Hands On Windows 2000: Son of NT, Stepson of 98

After all the hype and a three-year-plus wait, today's official release of Microsoft Windows 2000 seems like a bit of a letdown. But the hulking operating system works - and fairly well.

Win 2000 Professional, the successor to Windows NT 4.0 Workstation,
generally
performs as promised. If you're looking for the next great OS interface,
however,
keep looking.

It will come as no surprise that Win 2000 is drive-hungry. It consumes
about 750
megabytes of disk space for the Professional version and 1.2 gigabytes or
more for
the Server versions.

Cosmetically, Win 2000 resembles Windows 98 more than it does NT. But the
new OS
does have the crash-resistant NT kernel. In use, it's like running a
stable version of
Win98.

The Windows 2000 Control Panel hosts the vital administration tools for
client
systems running the new Microsoft operating system - giving sysadmins
behind-the-scenes control.

It looks so much like Win98 that power users of NT will have to relearn it
because
the most powerful parts of NT are hidden behind a new facade.

All the same, it's definitely an NT successor. How do I know? I took a
chance and
simply upgraded my working NT 4.0 client. I succeeded, although the
installation did
have anomalies. I've installed and uninstalled hundreds of software
applications on
my 450-MHz Pentium II in the GCN Lab. Many apps tend to leave
poltergeists--little
reminders of long-deleted programs that annoyingly keep popping up again,
and
again, and again.

Among my phantoms have been start-up messages about missing files that
neither
utility apps nor detailed searches of the registry could exorcise. Win
2000 purged
the system of many--but not all--such demons. One oddity likely came from
an old
browser plug-in. Under NT 4.0, the PC would crash Internet Explorer 5.01
completely--every open window and sometimes the whole OS, forcing a
reboot. The
same crash has occurred occasionally since the upgrade to Win 2000, but
only the
offending window is affected. Everything else--even another Internet
Explorer
window--continues to work without incident.

Protected memory seems even more protective under Win 2000.

After the initial installation, I proceeded to upgrade the operating
systems on a
variety of our lab's desktop, notebook and server systems. There were only
a few
glitches, mostly related to a lack of software drivers and to incompatible
apps such
as antivirus programs. I assume Microsoft has resolved such problems.

Before installation, Win 2000 issues a report on the target system's
hardware and
software. Windows 95/98 users should take particular care to read the
report and
make as many of the suggested corrections as possible.

I found far more glitches going from Win95/98 to the new OS than when
jumping from NT 4.0 to Win 2000.


Longtime NT users should find and use the Computer Management feature
under Win
2000's Administrative Tools, which appears not on the Start menu but in
the Control
Panel. Computer Management provides a series of snap-in tools for overall
control of
Win 2000 on any system.

WINDOWS 2000 PROFESSIONAL

PC operating system

Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash.

Telephone: 1-800-426-9400

Web address: http://www.microsoft.com


Price: $150 to $215 for upgrades from previous Microsoft OSes; $315 for first-time buyers

Grade: A

PRO:

+ Friendly, Win98-like interface

+ Powerful, crash-resistant underneath

CON:

- Quirky upgrade from Win95/98

Real-life requirements: 300-megahertz or faster processor, 64 megabytes of RAM, 4-gigabyte hard drive

Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company

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