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2, Issue 13
February 22, 2000
the Mouth of Madness:
past weekend, I, like Im sure lots of people (or perhaps
not), made the decision that I was going to upgrade from Windows
9x to Windows 2000. This was, of course, not an easy decision.
There have been numerous reports about the number of bugs and
flaws in the program (upwards of 60,000 according to some reports)
and incompatible hardware problems.
I actually bought the program, I downloaded a handy little program
Microsoft released that checks your systems hardware and
lets you know how ready for Windows 2000 you are. I was quite
lucky almost all of my hardware was perfectly compatible
with Win 2k. Youll note I said almost. Dont be surprised
if that happens to you as well...so much hardware isnt Windows
2000 compatible, that chances are that if your computer has components
that are over a year old, you've got some incompatible hardware.
In my case, my printer and scanner were singled out as non-compatible.
so bothered by that, because a printer I could just hook up to
a Windows 9x computer on my network and use it as a shared printer.
The scanner, well, again, I could just use on another computer.
At least my video card (a TNT 2 Ultra) and sound card (Diamond
Monster Sound MX300) were ready. What did bother me a bit, was
the news that my version of Norton SystemWorks wasnt going
to run under Win 2k.
become quite reliant on Norton Utilities lately. Its great
it tells me when my drives are too fragmented, it protects
me from viruses, all around, its just a really useful product.
But sadly, it aint ready for Win 2k. And even worse, Symantec
doesnt offer a version of most of the utilities that will
work. They have an NT version of Norton AntiVirus (possibly the
most important of the various utilities in SystemWorks) but you
cant just download an upgrade to the Windows 9x version
you have to buy an entirely new product. So begrudgingly,
I bought Norton AntiVirus again.
I had decided to purchase Windows 2000, I had to actually buy
the damn thing. There are a few different versions you can buy:
Windows 2000 Professional (for workstations), Windows 2000 Server
(for well...network servers) and Windows 2000 Advanced Server
(for large network servers). And of course, all of these are offered
in both standalone and upgrade packages. Despite the fact that
the upgrade is about $100 cheaper, I decided to purchase the full
Windows 2000 Professional package. While you get a nice break
on the upgrade version, that means you have to have an OS pre-installed
before you can add Windows 2000. For the most stability, youre
better off reformatting your hard drive and doing a clean install.
And while Im using it as a server for some things on my
network, paying $900 for a five-user license just didnt
make any sense for me.
got my full version of Windows 2000 Professional. The first thing
I noticed when I opened the box, is how lazy Microsoft has gotten
lately. Instead of a comprehensive instruction manual/reference
guide, you get a dinky little quick start guide and
a slightly larger getting started book. Now, maybe
Ive gotten spoiled by the huge tomes included with Macromedia
and Adobe programs, but I cant tell you how useful those
phonebooks can be. The help system in Windows 2000 is basically
the next evolution of the HTML help in Windows 98, and it works
quite well, but its still not the same as a comprehensive
book. Instead of including one, Microsoft makes you buy an additional
book or twelve.
never actually seen the Windows 2000 CD-ROM, its quite silly,
but no doubt about it, its as pirate-proof as its
gonna get. Previous Microsoft releases have had holograms, and
CD-Keys, and Windows 2000 is no different. Except this time around,
the entire CD is a friggin hologram. Yowza. A little overboard.
so anyway, I decided to do a full reboot. Oddly enough, the OS
doesnt come with a boot disk (although the CD-ROM is bootable)
so I used the startup disk from Windows 98, which basically drops
you at a DOS prompt with CD-ROM access (and contains the Fdisk
and Format programs). I reformatted my hard drive using the FAT
32 file system instead of NTFS, because I wanted to allow the
Windows 9x machines on my network to access the Win 2k computers
hard drive. The other reason, is I figured that should I decide
to go with NTFS in the future, I can always just reformat. The
nice thing about doing regular backups of my important files is
that I have this luxury.
installed Windows 2000. The installation went off without a hitch,
and was problem free. If youve ever installed Windows 98
or Windows 98 Second Edition, youll recognize this setup
its pretty much the same thing. I was asked if I
wanted to convert my drive to NTFS, which is a nice feature for
those upgrading I suppose, but I decided to pass. If NTFS is really
more stable, Id rather do a clean reformat than risk conversion
errors. One nice thing is the network setup wizard
that runs during installation. Its sort of silly if you
know all about your network, but for end users who run a workstation
and arent that familiar with the inner-workings of their
network, Im sure its quite useful.
restarted, and began my full Windows 2000 experience. I installed
all my programs, and took a look at how well they ran. For the
most part, I had no problems. I use a few programs religiously
Macromedia Dreamweaver, Eudora Pro, Adobe Photoshop, and
Microsoft Word. Dreamweaver ran like a dream. I use the recently
released version 3, so no doubt it was checked for Win 2k compatibility
early in its development cycle. I use Photoshop 5.1, not 5.5 (what
can I say - I cant justify that upgrade price) and while
it ran comparably well, if not a little faster than Windows 98,
it did crash a couple of times on startup. I chalk this up to
using a slightly out of date version Im sure 5.5
works flawlessly. Eudora proved yet again that it is one of the
greatest programs around. Not only was I able to copy my Eudora
Pro directory from my backup files and start running it immediately
(read: no setup) but it had zero problems, and in fact ran much
better since it wasnt tying up my system resources (woo
hoo!). Microsoft Word, as expected, ran noticeably faster. This
was not exactly a surprise, as Excel was always one of the test
programs for NT 5, and no doubt a simultaneous release of Office
2000 with Win 2k was at one time in the cards at Microsoft. Other
miscellaneous programs that I use, like Winamp, LeapFTP and ICQ
all ran just peachy.
problem came when I decided to connect to the Internet for the
first time. Windows 2000 had automatically detected my ISDN modem
on install, so I figured I was good to go. I set up my dial-up
networking just like I did in Windows 98, and proceeded to connect
to my ISP. No problem, easy connect. Life is good. I tested out
the Internet Connection Sharing feature of the OS, and was amazed
when it worked with literally just a single click. Unlike Windows
98 SE, which was a bit of a pain in the ass to install and configure,
Windows 2000 allows you to click a checkbox and share your internet
connection. It works really well, and for those with small networks,
I highly recommend it (although I also suggest looking into a
decent firewall program if youre going to go this route).
quite happy with the OS up to this point, and was mildly going
about my business, when I noticed that my ISDN modem was only
using one channel. Uh oh. So, I punched in some init strings (Viva
Hayes compatible modems!) and reconnected to my ISP. Again, only
one channel (64k instead of 128k). I called 3Coms tech support,
and spent a good hour or so with one of their representatives
trying every known init string to force the modem to use both
channels...to no avail. It was most definitely Windows 2000 that
was the problem not the modem itself. I checked out the
help system (since the manual obviously was useless to me) and
went through several different troubleshooters with no luck.
out that while Windows 2000 recognizes my modem as the Courier
I-Modem ISDN Ext. PnP it wasnt letting me configure
it for ISDN use. See, my modem is a great one. Its a full-featured
ISDN modem, but its also everything else 56k, 28.8,
etc. And Windows 2000 seems to think that its just a regular
modem. Yeesh. So, I tried using other drivers that were recognized
as ISDN modems, but it just wasnt happening. Oh well.
I decided to use that computer on my network that I was using
as a printer/file server as my Internet proxy. That computer (which
is running Windows 9x) is the one with the modem installed, and
thanks to Sygate, I can use it to auto-dial to the Internet whenever
a computer on the network makes a request. Plus, Im running
some kickass firewall software for added security.
my beef with the OS, but besides that, Im quite pleased
with it. A few things have crashed, most notably Photoshop, but
the system hasnt given me any problems, and Im at
long last freed from the shackles of Windows 9x system resources,
which could be crippling at times. Plus, thanks to the fact that
its got DirectX 7, almost all of my games run on it (be
sure to grab the software compatibility update from Windows Update
it adds support for a ton of games).
III Arena and Unreal Tournament both run great, as both clients,
and dedicated servers (and that improved multitasking means I
can realistically run a dedicated server in the background while
working and not notice any major system slowdowns). Windows 2000
is a bit more complicated for a lot of things, but its not
nearly as complex as any Linux distribution (which is either a
good or bad thing depending on your point of view) and is a good,
solid OS. Would I recommend it for the mass market? Hell, no.
But if you play a lot of games and work on the same computer,
its the only way to go.
install/uninstall cycle that I put most computers through eventually
takes its toll on the system. Programs, and particularly games,
tend to leave excess crap in your system registry, and this can
really screw up your system. Windows 2000 handles this far better
than Windows 9x, and for that alone it gets the thumbs up from
course, Ive only been using it for a few days. Get back
to me in six months and see if Im still pleased with it,
but so far, its been a good (but not perfect) upgrade experience.
Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor-in-chief here
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