A+ Certification / Beginners

Microsoft Management Console

One common complaint about earlier version of Windows was that you had to use a different management tool for every task. For example, Windows NT 4.0 has tools for managing users or computers in a network domain and locally on the computer, tools for managing performance, and tools for managing disks and disk partitions. With Windows 2000, Microsoft took steps to consolidate these disparate tools; their solution was the Microsoft Management Console (MMC).

The MMC is a framework into which other tools, or snap-ins, can be loaded. All of the items that you see in your Administrative Tools folder represent MMC sessions configured with preset snap-ins. To see the raw interface, run mmc.exe from the Run command or from the command line.

Taskbar and Notification Area

To let you keep an eye on what programs are running on your computer and to allow you to switch quickly between running programs, Microsoft created the Taskbar. The Taskbar is movable, but by default it is at the bottom of your desktop. One end of it has the Start menu, the other end has the System Tray, or Systray, and the space in between is made up of tiles representing all of the current running applications. Starting with Windows XP, Microsoft calls the System Tray the Notification Area. If you find an empty area of the Taskbar, you can right-click and choose Properties. You will be able to modify settings for both the Taskbar and the Notification Area, such as auto-hiding the Taskbar, displaying the Quick Launch toolbar, grouping buttons, showing the clock, and hiding inactive icons.

Start menu

If all of the items on your desktop were missing, then you would still be able to accomplish all that you need to do by using the Start menu. The Windows 2000 Start menu was always very functional, but Windows XP introduced enhancements that put more resources, like My Computer, My Documents, and My Network Places, right at your fingertips.

The Start menu, like its name suggests, can be used to start most of the applications that are installed on your computer. Contrary to its name, you can also use it to shut down your computer and stop everything.

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