Windows 2000

Is it worth the hassle ?

Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional
Alan Bryer


Since Windows 2000 (Win2K) has been around there have been mixed comments about the latest operating system from Microsoft. Is it good or bad? Well, hopefully I will give you an imformative and objective review.

Many people have been under the impression that W2K is the next step from Win98/98SE. It's not. During development it was under the name of NT5, and is based around the NT kernel, but with added features.

The minimum requirements for W2K are around P200 + 2GB hard drive + 64MB RAM. Although a lower spec machine will run it, 64MB RAM is close to a realistic minimum. Win2K is almost 100% Plug & Play, which is a godsend not to have to find all those newer drivers, but saying that, I still had to look for some drivers on two different installs on separate machines. W2K is a multi-user operating system software, so a lot of the functions are pointing in that direction.

Installation is a breeze, but a note of caution. If you are a new user to NT-based OSs then I would suggest installing as a dual boot with W2K being the secondary OS on a separate partition formatted to FAT32, as NTFS is difficult to get back if you loose your primary partition (not for the faint hearted, I know).

Once installation is completed, you will see a familiar desktop, abeit slightly different icons, etc.. Its menu system is the same as Office2000, where the operating system tracks the programs you frequently use and hides the programs you don't use, reducing the size of the start/menu programs. From the menu the programs not used can be accesed by clicking on the arrow to reveal them.

Microsoft have added other new features such as self-healing applications, an improved Plug & Play support system and an HTML-style help system. The Audio CD player comes from the plus pack as used on Windows 9X versions.

Power Management is handled in Windows 2000 through ACPI. Unlike the earlier APM standard, ACPI is managed wholely by the operating system, not the BIOS, and has strict line to define power states and event handling. Windows 2000 systems can now be put into standby, or "hibernate" mode. When enabled, it dumps the memory image straight onto the hard drive so that when rebooting, your system boots in a fraction of the time. But it won't detect any new devices added since hibernation.

Microsoft has been moving developers towards Windows 2000 by requiring support for the Windows driver model, the unified driver system for 98 & NT. There are new tools for the writers of drivers , digital signing to reassure the end user that the drivers are tried, tested and approved. Also, Microsoft has hardware quality departments that test all new peripherals for use on Windows 2000 and offers certificates to guarantee that they work.

The portability of Windows 2000 assures that users would be able to maximise performance and take advantage of today's laptop functionality. Windows 2000 also supports smart battery, an applet that displays the current battery charge and power settings.

Games support is at the moment getting larger as software houses bring out patches for their games.

So, now it's time to ask whether it is the operating system for you or do you wait? Well, I personally like the overall feel but the current lack of hardware support leaves me to say "not just yet". If you own a laptop it would make a fine addition to NT4 as a dual boot but in my opinion it isn't worth getting for a single-user home system at the moment, especially considering that Windows Millennium is due for iminent release. So in the end it gets just 3½ stars.

Good Point Comparisons

Windows 2000 Pro

Windows 98 SE

Speed Best support for multimedia applications
High reliability Best PC games platform
Enhanced security Easy internet connection
Best mobile support Easy home networking
Best platform for next generation applications Best support for consumer hardware/software
Better power management  

The Future

Due for launch in September, Windows Millennium (Me) is heralded as the new OS for consumer PCs. If you are using Windows 98 at the moment then wait as I feel the natural progression will be to Me. However, Me is still based around 16-bit code so we are likely to have the same old problems with crashing! Meanwhile, touted for release next year is a new consumer OS (codenamed Whistler) based on NT's 32-bit kernel and that should be more robust than any previous incarnations.

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