What's New in Windows 2000 Pro

The big news about Windows 2000 Professional—as compared to Windows NT 4 Workstation—is how much better it is at recognizing hardware and at running on laptops. This is especially good news when you bear in mind that Windows 2000 Pro hasn't lost a step when it comes to reliability and stability.

Anyone who has used Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, or Windows NT 4 will find much that's familiar in Windows 2000. The basic look and feel are quite similar; in fact, plenty of people describe Windows 2000 as a marriage of Windows 98's look with Windows NT's networking and reliability features.

A large part of learning Windows 2000 Professional is simply discovering the new names and locations for old functions. This section briefly reviews, for people who are used to Windows NT, the features that have changed and new features.

Changes on the Desktop

When you log on to a Windows 2000 Pro computer, the desktop may seem familiar, but there are both cosmetic and functional changes.

Customizable toolbars

As described in Chapter 4, you can now create your own toolbars (short strips on the Taskbar that house the icons of programs, documents, disks, and folders you use frequently). The Quick Launch toolbar is especially useful; you can install any icon onto it just by dragging it there.


My Briefcase, a default presence on the desktop of Windows NT 4.0, no longer appears until you right-click the desktop and choose NewBriefcase from the shortcut menu. Windows creates a briefcase on the desktop.

If you are a happy user of Briefcase, you'll be glad to know that it works exactly as it always did (see page 325). If you tried Briefcase and found it wanting, you'll probably be much happier with Offline Files, a new feature covered in Chapter 16.

DOS Prompt is now the Command Prompt

The Command Prompt (called the DOS Prompt in Windows 95, 98, and Me) has been moved to the StartAccessories menu. See Section 9.8 for more information.


You can now change the color, font, and other options for the Command Prompt by right-clicking the Command Prompt title bar and selecting Defaults from the shortcut menu. (And if you run a program that requires a different look, you can set these options for a single session by right-clicking the Command Prompt title bar and selecting Properties.)

Find is now Search

In Windows 2000, the Find function has been renamed Search, gained an Explorer-style interface, and moved to the Start menu. You can also get to it just by clicking the Search toolbar button in any desktop window; the Search controls appear instantly at the left side of the window. And searching for the words inside files can be extremely fast if you use the new Indexing Service feature. (See Chapter 3 for details on all of these features.)

My Documents is on the desktop

While the My Documents folder has been around for some time, Windows 2000 now features its icon right on the desktop. This is the folder into which most programs propose storing newly saved files. Inside is My Pictures, a new folder that many Windows programs propose for storing graphics files; its window offers some special tools for previewing, rotating, and slide-showing the pictures within.

Network Neighborhood is now My Network Places

My Network Places, the replacement for Network Neighborhood, is the desktop icon that's your portal to the shared computers, files and folders, printers, and other resources on the network to which your computer is connected. Chapters 13, 14, and 15 are all about working on a network.

To open the Network and Dial-Up Connections window, right-click My Network Places and choose Properties from the shortcut menu. (Network and Dial-up Connections is a combination of the Network control panel and the Dial-up Networking window from previous versions of Windows. You use it to configure both your network and modem connections.)

Personalized Menus

Windows 2000 uses Personalized Menus for the Start menu and its offshoots. In other words, Windows 2000 keeps track of how often you access items on the menu and arranges the menu accordingly; after you've used a menu six times, you'll discover that the most infrequently used commands have disappeared. Figure 3-17 (page 51) shows the idea.

Some people find that this feature frees them from hunting through commands that they don't use much. Others find it disconcerting that Personalized Menus makes the Start menu and other menus change frequently, making it difficult to get used to the positions of familiar items. If you're in the second category, you can turn off Personalized Menus by right-clicking the Taskbar and choosing Properties from the shortcut menu. Clear the Personalized Menus checkbox and click OK.

Start menu

The Start menu isn't new, but it has undergone some changes from Windows NT 4.0. For one thing, the logoff command is no longer on the Start menu by default. To add it, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start Settings Taskbar & Start Menu.

    The Taskbar & Start Menu Properties dialog box appears.

  2. Click the Advanced tab. Turn on Display Logoff.

    While you're on the Advanced tab, note the other additions that you can make to the Start menu: For example, you can drag shortcut icons onto the Start button to add items to the menu, drag items up and down the menu to change their order, right-click them to rename them, and so on. Chapter 3 covers the ways to customize the Start menu.

  3. Click OK to close the dialog box.

    The Log Off [Your Name] command now appears just above the StartShut Down command.

Options is now Folder Options

In Windows 2000, the Options command has been renamed Folder Options. You'll find it in the Tools menu of many windows, including My Computer, My Documents, My Network Places, Windows Explorer, Control Panel, and folders that you've created yourself. Use the Folder Options command to change the appearance of your desktop and folder windows, and specify how folders open. (More than everything you ever wanted to know about folder options fills Chapter 4.)

Windows NT Explorer is now Windows Explorer

The Windows NT Explorer is now called Windows Explorer; it's listed in the StartAccessories menu. Except for the name change, it's nearly identical to the Windows Explorer in Windows NT 4 and in Windows 98.

New Save File and Open File dialog boxes

As shown in Figure I-2, the buttons at the left side of the new Save As and Open dialog boxes (which appear when you choose FileSave As or FileOpen) give you quick access to the folders where you're most likely to want to stash newly created documents: the My Documents folder, the desktop, and so on.

Using the "Save in" drop-down menu at the top of the screen, you can choose any folder you like—or click one of the shortcut buttons at the left side.

Figure I-2. Using the "Save in" drop-down menu at the top of the screen, you can choose any folder you like—or click one of the shortcut buttons at the left side.

Changes behind the Desktop

The most dramatic changes from Windows NT 4 to Windows 2000 are on the server side. However, even experienced users of Windows NT Workstation will find (or be unable to find) some features that are quite different or in unexpected locations.

More mobile-computing features

Laptop luggers and home telecommuters are in much better shape with Windows 2000 Pro than they were with Windows NT, thanks to two new technologies: Offline Files and ACPI.

Offline Files, described on Section 14.3, helps you keep straight which versions of the files you've copied from the network to your laptop are the most recent. ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) is a set of technologies that let modern laptops extend their battery life and give you more control over their power consumption. (If your older laptop doesn't have the necessary circuitry for ACPI, Windows 2000 offers the older Advanced Power Management features described on Section 8.17.2.)

Clipboard Viewer is now ClipBook Viewer

In the beginning, Windows had a place in memory called the Clipboard. When you copied something (such as a paragraph from your word processor), that's where the something was stored, so that you could paste it into a new location. The Clipboard had room for only one something at a time; when you copied something else, the first item was overwritten. To see what was stored on the Clipboard, you opened the Clipboard Viewer. Simple enough.

Since those halcyon days, however, the Clipboard has undergone several cosmetic surgeries, with mixed results. As in Windows NT 4, Clipboard Viewer has been renamed ClipBook Viewer (and is no longer available from a menu). ClipBook Viewer still shows any information you've copied to the Clipboard. But now you can store this information permanently in a Local ClipBook and share it with other people. The Local ClipBook opens when you start ClipBook Viewer. To open ClipBook Viewer, choose StartRun, type clipbrd, then press Enter.

Computers Near Me

If your Windows 2000 Professional PC is a member of a workgroup (a small number of computers that are networked but don't require a server), a Computers Near Me icon appears inside the My Network Places window. The Computers Near Me window shows icons for the computers and other resources that are accessible by members of your workgroup. (You don't get a Computers Near Me icon when Windows 2000 is installed on a machine that is a member of a domain [a larger group of networked computers that are administered as a unit].) See Section 13.1.1 for more on Computers Near Me.

Devices is now Device Manager

The Device Manager, one of the most useful utilities of Windows 95/98/Me that wasn't included in Windows NT 4, is now part of Windows 2000; it's one of the components of the Computer Management application. To open Device Manager, right-click My Computer and select Properties from the shortcut menu, and then click the Hardware tab. (See Chapter 16 for more on Device Manager.)

Dial-up Networking

You can open the Dial-up Networking by choosing StartControl PanelNetwork and Dial-up Connections, or by right-clicking My Network Places and choosing Properties from the shortcut menu.

Unless you're logged on as an administrator (Section 17.3), some features of Network and Dial-up Connections will not be available. Setting up and using a dial-up connection is covered in Chapter 11.

Networking settings

In Windows 2000, the settings that were once in the Network control panel have been divided among three tools: System, Network and Dial-up Connections, and Device Manager, which are all in the Control Panel. This table shows you where the important tabs of the Network control panel in Windows 98 and Windows NT 4 are now found in Windows 2000.

Settings on this tab of the Windows 98 Network control panel

Or this tab in the Windows NT 4 Network control panel

Are here in Windows 2000



Network and Dial-up Connections



Network Identification tab in System

Access Control


Network and Dial-Up Connections



Network and Dial-Up Connections



Network and Dial-Up Connections



Device Manager



Network and Dial-Up Connections

Disk Administrator is now Disk Management

Disk Administrator has been renamed Disk Management. If you're technically inclined, you can use this tool to manage disks and volumes. It supports partitions, logical drives, new dynamic volumes, and remote disk management.

To open Disk Management, right-click My Computer and select Manage from the shortcut menu. In the left pane, click Storage and then Disk Management. Information on managing and configuring disks awaits in Chapter 19.

Event Viewer

The event log can be a useful way of tracking down problems on your system. Event Viewer, the program that shows you the event log, is now located in the Administrative Tools control panel. To open Event Viewer, choose StartSettingsControl Panel. Double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Event Viewer.

For help on interpreting what you see in the Event Viewer, refer to Chapter 19.

System Information

The System Information program displays technical information about your computer's configuration. To open it, right-click My Computer and choose Manage from the shortcut menu. In the left pane, click System Tools and then System Information.


In Windows NT 4, you installed and configured networking protocols (communications languages for networked computers) through the Network control panel. The procedure has changed only slightly in Windows 2000.

To install, remove, or configure TCP/IP, for example, select StartSettingsNetwork and Dial-up Connections. Right-click the icon for your connection and choose Properties from the shortcut menu. There's more on configuring TCP/IP in Chapter 15, which is about setting up your own network.

User Manager is now Local Users and Groups

In Windows 2000, the User Manager program has been renamed Local Users and Groups and moved into the Computer Management tool. To view and edit your settings, right-click My Computer and select Manage from the shortcut menu.

New hardware standards

Windows 2000 comes ready to recognize new kinds of add-on gadgets and connectors, including USB, FireWire (IEEE 1394), DVD, and Zip drives.


The Windows 2000 installer gives you the new DVD Player program only if your PC has a DVD drive. To launch DVD Player, just insert a DVD disc. (You can also choose StartProgramsAccessoriesEntertainmentDVD Player.) You'll see a standard set of controls, such as Play, Stop, and Fast Forward, as well as an Options button that lets you change languages or set up parental controls.

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