To access this utility, go to Start-Programs-Accessories-System Tools and click System Information. It may take a little while to load, depending on the speed of your computer.
The screen that greets you is called Help and Support and the first bit of information displayed is the System Summary. It gives a general overview of your system configuration, showing processor speed and basic memory details.
On the left pane of the window are different branches that can be expanded to give you in-depth details of hardware and software settings.
HARDWARE: Clicking on the plus sign of this branch will reveal information about your Interrupt requests, DMA settings, I/O settings and memory allocations. It also lists useful information about any devices that are sharing resources or conflicting with each other.
COMPONENTS: Clicking on the plus sign of this branch will reveal information about your multimedia, display, network, modem, storage and printing devices, among others. Click on each component to view the specifics. This is the place to come to if you are uncertain about what sort of hardware is in your machine. For example, clicking on Display will reveal the type of graphics card in your machine by identifying its graphics chip.
SOFTWARE ENVIRONMENT: This particular branch should be visited if you want to find out which tasks, and how many tasks, are currently running on your computer. You can also determine the number of programs that are in your startup folder and currently running, and if your system is currently processing any print documents.
INTERNET EXPLORER: Micro-soft has devoted an entire branch to its built-in Web browser and from here you can view all of its settings and, most importantly, you can view the exact version number that you are running. Connectivity options for your Dial-up Networking connection can be viewed here, as can cache and security settings.
SAVE THE INFO: If you wish to save any of this information to a text file, you can do so by clicking on the Export command found in the File menu. Unfortunately, you can't select which component to export, so you will end up with all your system information in one file. If you want to only save a particular branch of information you can do so simply by highlighting it with the mouse, copying it, opening up Notepad and pasting it.
THE TOOLS MENU: The part of System Information described above is purely for perusal - you can't change any system settings from this screen. The Tools menu, however, will allow you to run diagnostic tools such as Dr Watson, and lets you enter the System Configuration Utility. This allows you to do just that - configure your system - particularly for the startup process. When you enter this utility, from the General tab you can select from three different startup modes - normal, diagnostic and selective - which can be useful, particularly if your system is experiencing instability. The startup tab offers even more versatility, as you can disable any or all of the programs listed to start automatically when Windows boots up.