It's no stretch to say that any management tasks you can do from the GUI interface can also be performed at the command prompt. For example, in Chapter 4, "Disk and File System Management," I showed you how to partition a drive with the Disk Management utility, but I also could have shown you how by using the diskpart command-line tool.
Moreover, some information provided at the command line can't be procured in any other way. And, unlike most GUI management tools, you can open up multiple Command Prompt sessions in Windows XP, launching each one in its own memory space.
Why might this be a good idea? Because it lets you perform several command tasks simultaneously without fear of a single command-line failure affecting tasks running in other sessions. You can't take advantage of the command environment, though, unless you first know how to open it. You can get started in several ways:
You could also type command.com at the Run menu to get a command environment, but it won't be the XP Command Prompt. Read on for more details.
Any way you choose, you'll get a command prompt like the one seen in Figure 6-1, complete with an impatiently blinking cursor.
Figure 6-1. A new Command Prompt window.
As I mentioned, you can open an unlimited number of Command Prompt sessions simultaneously, and XP treats each additional window as a separate program. Contrast this behavior with the behavior of a program like Internet Explorer. You can have several windows open in IE, but if one encounters a problem and needs to close, it takes the others down with it. (You've no doubt seen this when Windows announces that "Internet Explorer has encountered and error and needs to close," and then you select whether to send an error report to Microsoft.)
After you've opened a Command Prompt window, you can easily start a second, third, or fourth instance without leaving the command line. All you have to do is type start and press Enter. Any of the methods listed earlier work just as well.
Start, by the way, is the command to start a new program. When used without specifying a program to start, the command prompt assumes you just want to start a new command prompt.
There are three ways to close the command prompt: type exit and then press Enter, click the Close button (the "x"), or use the Control menu (it's the little icon in the upper-left corner).