windows XP Professional automatically uses the plain VGA driver if it detects a video problem, but who's to say its detection is perfect? You can manually force basic VGA by pressing F8 during the early text-mode stage of the boot process (you have to be fast!), then selecting Enable VGA Mode. Once you get Windows running, change or update the video driver and reboot.
You can also fire up the Windows XP display troubleshooter (part of the help system) by clicking the Troubleshoot button on the Settings tab.
Configuring multiple displays
Microsoft introduced multiple monitor support in Windows 98, and the feature has found its way onto the NT platform in Windows XP and 2000. You can have up to ten monitors running simultaneously. A number of prerequisites and caveats apply, however.
Multiple display requirements and limitations
First, a terminology note. The POST device is the video adapter that displays the BIOS messages and memory test during the Power On Self Test. The primary display adapter is where Windows XP displays the startup screens, logon dialog box, prompts, pop-up windows, and where applications typically display their main window at startup. The primary display adapter doesn't have to be the same as the POST device. A secondary display adapter is any adapter above and beyond the primary one.
Here are the rules and regs for multiple monitor support in Windows XP:
* Both display adapters must connect via a PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) or AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) slot.
* The primary adapter is the only one that enjoys full hardware DirectX acceleration, and the only one that can run DirectX applications in full-screen mode. Ideally, the adapter with the best hardware performance should be the primary adapter.
* For a device to work as a secondary display adapter, it must be on the Microsoft list of acceptable secondary display adapters (see the HCL, or Hardware Compatibility List). Many video cards work as primary adapters, but not as secondary adapters.
* If one of the display adapters is integrated onto the motherboard, that adapter must always be a secondary adapter.
* The BIOS in some PCs automatically disables an on-board video adapter if it detects a plug-in video adapter. You may be able to turn this 'feature' off in the BIOS setup, but you may not.
* If one of the display adapters is integrated onto the motherboard, you must install Windows XP before you install the add-in adapter. Setup isn't smart enough to know about multiple displays, and if it sees an on-board display adapter and a plug-in display adapter, it disables the on-board one. Install the add-in adapter by using the Add/Remove Hardware Wizard if Windows XP doesn't detect the adapter automatically.