Navigating Windows Vista Networking Features
The networking features in Microsoft Windows Vista are different from those in earlier releases of Windows. Windows Vista has a new suite of networking tools, including:
- Network Explorer Provides a central console for browsing computers and devices on the network
- Network And Sharing Center Provides a central console for viewing and managing a computer's networking and sharing configuration
- Network Map Provides a visual map of the network that depicts how computers and devices are connected
- Network Diagnostics Provides automated diagnostics to help diagnose and resolve networking problems
Before discussing how these networking tools are used, we must first look at the Windows Vista features on which these tools rely, including:
- Network Discovery A feature of Windows Vista that controls the ability to see other computers and devices
- Network Awareness A feature of Windows Vista that reports changes in network connectivity and configuration
Understanding Network Discovery and Network Categories
The network discovery settings of the computer you are working with determine the computers and devices you can browse or view in Windows Vista networking tools. Discovery settings work in conjunction with a computer's Windows Firewall to either block or allow:
- Discovery of network computers and devices
- Discovery of your computer by others
Network discovery settings are meant to provide the appropriate level of security for each of the various categories of networks to which a computer can connect. Three categories of networks are defined:
- Domain Network Intended as a designation for a network in which computers are connected to the corporate domain to which they are joined. By default, discovery and file sharing are allowed on a domain network, which reduces restrictions and permits computers on the domain network to discover other computers and devices on that network and share files.
- Private Network Intended as a designation for a network in which computers are configured as members of a workgroup and are not connected directly to the public Internet. By default, discovery and file sharing are allowed on a private network, which reduces restrictions and permits computers on the private network to discover other computers and devices on that network and to share files.
- Public Network Intended as a designation for a network in a public place, such as a coffee shop or airport, rather than for an internal network. By default, discovery and file sharing are blocked on a public network, which enhances security by preventing computers on the public network from discovering other computers and devices on that network. Files and printers that you have shared from this computer cannot be accessed from the network. Additionally, some programs might not be able to access the network.
Because a computer saves settings separately for each category of network, different block and allow settings can be used for each network category. The first time you connect your computer to a network, you'll see a dialog box that allows you to specify whether you are at home, at work, or in a public location. Your selection sets the network category. After that, if you change your network connection or connect to a new network, Windows Vista will try to determine the network category automatically. If Windows Vista is unable to determine the network category, it uses the public network category. If you join a computer to a domain, the private network to which the computer is connected changes to a domain network.
Based on the network category, Windows Vista automatically configures settings that either turn discovery on or off. The On (Enabled) state means:
- The computer can discover other computers and devices on the network.
- Other computers on the network can discover the computer.
The Off (Disabled) state means:
- The computer cannot discover other computers and devices on the network.
- Other computers on the network cannot discover the computer.
In this tutorial:
- Vista Configuring and Troubleshooting TCP/IP Networking
- Navigating Windows Vista Networking Features
- Working with Network Explorer
- Working with Network And Sharing Center
- Working with Network Map
- Installing Networking Components
- Installing Networking Services (TCP/IP)
- Configuring Local Area Connections
- Using the PING Command to Check an Address
- Configuring Dynamic IP Addresses and Alternate IP Addressing
- Configuring Multiple Gateways
- Configuring DNS Resolution
- Configuring WINS Resolution
- Managing Local Area Connections
- Viewing Network Configuration Information
- Troubleshooting and Testing Network Settings
- Performing Basic Network Tests
- Resolving IP Addressing Problems
- Releasing and Renewing DHCP Settings
- Registering and Flushing DNS