MS Windows Millennium Edition: Networking Components

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Feature Overview
New Networking Features
TCP/IP Core Stack
Home Networking Wizard (HNW)
Dial-up Networking
Connection Manager
Universal Plug and Play (UPnP)
Internet connection sharing (ics)
Network Diagnostics
Infrared data Association (irda) Support
Network driver interface specification (ndis)
Networking device support
For additional Information

Feature Overview


This paper describes the networking components of the Microsoft® Windows® Millennium Edition operating system. This document is intended primarily to introduce briefly some of the new networking features and technologies in Windows Millennium Edition.


The Network Revolution

In the last ten years, the general public has witnessed and participated in the most revolutionary development in communications infrastructure ever, the World Wide Web. For decades, the Internet was mainly a tool for academic and development pursuits, primarily because of the skill and patience required to use the Internet successfully. The explosion of the Web, with its easy-to-use graphical interface and constantly growing sources of content, has changed our access to information, changed our culture, and changed our view of the world.

We live in an era where a six year-old child and a 60 year-old adult can meaningfully discuss and understand how to access information around the world through Web and computer technology. Today's public is arguably more knowledgeable about communications and the Internet than at any time in history. Software companies and developers must therefore respond with products and services that enable and extend the reach of consumers into this new world. In doing so, they must provide technologies that do not disappoint an already sophisticated public.

Windows Millennium Networking

The Microsoft® Windows® Millennium Edition (Windows Me) operating system is a direct response to the current and growing networking demands of consumers. Windows Millennium Edition includes new networking features and components for the home, as well as updates to Windows 98 Second Edition networking components.

Windows Millennium Edition is designed to allow home users to spend more time on the Internet, have more personal computers in their home share information, play music on their computers, store more pictures, spend more time playing games both locally and on the Internet, and spend less time with technical support and computer reboots.

In addition to providing the above benefits, the core networking architecture has been updated to provide better performance and stability, while enabling the vast range of new hardware and software technologies available to today's consumer.

After several years of hard work, the Windows Networking Team is pleased to introduce these new components to the public and is providing this document to better explain these enhancements and additions.

New Networking Features


For the Windows Millennium Edition release, each networking component was examined closely to find areas where the product could be improved. In some cases, existing components were updated and in many other cases, it was necessary to introduce completely new features. Each enhancement and addition serves the broad objective of meeting the growing networking needs of consumers. These needs include better, faster, and more seamless access to networks. They also include better handling of streaming video, streaming audio, and all manner of digital entertainment across a network, including gaming.

The following networking features of Windows Millennium Edition are either new or improved:

  • Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) core stack

  • Home Networking Wizard (HNW)

  • Dial-up Networking

  • Connection Manager

  • Universal Plug and Play (UPnP)

  • Internet Connection Sharing (ICS)

  • Network Diagnostics Tool

  • Infrared Data Association (IrDA) support

  • Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS)

  • Networking device support

Each feature listed above is discussed in the sections that follow.

TCP/IP Core Stack

To improve the networking experience, the Windows Millennium networking team challenged itself to provide corporate-level network reliability to the home user. In order to do this, the TCP/IP networking stack from the Windows 2000 family was ported to the code base of the consumer operating system. The result is a completely reworked and refined networking stack that provides significantly improved networking functionality as well as support for next generation capabilities.

TCP/IP Core Stack Enhancements

In order to meet the challenge of delivering corporate networking reliability to the home, the networking team had to find the core set of features that would best match consumer needs. This feature set had to include reliability, security, and compatibility with new networking technologies.

Enhancements to the TCP/IP stack in Windows Me include:

  • Media Sense. Provides intelligent method of determining whether network adapters are connected or disconnected from the network.

  • Improved performance. Boot times have been dramatically decreased while data transfer rates across a network have significantly increased (in many cases, data transfer rates are 20% faster vs. Windows 98 Second Edition).

  • Improved stability. With the Windows2000 stack ported to the consumer system for reliability, true corporate-level networking and uptime is now a reality for consumers.

  • Improved Wake-on-LAN capabilities. Provides better sensitivity to network availability.

  • New media support. Now supports new media technologies such as TCP/IP over 1394 and the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance (Home PNA) standard.

  • Improved security. Significant improvements in how the operating system handles even the newest Internet denial-of-service attacks.

  • Updated tools. Some of the more popular tools used for troubleshooting have been updated for this release, including Route.exe (for persistent route support), IPconfig/WinIPcfg (both show media connection state now), and Nbtstat.exe (contains more detailed per-adapter information).

TCP/IP Core Stack Benefits

The new TCP/IP networking stack radically improves the ability of Windows Me to meet the most demanding needs of the home user. With corporate-class networking in the home, consumers now have the reliability, stability, and improved security necessary to connect their home to the larger Internet world with confidence.

Home Networking Wizard (HNW)

During the development of all of the tools now in Windows Me, the networking team started with a basic premise: Increased sophistication in the networking stack should not translate into increased complexity in the tools used to manage these new network features. In order to simplify the management of network functionality, the Home Networking Wizard was created. By centralizing where components are configured, it is now easier to manage the home network.

Home Networking Wizard Enhancements

Now with the Home Networking Wizard, the user can manage and configure the following components in one, central location:

  • Internet Connection Sharing

  • File and Printer Sharing

  • Network Settings

The Home Networking Wizard can be run on down-level clients, providing support for non-Windows Millennium machines. A complementary feature provided by Windows Me is the Net Crawler. The Net Crawler discovers and connects to shared folders and printers on the home network, making it unnecessary for the user to go to each machine and manually configure these shared connections.

Home Networking Wizard Benefits

The Home Networking Wizard will dramatically reduce the time users spend configuring their home network. Users no longer have to configure components by going to more than one location in the operating system.

Dial-up Networking

Consumers today are demanding the ability to access information around the world, and they want this access delivered in a low-cost, reliable, and secure manner. To respond to these demands, Dial-up Networking in Windows Me has been streamlined, consolidated, and improved to better meet the needs of home users.

Dial-up Networking Enhancements

The Dial-up Networking component in Windows Me provides several enhancements while maintaining the desired features of prior releases of the operating system. The user interface has been reworked to provide all configurable parameters in one convenient location. The user interface now includes three new tabs:

  • Networking. Offers an updated list for choosing the dial-up server to dial and the connection protocol desired, whether TCP/IP, Internetwork Packet Exchange/Sequenced Packet Exchange (IPX/SPX), or NetBIOS Enhanced User Interface (NetBEUI).

  • Security. Provides the options for authentication, password encryption, data encryption and logon parameters.

  • Dialing. Includes many new features, including advanced dialing and connection control for Internet access and the dialing connectoid.

Internet Explorer is now tightly integrated with the Dial-up Networking component. With the new Autodial feature, a selection of dialing options is available when a resource is requested. The user can now choose whether Internet Explorer will always dial connections, only dial when a network connection is not present, or never dial a connection. The new Auto Connect feature automatically dials your default connection when a connectoid is used or access to a non-local resource, such as an Internet Web page, is attempted.

The Redial Settings have been significantly enhanced for better dialing control. Now when lines are busy, the user has the ability to determine the number of times to redial and how long to wait between each attempt.

New disconnect options are also available for dropping connections when bandwidth usage is low or idle. In combination, these new features allow users to start a download and leave to do other activities, knowing that the connection will be dropped after the download is complete.

Support for new technologies, including IP over IEEE 1394 (IP/1394), now make it possible to use virtual private networking (VPN) technology at incredibly fast speeds on various media within the home.

Dial-up Networking Benefits

Windows Me introduces improvements in the Dial-up Networking user interface as well as the underlying connection technology. These improvements give home users a new and powerful tool for managing their dial-up networking connections.

Connection Manager

Today's network administrators want dial-up networking to be easy to deploy, easy to manage, and cost-effective to support. To improve dial-up networking, Windows Me includes built-in support for the Connection Manager dial-up client. Using the Connection Manager Administration Kit (an optional networking component in Windows 2000 Server), network administrators can pre-configure and deploy dial-up networking connections, by means of a Connection Manager service profile, to Windows Me–based client machines.

Connection Manager Enhancements

The Windows Me version of Connection Manager is the same core component that shipped as part of Windows 2000. In addition, specific enhancements were made to improve the user experience on Windows Me, including:

  • Dial-up Networking folder integration . Connection Manager connections are now integrated and displayed as part of the Dial-up Networking folder. When users double-click on a Connection Manager connection in the Dial-up Networking folder, they now get the branded Connection Manager user interface. Accessing the dial-up connectoid properties brings up the Connection Manager service profile.

  • Better Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) integration . You can now configure a Connection Manager service profile as your default dial-up connection for ICS. When you do this, your Connection Manager service profile will automatically connect whenever anyone within your ICS home network needs Internet access.

  • Improved ISDN channel bonding. In Windows Me, Connection Manager now supports dialing multiple channels with Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) devices. This provides improved speed and performance to home users with ISDN access to the Internet.

As always, network administrators can take full advantage of the management and branding features of Connection Manager, such as customizable connect actions and managed phone books.

Note: Connection Manager requires service profiles that are created and distributed using the Connection Manager Administration Kit found in Windows 2000 Server.

Connection Manager Benefits

With the latest features of Connection Manager built-in, network administrators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can take better advantage of the Dial-up Networking feature of Windows Me. Microsoft is committed to simplifying and reducing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of deploying remote access solutions with the Windows operating systems.

Universal Plug and Play (UPnP)

Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) is an industry-wide initiative that enables seamless connectivity among self-configuring, self-describing devices. Windows Me can serve as a control point for managing UPnP devices on the network. Once UPnP is installed, discovery and control of UPnP devices is automatic. Once a UPnP device on the network is discovered, it is immediately described and enumerated in the user interface, providing easy, Web-based control.

UPnP Enhancements

There are four reasons why UPnP is one of the most important new technologies introduced with Windows Me networking:

  • Discovery. UPnP devices are automatically discovered. Plug a UPnP-enabled camera or TV into your network and your Windows Me–based machine will immediately discover it, and a balloon tip with helpful instructions and information will appear in the user interface. Discovery is the first step in UPnP networking. All UPnP devices send discovery messages to announce their presence to control points on the network.

  • Description. Each UPnP device has an associated description of the set of properties and services (including actions) it supports. Your Windows Me–based machine automatically retrieves this document after the discovery process so that it has the necessary information to manage each device.

  • Control and presentation. The discovered devices are enumerated in the My Network Places folder on your desktop. Double-clicking on the device icon opens up a Web page for controlling it. This is similar to Web browsing, except in this case you browse to your device to control it. With custom applications, it is possible to control multiple devices in the home at the same time. For instance, a home automation application might increase the temperature and start a coffee maker when an alarm clock sounds.

  • Eventing. Multiple Windows Me–based machines can act as control points in the home. It is important that device state be consistent among all control points, so any time the state of a UPnP device changes, it sends a message to all the machines running Windows Me. In this way, all control points are automatically in perfect harmony about the state of the devices on the network.

UPnP Benefits

UPnP is a new technology based on existing standards and has support from nearly 150 device vendors who are aggressively building UPnP-aware devices for the home. UPnP provides a simple yet powerful mechanism for discovering and controlling devices around the home and Windows Me is solidly positioned to make full use of these devices.

Internet connection sharing (ics)

Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) for Windows Millennium Edition allows home users to easily create private networks and connect them safely to the Internet through a single, shared connection. This component extends the functionality of ICS in Windows 98 Second Edition and includes additional features and support—all of which make connecting home networks to the Internet even easier.

ICS Enhancements

Internet Connection Sharing in Windows 98 Second Edition included many great features, specifically the ability to do Network Address Translation (NAT), assign IP addresses by means of the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) allocator, initiate demand-dial connections, and serve as a Domain Name System (DNS) proxy for Internet resource requests. Windows Me includes these basic features and many other enhancements.

In response to customer feedback, the ICS component in Windows Me now incorporates these new features:

  • Multiple subnet support. Home users can now use multiple network media standards (such as Home PNA and Ethernet) on multiple internal subnets.

  • Enhanced support for DirectPlay games. Game play over the Internet is now better, and more games are supported.

  • Enhanced support for instant messaging and streaming media.

  • New Media support. The ability to use new media devices such as wireless, Ethernet, and Home PNA has been expanded to include IP/1394 support.

  • The Home Networking Wizard. The Home Networking Wizard makes installing and configuring ICS easy.

ICS Benefits

This release of ICS improves on the already popular version of ICS released with Windows 98 Second Edition. Support for new technologies, more complex networks, and a broader range of games, together with simplified administration, promise to make ICS a standard in homes everywhere.

Network Diagnostics

The Network Diagnostics tool is one of the more recent additions to Microsoft's family of networking utilities. Its primary purpose is to help reduce the time necessary to identify and troubleshoot networking problems. By providing a simple-to-use interface and important networking tests in one location, the Network Diagnostics tool promises to reduce the amount of time users and support professionals need to resolve problems.

The Network Diagnostics tool can be run in a number of ways, all of which serve to gather the current network configuration on the user's machine. From the Start menu, you can access the tool in the following ways:

  • Click Help, select Home Networking, select Troubleshooting for Networks, and then select Using Network Diagnostics.

  • Click Run, and then enter the command line hcp://system/netdiag/logs.htm

  • Click Run, and then enter the command line %systemdrive%\windows\pchealth\helpctr\system\netdiag\logs.htm (%systemdrive% usually refers to your C: or D: drive).

Network Diagnostics Enhancements

The Network Diagnostics tool reports on the networking components of a machine, (such as modems and network adapters), and provides other vital pieces of information. It also provides ping and connectivity tests. Additionally, through the new Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) technologies in Windows Me, it exposes an interface for developers to use the ping and connectivity methods provided in their own Java or Visual Basic scripts.

Network Diagnostics Benefits

The new Network Diagnostics tool complements many of the other network troubleshooting tools available in Windows Me. Troubleshooting tools included in the operating system include IPconfig, WinIPcfg, Ping, Telnet, Nbtstat, Netstat, and others. When troubleshooting any problem where the validity of the data is in question, it is always helpful to have more than one tool to diagnose the problem. Network Diagnostics is the latest powerful tool for quickly gathering and testing the networking characteristics of a machine.

Network Diagnostics combines the effectiveness of standard troubleshooting tools and collects information that answers many of the initial questions a support professional would ask when diagnosing a network problem. It saves valuable time spent troubleshooting and gives the user a more positive experience with troubleshooting and support.

Infrared data Association (irda) Support

The Infrared Data Association (IrDA) is an independent international organization that defines standards for infrared communication between devices. Windows Me supports these standards, providing a fast and inexpensive way to connect computers together. This technology also allows Windows Me computers to transfer information back and forth between many types of infrared devices, such as IrDA–enabled printers, personal organizers and phones. Windows Me includes significant improvements to make IrDA technology more reliable and easier to use.

IrDA Support Enhancements

Consumers using infrared devices will notice how easy it is to use this new technology. For example, the infrared functionality is now automatically configured if the computer has a working infrared transmitter. The IrDA icon in the system tray is smart enough to appear only when another infrared device is brought in range. A pop-up bubble also appears, providing valuable information about the remote device and the IrDA connection.

IrDA communication in Windows Me has been improved in several key areas:

File transfers. The Wireless Link program is specially designed and integrated into Windows Explorer to provide several ways to transfer files between devices. The user may select files within the Wireless Link program itself to send to a recipient, or from Windows Explorer by either:

  1. Right-clicking on selected files and choosing the Send to Infrared Recipient option, or

  2. Selecting files and dropping them on the Wireless Link icon.

  • Security. The security of infrared communication is improved in Windows Me by requiring the user to acknowledge the acceptance of data across an IrDA connection. No unauthorized data will be copied to the receiving device unless confirmation is given.

  • Interoperability. Virtual infrared ports are also supported for interoperability with devices such as cellular phones, printers, and other computers. Virtual infrared ports support the Plug and Play standard and are installed automatically with the installation of an infrared device.

All major infrared adapters are supported and available in Windows Me without requiring third-party drivers. This includes a variety of serial infrared adapters, as well as many built-in infrared devices in most notebook computers.

IrDA Support Benefits

By redesigning the user interface and providing seamless integration of infrared technology in the operating system, Windows Me is able to provide infrared communication more intuitively and securely. A rewritten underlying stack improves the reliability of infrared communication and simplifies data transfer between computers running Windows Me and devices that support the IrDA standard.

Network driver interface specification (ndis)

The Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS) is both a software component and an interface-design specification. It is a core Windows component that manages network device drivers and their communication with network protocol stacks such as TCP/IP. The current version of NDIS is 5.0.

NDIS Enhancements

NDIS version 5.0 for Windows Me was enhanced to provide programming interface parity with NDIS version 5.0 in Windows 2000. This means that the programming interfaces that the author of a network device driver uses are the same for both of these Windows platforms.

NDIS for Windows Me now also includes enhanced reliability and support for features that were introduced in Windows 2000. NDIS for this release boasts the following enhancements:

  • 1394 support

  • Media Sense

  • Wake-on-LAN functionality

  • Improved support for intermediate drivers

  • Faster shutdown for NDIS drivers

NDIS Benefits

Having the same NDIS capability in both Windows Me and Windows 2000 allows network device vendors to create and support high-quality and high-performance products at a lower cost. This is because one device driver can support both platforms. Instead of worrying about differences between platforms, the author of network drivers can concentrate on the functionality of the driver. One of the key benefits of this strategy is the ability to use all of the NDIS miniports from Windows 2000 without having to modify them for Windows Me.

Having equivalent networking features in Windows Me and Windows 2000 provides excellent value to customers. With both platforms using the same NDIS, corporate-level networking functionality is now a reality for users at home.

Networking device support

  • The vision driving network device support in Windows Me was to maintain a strong home user focus, to simplify the home user networking experience, and to move further towards a truly legacy-free system. By establishing a single driver model for Windows 2000 and Windows Me, the networking team has made it simpler to write and support cross-platform network drivers.

Networking Device Support Enhancements

Microsoft improved the following key areas:

Quality of Network Drivers

  • Network drivers must support Windows 2000 and Windows Me.

  • Drivers written by third parties must include debugging code.

  • Network drivers must pass stringent Windows 2000 testing methods.

Legacy Cleanup

  • Eliminate all EISA- and Micro Channel Architecture (MCA)–based devices.

  • Include no new Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) network cards.

  • Remove all modems below 28.8 kilobits per second (Kbps) capability (V.34).

  • Remove all non Plug and Play methods for modem installation.

  • Remove Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI) and Token Ring adapters.

  • Remove any adapters requiring NDIS version 2 or real-mode support.

  • Remove ArcNet and FDDI support.

Quality of Modem Support

  • Meet PC99 System Design Guide requirements.

  • Provide V.90 and V.250 support.

  • Support diagnostics capabilities.

  • Drivers must support Windows Driver Model (WDM) architectures.

  • Universal Serial Bus (USB) Remote NDIS Support

  • Uses a standardized Microsoft driver for networking devices.

  • Supports USB network cards, Cable modems and Home PNA devices.

Networking Device Support Benefits

  • The Windows Me release offers clear advantages to the home user. The home networking environment now contains network drivers tested for corporate-level stability, assuring a more stable and reliable networking platform for the user.


Windows Networking Delivers

It is important to recognize that today's home computer user is arguably more sophisticated than in any other time in history. Software companies must respond with products and services that enable and extend the reach of these savvy consumers into the expanding world of technology.

The Windows Networking Team is proud to present the new networking features in Windows Millennium Edition to consumers and believes it represents an important milestone for the future. The hard work put into the networking components has resulted in new levels of reliability, security, and functionality in the Windows operating system, promising greater home user satisfaction.

For additional Information

For the latest information on Windows Millennium Edition networking, visit the following Web sites: