With the much anticipated release of Windows XP just around the corner, you've probably already heard a lot of hype regarding Window's new features. In light of this, I thought it might be a good idea to take a look at the network configuration portion of Windows XP so that you can get a feel for what has changed, what remains the same, and what new features have actually been added. As you read this article, please keep in mind that everything in this article is based on a pre-release version of Windows XP (RC1). Therefore, anything could change before the actual consumer version is released.
As with Windows 2000, you can access Windows XP's network configuration by right clicking on My Network Places and selecting the Properties command from the resulting context menu. When you see the Network Connections screen, the first thing that you'll notice is that the screen offers much more information than its Windows 2000 counterpart did, and also tends to be extremely easy to read. As you may recall, the Windows 2000 Network and Dial Up Connections screen contained only basic icons representing each connection. When multiple network connections existed, it was difficult to identify a connection without actually going into each individual icon. In Windows XP however, each connection is identified at the icon level, and the connection's status is also displayed. You can see an example of this in the screenshot below.
As you look at the image, you'll notice some other new goodies along the left side of the window. Perhaps the most useful of these new features is the addition of the Details area. This area provides you with a slightly more detailed summary of the selected connection. This summary includes the IP address and its configuration method.
As you further examine the screenshot, notice the Network Tasks section at the top left portion of the Window. This section allows you to do things like see a connection status (bytes sent and received), rename the connection, modify the connection, or create a new connection with a single mouse click. You might also have noticed that this section contains an option to repair a connection. Presently I haven't been able to locate any documentation on what this feature will do, but it should be a feature to watch for in the final version.