CIRCUITS TECHNOLOGY COLUMN

Switching computer search engines


Published: Monday, January 12, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 11, 2004 at 10:42 p.m.

Q: Is it possible change the search engine page that comes up automatically in the Search Companion area of Internet Explorer 6? I would like to switch from MSN to Google.

A: MSN Search is Microsoft's default search engine, which pops up when you type a query into the Search Companion panel on the left side of your screen in Windows XP.

If you prefer to use Google or another search engine, you can change the setting. If the Search Companion is not visible, click on the Search button on the Internet Explorer toolbar.

Select the Change Preferences option under the box in which you type search terms. Then click on Change Internet Search Behavior on the next screen.

A list of search engines, including Google, Teoma, Ask Jeeves, Yahoo and others, is near the bottom of the screen. MSN is the default choice, but you can click on another choice.

The next time you type a query into the Search Companion, results should come from your chosen search engine.

Q: I notice that some software requires Windows 98 SE. What is the difference between Windows 98 and Windows 98 SE, and how can I tell which version I have?

A: Windows 98, released in 1998, was Microsoft's first major upgrade to its three-year-old Windows 95 operating system.

Windows 98 Second Edition, or SE, is an updated version of Windows 98 that was released in 1999. It remained the current version of Windows for home users until Windows Millennium Edition (Me) was released in 2000.

In an update to the original Windows 98, Windows 98 SE included Internet Explorer 5.0, Windows Media Player 6.2 and DirectX 6.1, but these were in any case available to download free from Microsoft's site.

Along with several patches, system updates and code corrections to eliminate bugs, the Second Edition also included the Internet Connection Sharing feature, which allows multiple computers to share a single Internet connection, and offered improved support for USB FireWire and DVD-related hardware.

You can tell which version of the system is on your computer by right-clicking on the My Computer icon on the desktop and selecting Properties from the pop-up menu.

On the General tab in the Properties box, look to see whether it says Windows 98 Second Edition or simply Windows 98.

Windows XP, released in 2001, is the current version. Microsoft ended free tech support for Windows 98 last July and is supplying paid support only until Jan. 16 as it retires that version.

It will continue to provide Web-based technical help for Windows 98 and 98 SE at its site.

Circuits invites questions about computer-based technology, by e-mail to QandA@nytimes.com. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually.

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