The differences between Windows95 and Windows 98 in Dial-Up Networking.

Windows95 and Windows98 look just the same in Dial-Up Networking, but there are significant differences. Treating Windows98 like Windows95 can cause some strange, unexpected, seemingly impossible problems with Windows98.

When Windows95 was designed, it was expected that most people using them on a network would be connected to a LAN, or Local Area Network. If they were using Dial-Up Networking, it was to connect to such a LAN from a remote location. Thus, when you install Dial-Up Adapter in Network Control Panel, Windows95 brings in the protocols most likely to be used on a LAN --- IPX/SPX Compatible Protocol and NETBEUI. Of course, none of this is used on the Internet. Instead, you need to install TCP/IP and remove the above two protocols. In order to Save Passwords in a dial-up connection, Client for Microsoft Networks must also be installed. When it comes in, it puts Network Neighborhood on your desktop, so that you can share files with other computers in your workgroup. Naturally, this is less than useful on the Internet. Alas, there is no easy way to remove it without also turning off the ability to save passwords.

Windows98 builds on people's experience, and actual use of Dial-Up Networking. Now, it's presumed that if you're using Dial-Up Adapter, it's for the Internet, and TCP/IP is brought in, as most people need. Microsoft also supplies something called "Microsoft Family Logon," which is designed for Internet use. Unlike Client for Microsoft Networks, it does not bring in Network Neighborhood.

If your computer is on a LAN, and you're configuring it for the Internet, you probably have the right client installed. If your computer is a stand-alone computer, (not connected to other computers except the Internet) you can use either client, but Microsoft Family Logon is better, because it's designed with your situation in mind. The important thing is, don't have both.

Many people like to have a shortcut to their dial-up connection on their desktop as a convenience. In Windows95, this is straight-forward. Simply drag the connection out to your desktop, and let go. Windows may tell you that it can't move or copy the connection there and ask if you want to create a shortcut. Click on Yes. If it doesn't ask, don't worry, it's done the right thing.

You can also create a shortcut this way in Windows98, but it doesn't give you what you think it does. What you actually get is a little text file, with the extension of DUN; e.g.., Internet.dun. This is exactly equivalent to an initialization, or ini file, and can be examined or edited in Notepad. You can copy this file to a floppy, take it to another computer, drop it into Dial-Up Networking and create a new, already-configured connection. Neat!

Alas, there's one, very important drawback to this: any changes made to the original connection are not reflected in the dun file. This can cause numerous weird problems. Let's say your connection wasn't configured right when you made the shortcut. Later, after finding out that things don't work right, you reconfigure the connection in Dial-Up Networking. You log on by opening up the connection directly, and test it. Everything's fine. Alas, when you open your shortcut and dial, you're back where you started. To make the changes take effect in the shortcut, you must delete it and create a new one.

Microsoft did, however, provide a way to create a shortcut to a connection that works the way you expect: drag the connection to the desktop using the Right mouse button, not the Left. When you release the mouse, you get a menu. The bottom item is Create Shortcut Here. Click on this. You now have a proper shortcut, that does exactly what you want. If you ever change the original connection, the shortcut uses the new configuration.

Consider here, that Microsoft, as expected, did things exactly backwards. If you use the natural, normal method of creating a shortcut, you get something you really don't need or want. Only by creating it in the odd, abnormal way do you get what you need. I can't help but wonder why this was done this way, but it seems typical of Microsoft's design philosophy. I suppose I really shouldn't complain, though. If Microsoft didn't make a habit of making people do simple tasks in obscure, unintuitive ways, I'd probably be out of a job.

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