SAN MATEO (01/31/2000) - After years of development, Windows 2000 will officially be released by Microsoft Corp. on Feb. 17. I will certainly be writing more about Windows 2000 from now on.
Meanwhile, many businesses that still use Windows 95 or 98 -- from the largest corporations to the smallest home offices -- face a decision about whether to upgrade to Windows 2000. In many cases, the answer will be yes. But Windows 2000 is not Windows 98 with bug fixes. It's Windows NT on steroids, and taking a good course in network management is advised for anyone who isn't already trained in Windows NT.
As an example, let me describe what happened when a small branch office with four networked Windows 98 PCs upgraded one PC to the final release of Windows 2000 Professional (sent as a courtesy to beta testers).
It so happened that the upgraded PC was directly connected to the office's two shared printers: a color ink jet and a laser. After the Windows 2000 upgrade was completed, the Win98 machines could no longer print to the shared printers, although they had before without any trouble. The Win98 users saw a dialog box saying they needed to enter a password to use the resource, despite the fact that no password for the printers had been established at the Windows 2000 machine.
This problem has a simple solution, but it's daunting for a small office manager with no NT training. The manager didn't want to make each user enter passwords because the office has good physical security and all the workers are trusted. Everyone just wanted their old ease of printing back.
In case you find yourself in this situation, here are the steps to fix it.
Step 1. Log on to the Windows 2000 PC as Administrator, with your password, if any.
Step 2. Click Start, Run, then type c:\winnt\system32\compmgmt.msc to start Windows 2000's Computer Management window. (Substitute your own folder name for c:\winnt, if necessary).
Step 3. In the Computer Management window's left pane, click the plus sign to the left of "Local Users and Groups." Select the "Users" folder. In the right pane, right-click any unoccupied area, then click "New User."
Step 4. In the New User dialog box, type a generic name, such as "User." Turn off "User must change password at next logon." Turn on "User cannot change password" and "Password never expires." Click the Create button, then close the Computer Management window.
Step 5. Click Start, Settings, Printers. Select a printer, then right-click on its icon and click Properties. Click the Sharing tab, then click the Additional Drivers button. Select "Intel Windows 95 or 98" and any other types of machines that need to print to this printer. Click OK and install drivers from any CD-ROM that is requested.
Step 6. In the Properties dialog box, click the Security tab, then give the Authenticated Users group the right to print to that printer. Modify privileges of other groups at this time, as well. Click OK, then close the Printers dialog box.
Step 7. Go to the Windows 9x machines. Click Start, Find, Files Or Folders. In the c:\windows folder (and all subfolders), search for files named *.pwl.
Select them all and press Delete. Note: This step deletes old Password List files. Don't do this unless you know all the passwords that may be needed to log on.
Step 8. Click Start, Settings, Control Panel. Double-click the Network icon.
Set "Primary Network Logon" to "Windows Logon," if it isn't already. Click OK.
Step 9. In the Control Panel, double-click the Passwords icon. Click the User Profiles tab. Turn on "All users of this computer use the same preferences and desktop settings." Click OK.
Step 10. Click Start, Log Off. Click "Yes" when asked if you are sure.
Step 11. In the "Enter Windows Password" dialog box that appears, type the user name "User" with no password (and no quotes). Click OK. If asked to confirm the blank password, click OK.
Step 12. Click Start, Settings, Printers. If the printer you wish to print to is not displayed, double-click the "Add Printer" icon, then follow the instructions.
After these steps, the office was back to its old status quo. No one needed to type in passwords to boot up (except the Windows 2000 user, who must use a password), and everyone could print. Of course, your company may want a stronger policy on passwords and who can print to what.
If you know of undocumented Windows 2000 features and work-arounds, send me e-mail immediately. Use "Windows 2000" as the Subject of your message.
If you're the first to send me a tip I print, you'll get a free copy of my new book, Windows 2000 Secrets, which I co-authored with Bruce Brown and his BugNet buddies. Thanks in advance.
Brian Livingston's latest book is Windows 2000 Secrets (IDG Books). Send tips to email@example.com. He regrets that he cannot answer individual questions.