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Windows 2000 Professional

Windows 2000 Professional

High End OS A Stable, High End Alternative

By Jim Bray

You may not have realized it from the comparative lack of hype compared to the unleashing of Windows 95, but the recent introduction of Microsoft’s newest operating system is a cause for celebration even if you aren’t a business user with a huge network.

The new OS is called Windows 2000 Professional, but people in the real world will more easily recognize it as “Windows NT 5”. It’s the higher end, business oriented version of Microsoft Windows, so the average consumer can be forgiven if they don’t know or don’t care about it.

Microsoft likes to talk about the power, the networking capabilities, and total cost of ownership with Windows 2000 Pro, and that’s fine – but I have a different reason to be impressed by it.

I’ve been running Windows 2000 Professional (including prerelease versions) on my workstation since the summer of 1999 and, for the most part, I like what I’ve experienced. It has most of the benefits of the MS Windows environment, without most of the frustrations, and that’s good news.

I’m speaking strictly as a single user on a “workstation.” The PC in my home office is connected to a home network and the server is operated by my computer whiz son (which means it actually works, rather than if I’d set it up). He has chosen to run the network using Linux, therefore, I can’t really comment on how network people may like the new version of the Microsoft Operating System.

For those who have use for such networking capabilities – and there are millions of ‘em worldwide – Microsoft has built in lots of tools and toys for them to play with, including better hardware and software support and greater ease of use than NT4 – and they’ve also thrown in the wonderful Windows 98 interface which, as far as I’m concerned, is the best there is.

Despite the purported superiority of Linux (and Macintosh, though I’ve never agreed with that), Windows 9x is the easiest and most flexible Operating System to use and Microsoft just keeps making it nicer all the time.

If only it would be more dependable…

Windows 2000 also offers better DirectX support than NT4, which may or may not be important to you. It’s important to me, because I review computer games (which proves once and for all that life is, indeed, tough), so I’m glad to see the upgrade.

“W2K Pro” doesn’t yet run the TV tuner and DVD player that are built into my video card, though it will soon, and a few applications – mostly games – turn up their noses at it, but on the whole the OS probably does ninety per cent of what I need it to. I couldn’t say that about NT 4.

Where Windows 2000 really impresses me, however, is in that abovementioned dependability area. In my admittedly unscientific test (which really amounts to accumulated experience using the product under everyday conditions – which may actually be the best test of all) the operating system is a dream when it comes to crashes and hang-ups, especially when compared to Windows 95 and 98.

In fact, it has for the most part been rock solid and, as millions of Windows users will attest, that’s really something to crow about.

Now, I haven’t kept a log, but I’d guess that for every 50 times Windows 98 crashes, Windows 2K Pro has only crashed once or twice - and to me, that’s worth the price of admission.

On the other hand, that price of admission is steep compared with Windows 98.

And you must remember that Windows 2000 won’t run absolutely everything that Windows 98 will, which is a darn shame. W2K Pro is designed as a heavy duty business environment, so using it only as a desktop OS may be a bit of a waste.

Things may improve even more this fall, however, with Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me). Microsoft says this new consumer version of Windows will be more dependable than Windows 98, as well as offering automatic updates, fast booting, more multimedia capabilities, and a better online experience.

Hopefully, they’ll learn from W2K and stick its rock solid stability into the new consumer version.

If so, I can die a happy man.

Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.


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January 31, 2006