Learn how to take control of Windows 2000

Learn how to take control of Windows 2000

By Michael Cheek

GCN Staff

It takes some drilling down to see where the new Microsoft Windows 2000 operating system diverges from its Windows 98 and NT 4.0 predecessors. Sure, it looks like Win 98 and acts like NT, but when it comes to the administrative tools, Win 2000 is all new.

Win 2000 has a tool belt'a convenient place to keep all of its management tools. The tool belt keeps the most powerful components away from ordinary users.

When power users and administrators go looking for the components, however, they will find them united in an easy interface called the Microsoft Management Console, or MMC.

Present in all versions of Windows 2000, the MMC has snap-in extensions for managing everything from storage and users to events and services.

NT 4.0 users, take note: All administrative tools are accessed only through the MMC, and that will require some relearning. An NT 4.0 user would have to:

• Launch the Event Viewer application to check logs for any alerts.

• Double-click on the Services icon to launch another application showing the services running and those available.

• Start the User Manager for Domains application to add or remove users or change their rights.

• And finally, start yet another application to manage hard drives and other storage components.

With Win 2000 this is no longer necessary, because MMC consolidates practically everything. Its .msc files can set up all the above tasks and more.

Every icon in the Administrative Tools folder of the Control Panel reaches into the MMC. They might look like NT 4.0 icons, but each is simply an .msc data file that loads into the MMC.

Users and administrators can customize their own views. Administrators can even restrict users from certain MMC functions.

Future management applications also will use the MMC, and if an application has a Web interface, any Web page can plug into the MMC. Microsoft includes several .msc files with all of the usual suspects.

Depending which Snap-in components are loaded and selected, the MMC morphs into an appropriate view. For example, Services under Win 2000 looks a lot like NT 4.0, although to help users out, Microsoft offers a more comprehensive explanation of what each service does for the OS.

Creating a custom view using MMC's Snap-ins is easy and provides quick access for often-used administrative tasks.

The Microsoft Management Console lets users or system administrators snap in a collection of tools to manage the functions of clients or servers.

Click to start

The quickest route is to click the Start button, select Run and type MMC. The screen will resemble Internet Explorer or File Manager.

Think of it as an empty tool belt. You can add whatever things you need most often.

Select Add/Remove Snap-in under the main window's Console menu. Then click the Add button to bring in some of the preconfigured snap-ins for disk defragmentation, user management, security controls or other tasks.

The MMC is where Microsoft has concentrated much of Win 2000's power. Administrators are going to love this utility combined with one specific service.'My final build of Win 2000 has a service called RunAs.

A Microsoft engineer told me his version of the operating system referred to it as Secondary Logon. Whatever name it goes by, it's quite powerful.

While visiting a client workstation, administrators can run applications using administrator's rights without forcing the user to log off or returning to the administrator's own terminal.

For example, a user calls an administrator about a problem. Upon visiting the user's workstation, the administrator determines that the user does not have rights to the file.

Say the word

Under NT 4.0 or other network operating systems, the administrator either asks the user to sign off while the needed changes are made or else returns to the administrator's terminal or even a server.

With RunAs enabled, the administrator can simply launch an application with administrator rights'giving a log-on password'and make all the changes on the spot.

Setting up the MMC as a RunAs application gives a major boost to remote accessibility.

Interestingly enough, enabling the RunAs service requires launching the Services Snap-in within MMC.

So it goes full circle.


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