Lesson 1: Managing Network Protocols and Client Network Services

When two people meet and need to communicate with each other, the first step is to determine a common language to use. When talking with friends and family members, you already know the best method to use. In the world of computers, there are several important standards that are commonly used to enable computers to communicate. By far, the most popular network protocol in the world is Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). This protocol is the standard that is used on the public Internet, and it is the primary method of setting up network connections in wired and wireless homes and small businesses.

Customers expect you, as a Consumer Support Technician, to be able to explain to them the various standards and protocols that are available for communications. Furthermore, you need to be familiar with how you can set up and configure appropriate settings in Windows Vista, based on their requirements. In this lesson, you’ll learn about networking improvements in Windows Vista, along with important protocols and settings. You’ll also learn how to configure and troubleshoot network connections. Because all of the information in this lesson focuses on network protocols and services, it applies equally to both wired and wireless connections. Examples and exercises, however, are based on the use of wired network connections. In Lesson 2, you’ll learn about information specific to setting up and managing wireless network connections.

After this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Describe new features in the Windows Vista Next Generation TCP/IP Stack.
  • List configuration information related to the IPv4 protocol, including IP address, subnet mask, default gateway, and DNS servers.
  • Describe the benefits of the IPv6 protocol.
  • Describe and manage DNS and DHCP settings on client computers running Windows Vista.
  • Create and manage network connections using the Network And Sharing Center.
  • Troubleshoot network connections.

Estimated lesson time: 60 minutes

Understanding the Next Generation TCP/IP Stack

Most operating system users rely on the ability to access public networks (such as the Inter-net) and to communicate with other computers in homes and offices. Because networking is such a critical part of common operations, Windows Vista includes numerous enhancements to the primary networking features of the operating system. The foundation of this functionality is the networking stack, a set of interrelated components that enable communication on the network.

As mentioned earlier, the most commonly used networking protocol is TCP/IP. Windows Vista includes a feature called the Next Generation TCP/IP stack. This term refers to a collection of technologies embedded in the core networking architecture of the operating system. All network-enabled applications, services, and features rely on this stack in one way or another. Although previous versions of Microsoft Windows include support for TCP/IP, Windows Vista includes numerous enhancements, including the following:

  • Automatic configuration One of the most difficult parts of setting up a new computer (especially for novice users and customers) is configuring network settings. Microsoft designed Windows Vista to perform configuration options automatically wherever possible to avoid end-user confusion.
  • Performance enhancements New TCP/IP components have been designed to support enhanced features that enable more efficient transfer of data based on a variety of different network conditions.
  • Extensibility The Next Generation TCP/IP stack has been designed with the ability to add enhancements and new functionality in mind. Components of the network stack are segmented into logical divisions, making it easier for vendors and software developers to install updates.
  • Dynamic reconfiguration Especially on modern notebook and portable computers, it’s common to connect and reconnect frequently to various networks throughout the day. Microsoft designed the Windows Vista network stack to adapt to various configuration environments without requiring a reboot of the operating system.
  • Diagnostic features Due to the complexity of network configuration, it’s possible for various problems to prevent users from successfully connecting to other computers or to the Internet. When these problems occur, it can often be difficult to pinpoint the true source of the problem. The Windows Vista network stack includes diagnostic capabilities that can make it easier to diagnose and troubleshoot common problems.
  • Improved security With the ability to connect to computers located around the world over the Internet come some potential security risks. Problems such as malware and malicious users can cause downtime, reduced performance, data loss, and security violations. The Next Generation TCP/IP stack has been designed to protect against common types of network-based attacks.
  • Support for multiple versions of the Internet Protocol (IP) The networking features in Windows Vista enable support for current and future networking technologies based on the TCP/IP standard. Specifically, it provides support for both Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) and IP version 6 (IPv6), both of which you’ll learn about in the next section. It also provides features to ease the transition between the protocols.

For the most part, all of these features work automatically whenever you create network connections. In typical use, you rarely have a reason to make modifications directly to the network stack. Now that you have an idea of the purpose and function of the basic network foundation, you can look at the different available protocols.

Understanding IPv4

The purpose of a network protocol is to specify the communications format and conventions that computers use when two or more networked devices need to send messages to each other. As mentioned earlier, Windows Vista supports two major protocol types: IPv4 and IPv6. In this section, you’ll learn about the details of configuring IPv4. Specifically, you’ll learn about the following settings:

  • IP address
  • Subnet mask
  • Default gateway
  • DNS server addresses

Exam Tip

Although network protocols other than TCP/IP are available, they’re outside the scope of Exam 70-623 and the contents of this book. When taking the exam, you can safely assume that computers are configured to use TCP/IP. Keep in mind, however, that they might not be configured correctly, and you might need to determine how to resolve connection problems.

IP Addresses

By far, the most common version of IP in use at the time of the release of Windows Vista is IPv4 (usually pronounced “IP version 4”). This protocol is a portion of the TCP/IP standard that computers use to communicate on a local area network (LAN) and on the public Internet. A fundamental feature of networking is that each computer on a network must have a unique network address. IPv4 network addresses use a series of four numbers separated by dots. Each number must be between 0 and 254 (inclusive). The following are some examples of IP addresses:



In some network environments, it’s common for administrators to divide networks into smaller sections known as subnets. To identify which portion of the IP address refers to the network and which portion refers to the computer’s address, computers use a subnet mask. Examples of commonly used subnet masks include the following:


Designing and calculating subnet details is beyond the scope of Exam 70-623, but it is important to understand that, in general, all of the computers that are required to be able to communicate with each other should be located on the same subnet. This means that they should all share the same subnet mask. Also, each computer should have a unique network address that is part of the same subnet. For example, the following computers will all be able to communicate with each other (assuming that other network settings are properly configured):

  • /
  • /
  • /

Note that in these examples, all of the subnet masks are identical, and each computer’s host address is unique and located on the same subnet.

Default Gateways

Because you can place computers on separate isolated networks, it is often necessary for them to be able to communicate with each other. For example, if you launch Microsoft Internet Explorer and attempt to connect to , the specific computers that you are trying to access are obviously not located on your subnet. Your computer must then determine how to access that particular Web site.

This is the purpose of the default gateway setting. The default gateway is an IP address value that specifies the network address to which your computer sends all traffic if the traffic is not destined for the local subnet. For most home and small-business users, the default gateway address is the IP address of the router. A computer can use information from its own IP address and subnet mask together to determine whether a requested resource is on another network. If it is, the computer sends the network request to the default gateway. It is then the default gateway’s responsibility to route the packets to another network to enable communications. For example, the infrastructure of the Internet is based on a large group of network devices that have the ability to send traffic to each other.

A valid default gateway address must be located on the same subnet as the computer that plans to use it. Typically, the default gateway is an Internet router when used in a home or small-business environment. This device is able to take network requests from computers on the LAN and forward them to other network devices on the Internet.

Managing IPv4 Settings

In most network environments, IP addresses, subnet masks, and default gateway settings are automatically assigned. For example, you can configure most home Internet routers to assign appropriate values automatically for computers on the network. The benefit is that users typically do not need to be concerned with managing the settings manually. You’ll learn about how this is done later in this lesson.

Exam Tip

If you’re relatively new to managing networking settings, you have probably noticed that there is a lot of information to know. You might be wondering how important it is to understand the underlying technical details of network protocols. In general, Windows Vista is designed to configure network settings whenever possible. However, when configuration or connection problems occur, it can be very useful to have a solid understanding of the actual communications mechanisms themselves. As with most technical topics, practicing common troubleshooting tasks can help you learn this information quickly and easily. If you’ve seen a particular networking problem before, you’ll be well prepared to answer network-related questions when taking Exam 70-623.

Understanding IPv6

A newer version of the IP standard, IPv6, has been created to improve network-based communications. Although IPv4 has been able to adapt to widespread use throughout the Internet, it was never designed to support many millions of different types of devices. There are numerous limitations of the protocol, and it will eventually need to be replaced. Windows Vista includes full support for the IPv6 protocol, but it is important to note that the transition to the new version requires upgrades to all areas of networks and to the Internet before it is complete, a process that is expected to take many years.

MORE INFO What happened to IPv5?

IP standards are defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). This organization reviews submissions and ideas for future versions of network protocols, including IPv4 and IPv6. The standards themselves are named Request for Comments (RFC). You might wonder why there is little mention of the version that should come in between those. Initially, IPv5 was intended to be a new network protocol, but it was never made a widespread standard. For all practical purposes, IPv6 is the successor to IPv4. Although you won’t be tested on these details on the exam, you can get more background information from the IETF Web site at .

The primary advantages of IPv6 include the following:

  • Support for more addresses The total number of possible IPv6 addresses is enough to accommodate all of the network devices in the world for the foreseeable future. This expanded capacity allows literally every device in the world to have its own unique network address.
  • Simplified configuration Numerous network techniques are required to make IPv4 networks meet the needs of large networks such as the Internet. IPv6 simplifies the process of addressing devices and determining subnets.
  • Performance enhancements IPv6 includes features that enable it to adapt to a wide variety of different types of networks and workloads. It can automatically adjust the size of network packets and other settings to improve performance.
  • Security improvements A fundamental concern when transferring information over large networks is ensuring security. Only authorized computers should be able to access information during transit. To achieve the necessary encryption and authentication support, IPv6 includes a feature known as IPSecurity (IPSec).

The primary issue with using IPv6 is that computers and network devices must support this protocol to gain these advantages. In addition, operating system tools and software applications might need updates to use the newer version of the protocol. For these reasons, full-scale upgrades to IPv6 (especially on the public Internet) will take several years.

Understanding IPv6 Support in Windows Vista

Microsoft included full support for the IPv6 standard as part of the Windows Vista Next Generation TCP/IP stack. In addition to providing support for the newer version of IP, the stack is able to provide support for IPv4 at the same time. Therefore, a single computer can use IPv6 to communicate with computers that support it (such as other computers running Windows Vista) and use IPv4 to communicate with other computers and devices. Microsoft also provides support for the IPv6 protocol in Windows XP Service Pack 1 and in Microsoft Windows Server 2003. All future versions of the Windows client and server operating systems will support the protocol.

Although supporting IPv6 is an important feature, most of the network-related tools and application features of Windows Vista have been designed to work with the new protocol. For example, the Windows Vista networking features include graphical tools for configuring IPv6 details. You’ll learn about specific examples later in this lesson.

Real World

Anil Desai

When IPv4 was initially developed (decades ago), it was not designed to sustain a worldwide network in which millions of computers require access. Through a variety of different technologies such as Network Address Translation (NAT), network administrators have been able to overcome some of these challenges. However, security, performance, and scalability needs are important considerations for moving forward.

The IPv6 protocol provides solutions to many of these problems, but it will not be a quick migration from IPv4. The primary reason for this is that many types of network devices and their interdependencies must be considered. The Windows Vista operating system is one example. Microsoft included full support for both the older and newer versions of IP in Windows Vista. Overall, however, Internet service providers (ISPs) and managers of networks throughout the world will need either to support IPv6 or implement methods to enable backward compatibility.

How does all of this affect you, as a Consumer Support Technician? First, you’re likely to hear questions from customers about support for IPv6. The good news is that, for the most part, the default settings in Windows Vista are the most appropriate. It uses IPv4 when necessary and IPv6 when possible. In the future, however, it is important to keep an eye on the transition to IPv6 and to understand when new IPv6-enabled products are introduced. For recent updates, see the Microsoft IPv6 Web site at .

Understanding IPv6 Addresses

IPv6 network addresses appear significantly more complicated than their IPv4 counterparts. The primary reason for this is that each network address must be unique, and a greater number of character combinations are required to make this possible. An example of an IPv6 network address is 2001:0:4136:e37a:2074:22b5:f5f5:ff99. Note that colons separate portions of the address. For most users, IPv6 network addresses and settings are configured automatically, and there is no need to configure them manually.

Exam Tip

The technical details of how IPv6 works can be complicated. For the sake of Exam 70-623, it’s most important to understand the purpose and function of this protocol, along with how you can configure network settings in Windows Vista. For more detailed information about IPv6, see the Microsoft TechNet IPv6 Web site at . Throughout the remainder of this chapter, the terms related to IP addresses focus on the IPv4 standard because this is the most commonly used version of the protocol and the one that is most emphasized on Exam 70-623.

Understanding Client Network Services

So far, you’ve learned about the basic rules for setting up network addresses for computers that are connected. In some ways, the basic rules are fairly simple: Each computer must have a unique IP address on the network and generally is located on the same subnet, which means that each computer must have the same network address as others on the same subnet. In some home and small-business environments, managing one or a few computers manually might be reasonable. However, when supporting additional computers, some automated methods for managing network services will be very helpful.

In this section, you’ll learn how several network-related features of Windows Vista can help you manage settings such as IP addresses. Later in this chapter, you’ll see how these settings can be defined when creating and managing network connections.

Exam Tip

This section and the corresponding Exam 70-623 objective that it covers mention the term client. With respect to Windows Vista, this term refers to desktop or notebook computers that are primarily used by individuals. In larger networked environments, it’s common to refer to computers as either clients or servers. Because the focus of Exam 70-623 is on supporting Windows Vista for consumers, you will generally focus on the client side of network settings. Windows Vista includes the ability to use services such as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and Domain Name System (DNS) but not to function as a server for those protocols. Keep in mind, however, that the network services described here also have server-side components that must be configured properly for these features to be available. Additionally, most home and small-business routers also include builtin DHCP and DNS features. For more information, consult the product’s documentation.


When working in networked environments, users are able to provide custom IP addresses for their environments. As mentioned earlier, each computer must have a unique IP address and must be configured with other settings such as the subnet mask and default gateway address. Most consumers find it difficult to keep track of these settings. For example, a customer might need to write down the settings, and every time a friend or family member needs to add a new computer, he or she will have to provide the correct information. If two computers are accidentally configured with the same address, one or both might be unable to communicate on the network. Add in the requirement to support a virtually limitless number of wireless computers, and it can be very time-consuming to manage IP addressing. Clearly, there’s room for improvement in this situation.

DHCP is designed to provide appropriate TCP/IP network addresses and related information automatically to computers when they first attempt to connect to a network. The process involves four main steps:

  • Discovery When a computer first initializes itself on the network, it does not have a valid network address. To obtain one, it sends a broadcast (a network message to all computers on the network) requesting an IP address.
  • Offer A DHCP server receives the broadcast request and responds by providing an IP address offer to the new computer. The specific address chosen is based on the configuration of the DHCP server’s database. Most commonly, a range of IP addresses is configured for use on the network. Other details, such as the subnet mask and the IP address of the DHCP server, are also included.
  • Request After the client receives the offer, it makes a request for the same IP address to the DHCP server. This step is required to ensure that the client actually needs to reserve the specific request. In some cases, for example, if the computer has received responses from more than one DHCP server, it might not need to make the request. Generally, DHCP clients make a request to the first DHCP server that has responded to a request.
  • Acknowledge The DHCP server receives the request from the DHCP client and records that the offered TCP/IP address is now in use on the network. This address will be unavailable for assignment to other computers until it expires.

The assignment of a DHCP address is known as a lease, and there is typically a maximum amount of time that can elapse before the lease expires. For example, a typical DHCP server setting is to allow IP address leases to last for up to eight days. As the expiration of the lease approaches, the client computer sends a request to renew the address to the DHCP server. If the DHCP server approves the request, the client can continue using the address. This method helps ensure that computers that are no longer on the network are not taking up allocated IP addresses in the DHCP server’s database.

The customers that you support as a Consumer Support Technician will generally enable DHCP services on their Internet router or other device. The specific administration methods and configuration options will vary based on the brand and model of the device, but the general process allows for enabling the DHCP server and configuring a valid range of addresses to assign. Some small business environments might include server computers that provide DHCP services. One example is Windows Server 2003, which includes a DHCP Server component. In these environments, it’s simplest to configure only a single DHCP server to be active. If two are required, you must configure each with a different set of IP addresses to avoid potential duplication. Finally, if an environment does not have any DHCP server, users need to configure IP address settings on each networked computer manually.

Domain Name System

From a networking standpoint, the concept of unique IP addresses makes a lot of sense. One can quickly look at the number and determine details about which network it is using. However, when dealing with many computers, it can be difficult to remember which computers have which network addresses. When the millions of servers that are accessible over the Inter-net are taken into account, it’s virtually impossible to keep track of the correct IP values.

Domain Name System (DNS) is designed to provide mappings between TCP/IP addresses and friendly DNS names. DNS names have multiple parts that are separated by a period (.) character. Examples of DNS addresses include the following:

  • www.microsoft.com
  • technet.microsoft.com
  • MyComputer.local

You might recognize these names as similar to what you use to connect to public Web sites. The public structure of the Internet is configured with certain top-level domain names that identify computers that you can access from anywhere in the world. Several third-party service providers are able to make changes to the addresses used in the database. Due to the number of addresses, it’s important for public DNS databases to be able to send requests to each other. When a client attempts to connect to another computer using a DNS name, the request is sent to one of the DNS servers that is configured as part of the IP addressing parameters on the client. The DNS server then attempts to resolve the requested name to its IP address by querying other DNS servers. After the IP address for the requested name is determined, it is returned to the client so that it can be used for transferring data. To improve performance, the client makes a temporary record of the address and uses it for subsequent requests.

Exam Tip

DNS is a standard on which the entire Internet is based. On the server side, there are many complexities and details that must be addressed to make this system work. For the sake of preparing for Exam 70-623, focus on troubleshooting client-side issues related to DNS. For example, a home computer might be able to connect to other computers on the local network and with an Internet router but not directly with Internet sites using a DNS address. In this case, it’s likely that the DNS server IP information is incorrect.

Overall, the use of DNS names is a vital process for connecting to computers and services that are located on the Internet. It allows users to focus on meaningful computer and server names rather than difficult-to-remember IP addresses.


If there were no other restrictions placed on network traffic, it would be easy for all computers to communicate with each other. In some cases, this might be helpful. For example, many home and small-business users have more than one computer and want to share data such as documents, photos, and videos among them. A problem arises, however, when insecure or public networks are included. For example, when connecting to the Internet, it’s helpful to be able to connect to any computer in the world through a device such as a router. However, for security and privacy reasons, you would not want unauthorized users and computers on the Internet to be able to access your private computers.

The purpose of a firewall is to divide networks by placing restrictions on communications between computers. In some cases, all traffic between two or more networks can be blocked. More commonly, most protocols are blocked while certain types of communications are allowed. For example, you can configure Windows Firewall to allow applications such as Inter-net Explorer to connect to Web sites using an outbound connection but to prevent other computers from using the same communications ports to connect to the local computer. For more details about working with the Windows Firewall feature in Windows Vista, see Chapter 7, “Using Windows Security Center.”

In a typical home or small business environment, it’s common for customers to use an Internet router or similar device that provides firewall functionality. Usually, the default settings of these devices enable computers to make outbound connections but prevent Internet-based users and computers from detecting local computers. The specific configuration steps and settings vary between devices from various brands and manufacturers, so it’s important to consult the relevant documentation when assisting customers with setting up firewalls.

Configuring Network Connections

So far, the focus of this lesson has been on learning about IP addresses and related client network services. Understanding this information is important when creating, configuring, and managing network connections in Windows Vista. Generally, if you understand the basic concepts behind network protocols, you’ll be able to make appropriate choices and resolve any issues that might arise. In this section, you’ll learn how to configure network connections in Windows Vista.

Managing Network Settings

Windows Vista includes several different ways to access network-related settings and tools. One starting point is by clicking Network And Internet in Control Panel. As shown in Figure 9-1, various tasks and operations are available. From here, users can view details about current network settings and devices and set up and manage new connections.


Figure 9-1 Viewing options in the Control Panel Network And Internet group

You configure the majority of options by using Network And Sharing Center. This utility provides a central location from which users can view details about the local network. Figure 9-2 provides an example of the default view of the Network And Sharing Center section.


Figure 9-2 Using the Network And Sharing Center to view details about network connections

MORE INFO Sharing network resources

The focus of this chapter is on creating and managing network connections to enable computers to communicate with each other. For more information about sharing network resources such as files, printers, and media, see Chapter 10, “Managing Network Sharing.”

Viewing Network Information

When managing and troubleshooting network connections, it’s often helpful to get an overview of current connections and how they’re configured. Because network connections (and their relationships) can be confusing to customers, the Network And Sharing Center offers a Network Map feature. By clicking View Full Map, users can see the relationships between various network devices and services. Figure 9-3 shows an example. If the computer is connected to multiple networks (for example, a wired network and a wireless network), a drop-down list enables the user to choose which network is shown in the map.


Figure 9-3 Viewing a network map on a desktop computer

You can view and modify information about various items in the network map by right-clicking them and viewing the list of available options. The type of network device determines which actions you can take. For example, you can access settings for a standard Windows Vista–based computer or view configuration details for a computer router or gateway device.

In addition to the Network Map feature, you can also view details about a particular network connection. The View Status link in Network And Sharing Center provides information about a particular network connection. Figure 9-4 shows an example.


Figure 9-4 Viewing status information about a wired network connection

The basic details specify whether the computer is currently connected to a network, whether the connection is enabled, how long the connection has been active, and the speed of the connection. In addition, the Activity section shows the number of bytes that have been sent by and received from the network connection. This information provides a good overview of the status of the connection.

In some cases, it can be helpful to view more details such as the specific TCP/IP configuration of the connection. You can click Details to open a dialog box that shows this information (see Figure 9-5). Specific information includes the network address, subnet mask, and information about DHCP and DNS servers. If the computer used a DHCP server to obtain the address information, details about the duration of the lease are also available.


Figure 9-5 Viewing details for a network connection

Modifying Network Settings

The vast majority of networks today run a standard set of protocols and services. In most cases, Windows Vista is able to configure the appropriate setting for a network connection automatically. In some cases, however, it might be necessary to configure settings such as the IP address, subnet mask, default gateway, and DNS servers for a computer manually. It’s most common to use a manual configuration when a DHCP server is either unavailable or not providing the correct information.

To access the properties of a network connection, open Network And Sharing Center and click View Status next to the relevant network connection. Then, click Properties (see Figure 9-6).


Figure 9-6 Viewing properties for a wired network connection

The specific list of items shown might vary based on the enabled services and protocols for the network. By default, new network connections include settings for both IPv4 and IPv6. You can uninstall or disable most of the items in the list. In general, it is recommended that you use the default options because they are required for certain types of functionality. For example, if you remove the File And Printer Sharing For Microsoft Networks feature, users will not be able to share or access files on other computers. It is also possible to install new services or protocols manually if they are required.

In addition to adding and removing services for a network connection, the primary settings that you can modify are related to the network connection and protocols. Clicking Configure in the Properties dialog box displays the details of the associated network adapter used by the connection. Most of the available properties are related to the settings for the hardware device itself. Many network adapters include advanced options that you can also modify if necessary (see Figure 9-7).


Figure 9-7 Viewing the Advanced tab of the Properties dialog box of a network adapter

Setting Network Location Details

Networked computers often have different security requirements based on the type of network to which they are connected. For example, within a typical home environment, it’s likely that computers need to share information. Because the network is usually limited to authorized users and computers, it’s safe to do this. When you connect the same computer to a public or insecure network (such as in an airport or other public place), it is recommended that you limit access to the computer. You can configure these settings by clicking Customize next to a network connection in the Network And Sharing Center. Figure 9-8 shows the typical options that are available.


Figure 9-8 Customizing network settings using the Network And Sharing Center

In addition to switching between the Public and Private options for network connection types, you can also change the name of the network. Windows Vista uses this setting to help you quickly identify the type of network that you are using. It is also possible to change the network icon. Finally, it is possible to merge or delete network connections. This option is useful when, for example, multiple network connections are defined on the computer that all use similar settings.

Manually Configuring TCP/IP Settings

The most commonly modified network connection settings are those related to the IPv4 and IPv6 network protocols. To access these settings, in the Properties dialog box for a network connection, select the appropriate protocol and click Properties. Figure 9-9 shows the properties that are available for the IPv4 protocol.


Figure 9-9 Manually configuring settings for the IPv4 protocol

By default, new network connections are designed to use DHCP for automatic assignment of settings. Using the Properties dialog box, however, you can manually specify information for several settings as follows:

  • IP Address The unique TCP/IP address of this computer
  • Subnet Mask The subnet mask that is used by all computers on the local subnet
  • Default Gateway The IP address of a router or other device that enables communications outside the local network
  • DNS Servers The IP addresses of a preferred and alternate DNS server

If DHCP is enabled, users also see an Alternate Configuration tab that enables them to define a second set of IP address information (see Figure 9-10). This information is most commonly used when you would like to leave the automatic settings to use DHCP, but you want to provide rules for which addresses should be used if a DHCP server is unavailable. The options include using an automatic private IP address (which is generated automatically by Windows Vista) or to provide specific IP address settings. This tab is also useful when a network connection is used at multiple locations. For example, if a customer uses a laptop computer at work and at home, he or she might need to assign different addresses for each environment manually.


Figure 9-10 Specifying alternate configuration options for a network connection

On the General tab of the Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) Properties dialog box, the Advanced button enables further configuration of network details. Although these settings are not common for most consumers, it is possible to configure a single network adapter to use multiple IP addresses and subnet masks and to configure multiple gateways (see Figure 9-11).


Figure 9-11 Configuring advanced TCP/IP settings for a network connection

In addition, there are advanced configuration options for DNS and Windows Internet Naming Service (WINS). Most home and small-business users use the default settings. In some business network environments, however, it might be helpful to change the default behavior of these protocols.

By default, the Properties dialog box of a network connection also includes details about the IPv6 protocol. As with IPv4 settings, the defaults are appropriate for most users. You can configure manual IPv6 addresses and other details by accessing the Properties dialog box of the protocol (see Figure 9-12).


Figure 9-12 Configuring properties of the IPv6 protocol

Another method of configuring network settings is by clicking Manage Network Connections in the Network And Sharing Center. The resulting display shows all of the available network connections on the computer and enables the user to change the settings manually. This view is similar to the one that you see in previous versions of Windows such as Windows XP and Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional.

Creating a New Network Connection

The process of creating a new network connection is simple and can be performed by starting at the Network And Sharing Center. Clicking the Set Up A Connection Or Network link launches a dialog box that enables you to select the type of connection to create (see Figure 9-13).


Figure 9-13 Setting up a new network connection by using the Network And Sharing Center

There are several different options, each of which provides a description of a typical usage scenario. For home and small-business users, the most common option is usually Connect To The Internet. The other network types include connecting to a workplace by using a virtual private network (VPN), creating a dial-up connection, or configuring a wireless router or access point. Each step of the process walks users through available options. The specific details are based on the type of network connection, whether other similar network connections have been defined, and the security requirements.

Troubleshooting Network Connections

As a Consumer Support Technician, you are likely to be asked for assistance with configuring customers’ wired and wireless network connections. Common problems include having incorrectly configured IP address settings or trying to access remote resources when a network connection is disabled. Because the process of troubleshooting these types of problems usually follows a sequence of steps, Windows Vista includes an automatic method for resolving the most common issues.

Understanding the Network Diagnostics Framework

The process of troubleshooting network-related problems can be complicated, especially for customers with limited knowledge of the technical details. One of the most common errors that a user will report is receiving a “Page cannot be displayed” error in Internet Explorer. The root cause of the problem could be one of many different issues. For example, a network cable might be unplugged, or the computer might have failed to obtain a valid IP address from a DHCP server.

Windows Vista includes the Network Diagnostics Framework (NDF) to provide a method to determine the cause of a particular network problem automatically. It can then present options for resolving the issue, such as enabling a network adapter that is disabled. Behind the scenes, the NDF functionality looks at many different details related to network settings and uses a set of steps for determining the cause and potential resolution for the issue. The specific details might vary, for example, for wired and wireless network connections. This frees users and support staff from having to check multiple configuration settings to resolve the issue.

Diagnosing and Repairing a Connection

There are several ways to start the process of automatic troubleshooting for a particular network connection. One method is to right-click the system tray icon for the network connection (if it is available) and select Diagnose And Repair. Other options are to select the Diagnose And Repair option in the Status dialog box of a network connection or to use the Diagnose And Repair link in the Network And Sharing Center. Regardless of the method used, this starts the automatic repair process (see Figure 9-14).


Figure 9-14 Automatically diagnosing and repairing a network connection

If a problem is detected, Windows Vista automatically attempts to resolve it. For example, if the computer is not currently configured with valid TCP/IP information, Windows Vista automatically attempts to release the current DHCP lease (if there is one) and obtain new IP address details. In some cases, Windows Vista might notify users that manual configuration changes might be required. Overall, the Diagnose And Repair function can help automatically resolve the most common types of connection problems without requiring expertise from users.

Using Network Troubleshooting Tools

When diagnosing and troubleshooting network connections, there are several different tools and techniques you can use to verify connectivity. In this section, you’ll learn about several of the most commonly used tools. You run all of them from a command prompt, and they can return or change configuration details. For more information about a particular command, you can type the command followed by /?.

Windows IP Configuration

The Windows IP configuration (IPCONFIG) command provides a simple way to view and modify information for a network adapter. To view network details, you can use the command without any arguments or type IPCONFIG /ALL to view complete details about the configuration of the network connection and various protocol settings (see Figure 9-15).


Figure 9-15 Viewing network configuration details by using IPCONFIG

In addition to viewing information about network connections, you can also release and renew DHCP addresses and perform DNS troubleshooting, using the IPCONFIG utility. Type IPCONFIG /? for more details on the specific command-line options.


Often, when troubleshooting network connections, you want to test whether computers are able to communicate with each other without having to share files, printers, or other objects. The PING utility is designed to send a simple TCP/IP request to a remote computer and to return the response. Figure 9-16 provides an example.

In addition to determining whether another computer is reachable, the PING command returns the amount of time it took for a response to be received. Although this information is not intended to be used for performance monitoring, it does provide an indication of the speed of the network.


Figure 9-16 Performing a PING to verify IPv4 connectivity


The NETSH command launches an interactive command-line application that enables viewing and modifying many different types of network settings. You can access the list of NETSH commands by typing ? at the NETSH prompt. Common operations include viewing and modifying settings for a particular network interface, making firewall changes, and configuring protocol settings.

Quick Check

  1. You would like to get a quick overview of the number and types of devices that are available on a customer’s home network. What is the easiest way to do this?
  2. What are the most important protocol settings related to an IPv4 connection?

Quick Check Answers

  1. The Network Map feature that is available from within the Network And Sharing Center provides a graphical overview of all of the network devices that are present in the environment.
  2. An IPv4 connection should include an IP address, a subnet mask, a default gateway, and DNS server addresses.

Practice: Configuring Network Settings

In these exercises, you will configure network settings in Windows Vista. The exercises assume that you currently have a wired network connection on a computer running Windows Vista and that you are able to access the Internet. It also assumes that you have obtained valid TCP/IP network information through a DHCP server. Internet access can be provided through a LAN, a home-based broadband router, or a direct broadband connection (using, for example, a DSL modem or cable modem). The steps in the exercise might result in temporary loss of your Internet connection.

Practice 1: Manually Configure IPv4 Settings

In this exercise, you manually configure TCP/IP settings for a computer running Windows Vista. You use the current DHCP-assigned IP address information as a basis for determining the manually assigned address for the computer.

  1. Open the Network And Sharing Center by right-clicking the system tray icon for your wired network connection and selecting Network And Sharing Center.
  2. In the Network section of the user interface, click View Status for the wired network connection on the computer.

    You see details such as the speed of the connection, the duration of the connection, and the amount of activity for the adapter.

  3. Click Details to view TCP/IP-related information for the network connection. Make a note of the following configuration settings:
    • IPv4 IP Address: ___________________
    • IPv4 Subnet Mask: ____________________
    • IPv4 Default Gateway: _________________
    • IPv4 DNS Server (primary): ______________
    • IPv4 DNS Server (secondary): ______________
  4. Click Close to close the details of the network connection.
  5. Click Properties to access information about the wired Internet connection.
  6. In the list of network components, select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4), and then click Properties.
  7. On the General tab of the Properties dialog box, choose to assign TCP/IP information by selecting the appropriate options manually. Type the information you recorded in step 3 and then click OK to save the settings.
  8. Click Close to close the network Properties dialog box, and then click Close again to return to the Network And Sharing Center.
  9. Open Internet Explorer and browse to to verify that your Internet connection is working.
  10. To return the system to its original configuration, click View Status for the wired network in the Properties dialog box of the TCP/IP connection. Access the Properties dialog box for IPv4 and specify that all information should be obtained from a DHCP server. 11. Close all open windows and close the Network And Sharing Center.

Practice 2: Diagnose and Repair a Connection

In this practice exercise, you use the automatic network diagnostics of Windows Vista to troubleshoot a common network connection issue.

  1. Right-click the system tray icon for your wired network connection and select Network And Sharing Center.
  2. Click View Status next to the item for the wired connection.
  3. Click Disable to disable the wired network adapter.
  4. Open Internet Explorer and attempt to connect to . You should receive an error page stating “Internet Explorer cannot display the Web page.”
  5. On the Internet Explorer error page, click Diagnose Connection Problems. The Windows Network Diagnostics tool analyzes the connection.
  6. The Windows Network Diagnostics dialog box shows that the network adapter is disabled. Click the relevant button to enable the network adapter. Click Close to verify the summary information.
  7. Use Internet Explorer to attempt to connect to the same Web site you used in step 4. Verify that the page loads properly.
  8. When finished, close Internet Explorer and close Network And Sharing Center.

Lesson Summary

  • Windows Vista includes the Next Generation TCP/IP stack, which provides for improved performance, better security, and support for both IPv4 and IPv6.
  • The IP address of a computer should be unique on a network.
  • The subnet mask determines which addresses are part of a network.
  • IPv6 provides a much larger range of addresses than IPv4, along with performance, security, and reliability enhancements.
  • The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is used to assign TCP/IP settings to client computers automatically.
  • The Domain Name System (DNS) is used to resolve friendly hierarchical names such as www.microsoft.com to TCP/IP addresses.
  • The Network And Sharing Center can be used to create, configure, manage, and troubleshoot network connections.
  • Additional TCP/IP troubleshooting tools include IPCONFIG, PING, and NETSH.

Lesson Review

You can use the following questions to test your knowledge of the information in Lesson 1, “Managing Network Protocols and Client Network Services.” The questions are also available on the companion CD if you prefer to review them in electronic form.

NOTE Answers

Answers to these questions and explanations of why each answer choice is correct or incorrect are located in the “Answers” section at the end of the book.

  1. You are a Consumer Support Technician assisting a home computer user with troubleshooting a network-related problem. The user reports that he can connect to other computers on his network to share files, but one computer is unable to access the Internet. Which of the following IPv4 settings is most likely misconfigured?
    1. IP address
    2. Subnet mask
    3. Default gateway
    4. Network name
  2. You are a Consumer Support Technician assisting a small-business owner with setting up a network for four Windows Vista–based computers. She would like to simplify the addition of new computers to the network and is unfamiliar with managing TCP/IP addresses. You have recommended that she purchase a network router for use in her office. Which of the following networking features will help the user meet her goal?
    1. DHCP
    2. DNS
    3. PING
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