Windows XP Pro comes with a LAN-based messaging program called Microsoft Chat, which is a handy addition to your technical support toolbox. Microsoft Chat provides you with a real-time messaging program that you can use to help remotely troubleshoot problems on a small business network.

By default, Microsoft Chat is hidden in your Windows folder, and the services that it depends on are disabled. Here’s how to start the services and then uncover the program’s executable file:

  1. Right-click My Computer and select Manage.
  2. In the Computer Management window, open the Services And Applications branch in the left pane, and click Services.
  3. In the Services pane, locate and double-click Network DDE and then double-click Network DDE DSDM.
  4. In the Properties dialog box for each Service, set the Startup Type setting to Automatic, click the Apply button, click the Start button, and then click OK.
  5. Close the Computer Management window and then restart Windows.
  6. When the system comes back up, press [Windows]R to open the Run dialog box.
  7. Type Winchat.exe in the Open box and click OK.

You can now see the user interface. You can initiate a call by clicking the Dial button on the toolbar. When you do, the Select Computer dialog box will appear; select the name of the network computer to which you want to establish a connection. On the other computer, the recipient responds by clicking the Answer An Incoming Call button on the toolbar. Upon connection, both parties will see a Connected To message in the status bar and can immediately begin typing messages back and forth in real time. When you’re finished, click the Hang Up button on the toolbar.

Note: This tip applies only to Windows XP Professional.

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