Networking Basics: Internet
Microsoft recognized the growing popularity of home networks and implemented Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) in Windows 98. ICS lets you connect one computer to the Internet by whatever means (modem, DSL, ISDN or cable) and share that connection with any other Windows 98/ME computer on the network. Though simple in theory, the actual implementation of ICS proved problematic for many users. The more recent Windows operating systems (98 v.2 and later) have an improved version of ICS that uses a Microsoft wizard application to guide you through the process.
By default, the ICS components are not installed on your computer. You only run ICS on the computer that is actually connected to the Internet:
- Go to the Control Panel and double-click Add/Remove Programs.
- Select the Windows Setup tab and open the Internet Tools option.
- Enable the Internet Connection Sharing component by clicking on the box next to it and then clicking on OK.
- Once the ICS components are installed, the ICS wizard will pop up. Follow the prompts and keep clicking Next. If your Internet connection is not already configured on this computer, the wizard will open the Internet Connection Wizard (don't get these two wizards confused!) so that you can set up an Internet connection. Simply follow the prompts. When you're done, you'll be returned to the ICS wizard.
- The ICS wizard will gather some information and prompt you to insert a 3.5-inch diskette. This diskette will then be used to configure the other Windows 98/ME computers on your network for Internet access.
While file and printer sharing are still relatively easy on other operating systems, Internet-connection sharing using only software is a good deal trickier. In most cases, you will need to configure a router or gateway that will bridge between the Internet and your home network. Even with Windows 98/ME, you may want to set up a hardware router to share your connection. In the next section, we will discuss a piece of equipment that is a useful part of many home networks: the cable/DSL router.