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  The Beginning   

So, now you've purchased your laptop or PC and want to set it up.  Now-a-days setting up your system is fairly easy since desktop PC makers have started color-coding the cables and the ports the cables plug into.  Also, most everything you need to begin using your computer comes installed so you're ready to go right out of the box.

LaptopOnce you get your laptop home/delivered, unpack it and take all the tape and plastic stuff off.  Take your manuals out of the box and use them for reference or go ahead and put them in a safe place with the rest of your computer stuff.
Next, plug the power cord into a wall socket and connect the other end to your laptop.  Push the power on button and when the computer starts Windows will walk you through a setup and activation process.  Once you've answered each question, click the Continue (or Next) button.  When you've finished, the laptop is ready for use.

There is a bit more work involved in setting up a desktop computer.  While a laptop only requires the power connection for set up, a desktop requires the power, mouse, keyboard, and monitor to be connected.  The first thing you should do is figure out where you're going to put your new PC.  Whether you already have a place or you purchase something, make sure that space is clean and ready for your new PC before you unpack it.
Your new PC will likely come to you in (at least) two boxes.  Unpack the parts and set aside any manuals or disks in a safe place so they don't get thrown away.  (Although you may want to use the Quick Setup Guide as a reference while you set up.)  Take off any plastic, tape and wire ties.  Set the parts up where you want them on your desk making sure the the cables for the monitor, mouse, and keyboard will easily reach the back of your computer. 
Desktop ComputerOnce everything is in place, plug the monitor, mouse, keyboard, speakers (if you have them), printer (if you have one), Ethernet or phone cable (if you use either one for internet), and power cord into the back of your computer.  Pay close attention when plugging everything in.  If you try to plug something in the wrong way you could bend or break pins and render that particular device useless.  (Check out the Basic Computer Connections page in Tools & Info.)

Next plug your monitor, computer, and speakers (if you have them) into your power strip.  With your power strip off plug it into a wall socket.  Turn the strip on, push the power button on your computer and monitor, and when the computer starts up it should walk you through the setup and activation process.  Once you've answered each question, click the Continue (or Next) button.  When you've finished, the computer is ready for use.