Copyright Michael Karbo, Denmark, Europe.

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    Chapter 15. About CD and DVD

    Nearlly all pc’s have one or more CD-drives installed. Let us see how Windows XP handles them.

    Different types of optical drives

    When we talk about CD- and DVD-drives, we are talking about so-called optical drives, contrary to harddisks and diskettes, wich are magnetic. There are many types of CD- and DVD-drives. Let us start with a summary:


    Drive type


    Regular CD-ROM

    Read CD-ROM incl. regular

    CD-R/RW (burnable)

    Read CD-ROM
    Write CD-R and CD-RW

    Reguilar DVD

    Read CD-ROM and
    DVD-ROM (typical movie clips)

    DVD+RW (burner)

    Read CD-ROM and DVD-ROM
    Write CD-R, CD-RW and

    Figure 64. The most common drives for optic media.

    DVD exists in now in different variations, and besides there are also different combination drives. My own CD-ROM burner also reads DVD- disks.

    But regardless of which drive you have, they look almost identical. They use media (also called disks) of the same size. The drives are quite easy to work with, and they behave identical relative to Windows XP.

    See the drive

    If you want to do the exercise yourself, you need to find the CD-ROM/DVD-media (disks) and be ready to at put them in the drive or drives (if you have two). Alternatively you can read the review with screen images from my pc.

    1.      Open Windows Explorer. You need to start with an empty CD drive.

    2.      You see the CD-ROM/DVD-drive in the ”tree” under My Computer:

    3.      Try to click on an empty drive, then you get this error message:

    4.      So you need to put a medium in the drives. Here you see my two drives:


    5.      There is a movie in the DVD-drive (E:). That can be seen from the title MI2PAL_INTERNATIONAL, which stands for Mission Impossible 2 (PAL is a TV system, and the DVD is an international version).

    6.      All CD-ROM- and DVD-media have a title, and is shown in the Explorer. In the F-drive I have put a CD-ROM with the program Premiere. At the same time both drives’ icons are changed because of the current medium – can you see that?

    7.      So Windows Explorer shows that there are now CD-ROM/DVD-media in the drives.

    Figure 65. With a DVD-drive the pc can work as a home movie theater.


    When a CD-ROM/DVD-medium is placed in a drive, Windows XP will attempt to play it. This function is called autoplay, and it can run a little different, depending on what data there are on the disk.

    1.      A CD-ROM can be designed with autoplay function. That is most often the case with purchased program-CDs, while it is rarely found on home designed and -burnt CDs.

    2.      The function causes a welcome screen to appear, as soon as the drive recognizes the presence of the CD:

    3.      There are also autoplay for DVDs. If for some reason the function does not activate, you may get a screen message like this:

    4.      Windows XP suggests to play the DVD with Windows Media Player. You can do that, or you can choose another player program if you have such.

    5.      When the DVD plays, you can select from numerous features such as language, sub titles etc.:

    6.      One of the most popular player programs is Power-DVD, but many purchased DVDs have a built-in player program. But the pro­grams can do about the same thing.

    7.      If you use Windows Media Player for the playing, you can change the image size with this control unit:

    8.      Finally you can choose to make the picture fill the whole screen by pressing Alt+Enter.

    Figure 66. Then the movie starts. Here it is played with the Windows Media Player program.

    It is my conclusion that Windows XP is very well suited to play DVD movies. But it reaquires a sound card and quality speakers to make the sound match the fine DVD picture. If your screen card has a so-called ”TV-out”, you can connect the TV to there. Then you can see the movie there.

    Besides the DVD disks can hold enormously large data volumes. If you try to right click on a DVD in Windows Explorer and select Properties, you can see how many gigabytes we are talking about.

    Figure 67. This movie occupies 7.6 GB.


    Many pc’s are equipped with CD burners. That is a CD drive, which beyond reading also can write the two types of media CD-R (which can be written only once) and CD-RW (which can be written to many times).

    Traditionally you had to install special software to be able to burn your own CDs. There are still lots of excellent programs for that operation (including many free), but with Windows XP the task can actually be done with Windows Explorer.

    Burning with Windows Explorer is done by the program first making a copy of the files that need to be copied. Then the CD is burned. I will show you here – based on my own CD-burner – how it can be done.

    1.      I put a blank blank CD-R in the drive. The idea is that I now will make a copy of a folder with files.

    2.      I open Windows Explorer, and find the folder. I right click on it and select Copy to CD or Device:


    4.      Then the copying starts – which is not the same as the burning:

    5.      When the files are copied I select the CD-RW-drive in Windows Explorer and choose Files à Write these files to cd:


    6.      Then a guide starts, where I first have to label the CD:


    7.      Finally the files are written to the CD.

    Figure 68. You can burn CDs directly from Windows XP.

    Other possibilities

    There are many other possibilities with a CD drive. Let me mention a couple here.

    When you have a burner, you can drag files from a folder directly to a CD-RW. That is quite smart – but besides the RW-disks can be used directly as a ”diskette” to backup copying etc.

    You can rip music-CDs. This means that the music copied to very small (compressed) files. It is not always legal, but many do it, and it just requires an ordinary CD-drive.

    The most widespread format is MP3, which is clearly to prefer, but Windows Media Player does not support that directly. In stead Microsoft has made their own format called WMA. As a minimum you need to choose the quality 128 kbps to get an acceptable sound quality. Then you can press music from 10-12 CDs on to a single CD-disk. See the menu item Tools --> Options (as in Figure 69) in Windows Media Player.

    You can also buy plug-ins on the Internet, which enable Windows Media Player to rip music to the MP3-format, and I recommend that since MP3 is by far the most flexible format.

    Figure 69. Setting the quality when copying music.

    The music copying in itself is quite simple. You open Windows Media Player and click on the button Copy to CD or Device. Then you select the titles from your music CD.

    If you want to see the name of the artist and title of each piece of music, you need to click on Get names[n24] . But it requires an Internet connection; since the program can retrieve information about the particular music CD. But I have not done that here, where Windows Media Player is ”ripping” a CD:

    Figure 70. Copying of music from CD.

    Depending on where you live, be aware that you may not legally copy just any music CD. Check the laws in your area before you start. You can read more about the multimedia tools in Windows XP on page 81.

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