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Using the Control Panel

If you have worked with any version of Windows since the 95 desktop, you are familiar with the types of control utilities that are provided in the Windows Control Panel. Windows Server 2008 is no different. To access utilities (applets) that provide you with control over your computer’s peripherals (and other hardware devices), installed software, and a number of other local computer and server settings, all you have to do is access the Control Panel.

To access the Control Panel’s utilities in Windows Server 2008, select the Start button and then click the Control Panel icon. The Control Panel windows will open (see Figure 3.3).

Figure 3.3. The Windows Server 2008 Control Panel.

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The Control Panel’s main window is populated by several icons that are really categories of grouped commands and features. For example, the System and Maintenance icon provides access to the System window (showing the RAM and processor speed information), Windows Update, power options, indexing options, Device Manager, and administrative tools (such as the defragmenting tool, event logs, and task scheduling). To access a set of tools, click the category icon.

The Control Panel categories are similar to those found on any system running Windows Vista. So if you have rolled out Vista-based client computers, you will already be familiar with the new look of the Control Panel.

Let’s take a look at the categories used to group the various tools. We can then take a look at some of the tools available in the Control Panel that you would typically use when configuring a server (as opposed to a client computer).

System and Maintenance

The System and Maintenance category provides quick access to system information and system tools. Much of the system information that was available from the System Properties dialog box in previous versions of Windows Server can now be reached directly from the Control Panel.

For example, you can check the RAM and processor speed of the server by clicking the View Amount of RAM and Processor Speed link. This provides the RAM and processor information and the version of Windows Server that is installed on the system (as well as the computer’s name and workgroup or network name).

The System and Maintenance Control Panel window also provides access to the automatic update settings and the power options for the system. You can open the Device Manager from the System and Maintenance window and access other tools such as the Disk Defragmenter and the Disk Management snap-in.

Security

The Security window of the Control Panel provides access to Windows Firewall settings and Windows Update (as did the System and Maintenance window). The Security window also provides access to various Internet options (Internet Explorer options) such as security settings and the management of browser add-ons.

For example, selecting Change Security Settings under Internet Options opens the Internet Properties dialog box. This dialog box can also be opened directly from Internet Explorer. You will find that there is overlap between the various command and tool groupings or categories in the Control Panel. It also includes other options for accessing these various tools; as already mentioned, Internet options related to Internet Explorer can be accessed from Internet Explorer directly.

By the Way

You will find that the Control Panel categories or grouping windows provide a lot of redundancy in terms of accessing various Windows tools and settings.

Network and Internet

The Network and Internet window of the Control Panel provides access to the Network and Sharing Center. The Network and Sharing Center provides access to the computer’s network status and sharing settings. It also enables you to connect to a network and view computers and devices on the network (we take a closer look at the Network and Sharing Center in Hour 24, “Monitoring Server Performance and Network Connections”).

The Network and Internet window also provides access to change Internet options in the Internet Properties dialog box. This window also allows you to enable the server to store remote files locally for offline access and provides access to Windows Firewall settings.

Hardware and Sound

The Hardware and Sound window of the Control Panel provides access to printer settings, the default AutoPlay settings for CD-ROM and DVD-ROM devices, and sound settings. You will also find the adjustment settings for the computer’s mouse and keyboard in the Hardware and Sound window.

The Hardware and Sound window also lets you access settings related to the screen settings such as screen resolution, and provides access to color management and dialing options for modems. As with other Control Panel windows, redundant access (redundant in the sense that you can access these tools from other Control Panel windows) is provided to tools such as the Device Manager and the power option settings.

Programs

The Programs window of the Control Panel enables you to view installed programs as well as to uninstall programs. It also makes it easy for you to turn Windows features on and off.

This window also enables you to set the default program for file types (the program that should open files of a certain type), as well as run the Program Compatibility Wizard, which is used if you want to attempt to install older (legacy) programs in Windows Server 2008. Programs that you install that contain their own utilities also typically install a set of icons in this Control Panel window for easy access.

User Accounts

The User Accounts window of the Control Panel enables you to add, edit, or delete local user accounts on the server. You can change account pictures and change your Windows password.

The User Accounts window also provides access to turn on the servers Guest account. In most cases, you don’t use this account because you typically add local accounts that provide users varying degrees of access. Local user accounts are covered later in this hour in the section, “Managing Local User Accounts and Groups.”

Appearance and Personalization

The Appearance and Personalization window of the Control Panel enables you to configure the various settings related to the overall look of Windows, including the desktop background, screen colors, and the Windows desktop theme. You can also access settings related to the Start menu and the taskbar.

This window also enables you to install and remove fonts and set folder options. The Ease of Access Center in the Appearance and Personalization window is where you can configure Windows to accommodate users with low vision by altering settings related to the screen contrast.

Clock, Language, and Region

The Clock, Language, and Region window of the Control Panel provides settings related to the clock and the installation of additional languages. You can set the time and date and you can change the time zone.

The window enables you to create additional clocks for different time zones. You can also install and uninstall screen languages as needed from this Control Panel window.

Ease of Access

The Ease of Access Center window enables you to optimize the Windows screen settings. Windows can actually optimize the visual display, based on your answers to a series of questions.

The Ease of Access Center also allows you to change mouse and keyboard settings. Sounds that are normally used as alerts or for other cues can actually be replaced by visual events in the Ease of Access Center (which can be useful in cases where you do not set up speakers for the server).

Now that you’ve had a general overview of the geography of the Windows Server 2008 Control Panel, let’s take a look at some of the tools that you would commonly use. Let’s begin by looking at printers and other hardware devices.

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