I recently upgraded my company's workstations to Windows XP Professional Edition. Since then, I haven't been able to create on those workstations a Web folder that connects to an IIS 5.0 server. In the past, I successfully used Web folders to publish content to my intranet. Now, when I create a Web folder mapped to http://ourserver, I get an empty window. Why can't I connect to IIS?

This question sent me on quite an expedition, and the results are interesting to anyone who relies on Web folders to publish content to Web servers. Web folders use either Microsoft's Web Extender Client (WEC) or WWW Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) to communicate with an IIS server. By default, if you've installed the Microsoft FrontPage Server Extensions on your IIS box, the Windows client uses WEC to communicate with the Web folder. Otherwise, the OS uses WebDAV (presuming the server and the client have WebDAV capability).

Windows 2000 is WebDAV-capable as long as you use an application that speaks WebDAV (e.g., Microsoft Internet Explorer—IE—5.x, Microsoft Office XP and Office 2000 applications). In Win2K, you can easily create a Web folder mapped to http://ourserver, then drag files to the folder and manage content on the IIS 5.0 machine. However, in Windows XP, Microsoft significantly changed the way WebDAV works. Windows XP has a new feature called a WebDAV redirector. If you're familiar with network technologies, you know that a redirector is the part of the OS that identifies requests for files and sends the requests to the correct provider. Thus, in Windows XP, any application can publish to a WebDAV-enabled Web server (i.e., IIS 6.0 and IIS 5.x). The Windows XP implementation of WebDAV doesn't let you map a Web folder to http://ourserver. Instead, you must map your Web folder to a folder or virtual directory on the Web server—for example, http://ourserver/folder. If you try to map a folder to just a server name, you get a NetBIOS-style connection instead of a WebDAV connection.

To demonstrate this behavior in Windows XP, uninstall the server extensions from your Default Web Site. Then, follow these steps to create a Web folder:

  1. Open My Network Places.
  2. Double-click Add Network Place.
  3. Click Next twice, then type
  4. http://localhost

    in the Internet or Network Address text box.

  5. Click Next, then click Finish.

A window will open that has a computer icon and \\localhost in the Address bar, as Figure 3 shows, instead of a Web folder icon and http://localhost. No files or folders will appear in this window, only network shares. To convert the network place to a Web folder, open IE, then select File, Open. Type

http://localhost

in the Open text box, then select the Open as Web Folder check box. This time, you get a proper Web folder that you can use for Win2K-style WebDAV operations. (For more information about WebDAV and Web folders, see "Using Web Folders with WebDAV," April 2002, InstantDoc ID 24264.)