Newsgroups are a collection of ongoing discussions ("threads") that cover a particular topic and are available to anyone who has access to a news server and a news reader programme or even just a web browser. It is a lot like sending an email message, except for the fact that anybody with access to the server can read your message.
They are great forums for sharing your own knowledge and experience, as well as seeing what others have to say. When using a newsgroup, you can either post a message in response to an ongoing conversation thread, or pose your own questions.
When you post a question, many thousands of people may read about your problem, and you are generally assured of getting an answer quickly. Where else can you ask a question at 3am and know that somebody, somewhere will be reading of your dilemma in what is the middle of their day? But always remember, the regular advisers are volunteers who help out in the newsgroups in the spare time left to them after work and family commitments. Sometimes you may have to wait a day or so, especially during business hours, or at busy times such as after the release of a new programme, upgrade or beta or during holidays periods.
How do I use newsgroups?
ISPs often provide newsgroups as part of their overall service. MSN, unfortunately, does not. MSN users can access a service such as http://news.individual.net/ (which is free) or http://www.supernews.com/ (which is not), or http://www.teranews.com/ which is 'anonymous'.
There are many 'specialised' newsgroups available - you will find a lot listed at this URL: http://www.nyx.net/~bkraft/
Newsgroups can also be accessed using your web browser (Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mozille etc), for example - http://groups.google.com/
When you have a Windows problem to solve, an excellent place to ask for help is the newsgroups on Microsoft's free public news server.
Microsoft now provides a web interface for newsgroup access. The early version was slow, and dare I say unreliable at times but things have improved and the site has been updated to make it much easier to navigate. Testing using my old fashioned 33.6k modem has shown quite satisfactory access speeds. The only groups available are those on the microsoft.public server. This list is comprehensive, if not complete.
To access the Microsoft web interface, click here.
If you wish to access the microsoft.public newsgroups using a traditional NNTP newsreader such as Outlook Express, Agent, Gravity, Xnews etc, click on news://msnews.microsoft.com/ to directly access the Microsoft public news server and choose a group of interest to you from one of the many available covering virtually every Microsoft programme.
If your interest is Internet Explorer or Outlook Express (the news reader provided with Internet Explorer), feel free to click on one of the links below to go directly to a Newsgroup that I frequent.
Newsgroup Rules of Conduct
Making Effective Newsgroup Posts
Copyright L Chapelle Microsoft MVP-DTS (DTS-L) Ent.1999. All rights reserved. The DTS-L mail list.
Internet Explorer 5.0 and 5.01
Internet Explorer 5.5
Internet Explorer 6
Windows Millennium Edition
Special Interest Newsgroups
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Last updated Saturday, May 14, 2005