CeePrompt! Computer Connection

Originally published Monday, February 7, 2000


Windows 2000 gets rave reviews


If you haven't noticed, the Microsoft marketing machine has once again unleashed a media blitz, this time anticipating the Feb. 17 release of Windows 2000. Unlike some earlier MS operating systems that were branded premature and full of glitches, Windows 2000 is being welcomed with open arms and heralded as well worth the wait.

Reviewers everywhere are singing the praises of Windows 2000 Professional pre-release versions and can't say enough about the powerful tools this OS brings to the business computing environment. "Stable, sophisticated and worth the upgrade" are among the glowing reports.

Windows 2000 differs from its predecessors, Windows 95 and 98 in that it is based on the Windows NT kernel, rather the Win95 kernel. In any operating system the kernel is the basic foundation on which the rest of the system software is built. Memory management, hardware configuration and security features are among the base kernel operations.

Windows NT has long been recognized as a sophisticated networking system for business servers and workstations. The NT 4.0 client resides on many workplace desktops and closely resembles its Win 95/98 cousins, but is generally considered more stable and robust. Windows 2000 improves on some NT 4.0 shortcomings, such as Plug and Play support and is considered easier to use because of its Windows 98-like front end interface.

The bigger the business, the more benefits are to be derived by upgrading to Windows 2000. Average users will certainly appreciate the crash-free nature of Windows 2000, but this industrial-strength operating system is aimed squarely at the business community. Network administrators will appreciate the Active Directory, which allows them to manage workstations, printers, files and folders from a single location. Software, including the O/S can be installed on remote locations from a single location as well.

We've been running evaluation copies of Windows 2000 Professional in the Computer Science department at University of the Pacific where the rave reviews continue, albeit backhanded in some cases. "It's the first product that Bill Gates has built that actually works," remarked one professor. "Windows 98 was crashing three to four times each day due to large Word files with embedded graphics -- Windows 2000 hasn't crashed once since it was installed."

For me, that may be reasoning enough to upgrade to 2000. Unlike Windows 95/98 which laid claim to preemptive multitasking, it was never truly the case. Utilizing the NT kernel, Windows 2000 offers true preemptive multitasking capability. In plain English this means that all tasks run exclusively in their own workspace and while an application might crash, it won't crash the entire operating system.

On the front end, Windows 2000 looks like Windows 98 with some new, surreal fade effects that are mostly fluff. Some familiar icons have moved, such as Windows Explorer, that now resides with the Accessories group, but overall Windows 98 users will notice only improved functionality and features.

The system requirements for Windows 2000 are fairly stringent, compared to other OS upgrades. As usual, Microsoft's "minimum" standards are bare bones and the following specifications are actually more realistic: Pentium Pro 200 or higher; 128MB RAM; 1GB free hard disk space. Windows 2000 will upgrade Windows 95/98 or NT 4.0 without overwriting your existing configuration.

If Windows 2000 is more muscle than you need, you can wait until mid-year for the Windows 98 upgrade, currently called Millennium. It's not based on the NT kernel, but it promises improvements for home and recreational users.

Cathi Schuler owns a computer literacy training/consulting company, Cee Prompt! She is a co-author of computer textbooks and can be reached by e-mail at cschuler@uop.edu or cschuler@ceeprompt.com or by mail c/o The Record, P.O. Box 900, Stockton, CA 95201. She is on the Internet at: http://www.ceeprompt.com. Click here for past archived columns.

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