Windows 2000 - Connecting to a workgroup

I am now working with the release version of Windows 2000, after spending three months looking at beta versions, so it would be remiss of me not to explain the basics of networking and the user security features of the new operating system.

In this exercise I will be connecting my Windows 2000-based system to a Windows 98-based network we have set up in the Test Centre. The Windows 98 machine used a standard 10/100 switchable PCI Ethernet adapter, and an identical card needed to be placed in the Windows 2000 box.

I removed the cover from our Peripherals Plus 550Mhz Athlon test platform, and gently inserted the card into one of the free PCI slots. Upon booting up the system I expected at least one message telling me that the system had found new hardware, but Windows 2000 found the adapter and installed it automatically. This was perhaps the most user-friendly installation of a piece of hardware that I have ever experienced - with absolutely no user interaction required.

The computer should then be physically connected to your network via the interface on the back of your newly installed card. In my case, using RJ45 connectors, I connected one end of my cable to the Ethernet card and the other end to an eight-port hub. A hub is simply a little device which can connect many computers (in our case, eight) and transfer data between them.

The next step should be to check all of your network settings and determine if your connections work. You need to make sure that your computer has all the correct identification details. Right-click on My Computer and click on the Network Identification tab. When you click on the Network ID button, a wizard pops up to take you through this process. The first question asks you whether your computer will be used in a home environment or be part of a business network. Select "This computer is part of a business network, and I use it to connect to other computers at work", and click Next. At this point the wizard asks you if your computer will be connected to a domain and warns you about the information that you will need to join the domain. A domain is basically a group of computers, which are identified by the same name. Your system administrator will be able to give you all the necessary details such as your username, password and domain name. In our exercise, we will not be using a domain, so select "My company uses a network without a domain" and proceed to the next screen. Enter the name of your workgroup and be prepared to restart your computer when prompted.

After the system has restarted, log onto it as you would normally (with administrator privileges) and check to see if your attempt to join a network has been successful. Double-click on the My Network Places icon found on the desktop and double-click Computers Near Me. If all went well you should be able to see all the other computers on your network.

The next step is to make sure we can access the data on the Windows 2000 machine from the Windows 98 machine. To do this we must add the Windows 98 user details into our Windows 2000 system and enable file sharing. The user we wish to add from the Windows 98 machine is called PCWorld2. We do this by going to the Control Panel, double-clicking Users and Passwords and clicking on Add. After entering the name of the user and setting the password, I need to determine PCWorld2's level of access. As I would like total access from the Windows 98 machine, I give PCWorld2 administrator access by selecting Other, Administrators and finally clicking on Finish.

Sharing files is accomplished by right-clicking on a drive or folder, and selecting sharing.... Click on New Share, and select an identifiable name for the shared resource. A little hand should now appear on the bottom of the icon and this drive or folder should now be accessible from the Windows 98 machine.

This is just a small introduction into how Windows 2000 computers can be connected to an existing network, and is just a small part of a very broad and complex aspect of networking. Next month I will talk more about adding new users to your networked PC and explaining the various privileges you can give them.

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