Continuing our review of Microsoft’s Windows Millennium Edition..
Another of Microsoft’s major overhauls is that of Networking,
and the addition of the Home Networking Wizard…
As we mentioned earlier in this review, the move into the 21st Century has brought with it a tremendous increase not only in the number of computers in homes today, but also an increase in the number of homes with more than one computer. Add to this the number of home based businesses starting every day and the ever growing number of companies that are recognizing that tele-commuting is a viable alternative to employees traveling to work every day, and now you are faced with an entirely new group of problems.
Having two, three or four computers at home as an example, each needing its own Internet connection, can be an expensive proposition given the cost of additional telephone lines and services today. In Windows 3.x networking wasn’t particularly easy, and while Windows 95 eased the pain somewhat, it still wasn’t easy for the uninitiated to setup a small network, let alone connect it all to the Internet. While the first edition of Windows 98 made no real networking improvements, Windows 98 Second Edition made some real strides towards making networking easier for the casual user (for lack of a better term).
With all of these changes in life styles, home networking has moved to the forefront, and Microsoft has recognized this as a necessary void to be filled. If you have two or more computers at home, you’ll really appreciate the Windows Me Home Networking Wizard and its improved Internet Connection Sharing feature. With a pair of network adapter cards and a small hub device, none of which is expensive, you can have the two computers hooked together in under half an hour. If you have just a single phone line connection to the Internet, regardless of whether its 28.8, 33.6, 56K, cable or even DSL, you’ll find the Home Networking Wizard and its improved features even more inviting. Finally, the arguments over who can connect to the Internet and when will be over! One of the better hidden features of the Wizard is its ability to automatically recognize shared resources such as printers, and it includes better support for networking hardware such as USB networking devices. For those that can tele-commute, Windows ME handles Virtual Private Networking with ease.
Let’s take a brief look at the Home Networking Wizard..
How you get to the Home Networking Wizard depends largely upon two things, whether or not there are any network devices present when Windows ME is installed, such as a network card, and/or when you install Windows ME you select a typical installation as opposed to a custom installation and then select to install the networking software components.
If there were no network devices installed when you installed Windows ME and you choose to add them or you have added network hardware and then choose to add the Windows ME network software components, clicking then selecting Help and then selecting Home Networking…
will bring up the Home Networking Wizard…
If you already have network hardware installed, the network help window will appear with an expanded version of the Home Networking Wizard.
If you were to click on Using Home Networking (the setup process), more information such as that shown below, will pop up in the framed yellow area seen above.
Obviously, to the person relatively new to the networking process, it provides a step-by-step process with which to identify what is needed, how to install it and then how to set it up. The Home Networking Wizard is a tremendous leap in the right direction. Finally the everyday user has been given a great tool to improve the use of their computers without having to bring in a technician or having the need for a degree in computer science.
Let’s take very brief look at Internet Explorer version 5.5 before moving on to the close of our review and the Multimedia improvements and the Digital Media Tools found in Windows ME!
Opening Internet Explorer 5.5, after having logged on to the Internet, is really no different than any of the previous Internet Explorer versions. Internet Explorer 5.5 is faster than previous versions, it has better built-in repair tools, but one of the more compelling reasons to have it is its “Print Preview” feature.
We opened Internet Explorer 5.5 and went to the MSN home page as we normally do…
We then clicked File and then selected Print Preview…
In nearly an instant, we were presented with a printable version of the entire page.
If you have a color printer attached to your computer, you’ll get exactly what you see! This can be extremely helpful in those situations where detailed instructions need to be printed without losing parts of the information as you normally would by using the old default Internet Explorer print button.
Let’s move on to the multimedia improvements you’ll see in Windows ME!