Windows 2000: you’ve read about it and heard about it, but now that it’s actually here, it’s time to seriously think about upgrading your good old Windows 98 machine. But it took you months to learn all the ins and outs of your last OS, months you can’t afford to waste again. Here we help you get up to speed with Windows 2000’s interface improvements quickly and efficiently.
ou know that the primary benefits of Windows 2000 over Windows 98 are that it’s more stable, far more secure and that it o ffers advanced features for businesses small and large, but your main question is more practical: how long will you need to begin using it productively and smoothly? As a Windows 98 user, you’re in luck. Just as Windows NT 4.0 brought Win N T’ s i n t e rface in line with that of Wi n d o w s 95, Windows 2000’s interface brings Wi n N T in line with Windows 98, especially Windows 98 S E. Windows 2000 supports Windows 98 interface features such as single clicking, the Active Desktop, the fully customisable taskbar and all the other must-have features you once thought you could live without. One of these is Device Manager, a truly essential component in Windows 95/98 for anyone who installs or removes hardw a re. Windows N T 4.0 doesn’t have it, but Windows 2000 does. Complementing this feature is Windows 2000’s ability to recognise hardware automatically— plug-and-play or not—when you add it


to the system. The O S even works with U S B devices (which Windows N T 4 . 0 couldn’t). But there are differences, and those are what we’ll look at here. Windows 2000 changes several elements of the Wi ndows 98 interface; some of them signif-

icantly enhance usability. Everything looks the same as Windows 98 on bootup, but dig through the Start menu and the various dialogs and you’ll quickly see d i ff e re n c e s . Note that we’ll be examining Wi n d o w s 2000 Professional here, because it’s the c l e a rest upgrade path for Windows 98 users. The interface is the same (except for advanced server and network tools) for Windows 2000 Server and Wi n d o w s 2000 Advanced Server. Note also that w e ’ re looking primarily at the interf a c e elements and how they will help you, not at everything Windows 2000 has to o ff e r.

Right click on the taskbar and then select Properties. If you’ve never bothere d to customise your taskbar pro p e r t i e s through the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog, Windows 2000 gives you a good reason to start. Even if you have, you should still visit here. You now have more control over the Start menu than ever b e f o re, and the result makes a significant diff e rence in the way you work.
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FIGURE 1: New options on the Taskbar Properties dialog change the way you work.


July 2000



FIGURE 3: Adding a new user requires some password decisions.

F rom this Properties dialog, you can set Windows 2000 to use personalised menus, the kind (introduced in Off i c e 2000) that show only the most recent and often-used commands, hiding the others beneath an arrow. In fact, if you don’t like this menu style (it’s the Windows 2000 default), this Properties dialog is the only way to turn the feature off . More significant is the dialog’s Advanced tab (Figure 1). Here you can add and remove interface elements on the Start menu—even the Favorites and Log Off choices—as well as change the behaviour of existing elements for faster access. For example, you can expand items, which makes them appear in the Start menu as cascading menus showing options in a specific folder. Expanding Control Panel, for example (see Figure 2), saves you f rom opening the Control Panel folder to get to the setting you want. Instead, you click on Start | Settings | Contro l Panel and follow the arrow to the icon you want. If you switch between printers, you’ll want to consider expanding the Printers item, too.

The Perf o rmance applet, for example, lets you monitor your system’s perf o rmance, and Services lets you start, stop or disable specific tasks that run in the b a c k g round. Computer Management is the most useful applet here, letting you adjust hardware, system information and user settings. Setting up a new user (see Figure 3) is easy in Windows 2000, but the eff e c t s a re far more significant than they are in Windows 98. Each user can be re s t r i c ted to particular folders and tasks, and this alone is a reason to try the O S. If you run a small network, or if you have two or more people sharing the same machine, Windows 2000 will let you ensure that each user’s area is private. (If you do set up a network, incidentally, you don’t need Windows 2000 Serve r. The Professional edition is perf e c t l y capable of handling small networks, and you can even install server applications such as Microsoft Internet Inform a t i o n Services.) Spend some time exploring the Computer Management folder. Treat it as your second Control Panel, in fact. It contains several of the same elements as Windows 98’s System Information panel but goes much farther.

access network settings directly from the Start |Settings menu. Network and DialUp connections are combined into one i n t e rface element in Windows 2000, a highly welcome change from Wi n d o w s 98. The idea, of course, is that a network is a network, whether you’re connected to it by network card or by phone. Another welcome feature is that Wi n d o w s 2000 to a great extent eliminates the need to reboot after changing network settings—an annoying necessity in Windows 98.

Windows 2000 adds Task Manager to the taskbar’s right click menu. This will make a small but useful diff e rence to Wi n d o w s 98 users, who had to access Task Manager through the Ctrl-Alt-Del key combination, but it will be appreciated even m o re by Windows N T 4.0 users, who had to use that combination and then select Task Manager. Windows 2000’s Task Manager also lets you monitor C P U p e rf o rmance—useful when you’re trying to det e rmine which tasks are causing which p ro b l e m s . Put together all these enhancements and you have an interface that’s advanced significantly from Windows 98 (and Windows N T 4.0 as well) but one that can be l e a rned quickly if you’re making the switch. In fact, if you’ve been stalling your move to a Windows N T system because of the diff e rences in interf a c e and hard w a re support between Wi ndows 98 and Wi ndows N T 4.0, the time to mak e the s witch has com e. You’ll get a better O S and you won’t need very long to get up to speed.

Windows 2000 expands on Windows 98’s Network Neighborhood by letting you include sites on any connected network, including Web and F T P sites. A well designed wizard helps you ad d net wor k pl aces , a nd once they’re established, you can access the remote folders and upload and downl o ad f i le s ( a m o n g o t h e r tasks). For Internet users, this be co me s u sef u l f o r F T P, and it means that the Internet is no farther away than—nor any diff e rent fro m — the locally networked P C in the next ro o m . Because of Windows 200 0’s empha si s on networking, you can

If you’ve used Windows N T, you’ll recognise some of the tools in the Control Panel’s Administrative T oo l s . T h e y p rovide a huge amount of information about your system and give you a variety of ways to make it work pre c i s e l y as you want.
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FIGURE 2: The expanding Control Panel will cascade to the applet you’re looking for. Here, both Control Panel and Network Connections have been expanded.


July 2000


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