Times Article 022
you ready for Windows 2000? Last
year, Bill Gates promised us that Windows 98 was the end of the line
for DOS-based Windows, and that Microsoft would base all future
operating systems on Windows 2000. But it turns out Bill was wrong.
will release Windows 98 Second Edition this fall, and will also
release another Windows 9X-based operating system, probably in the
latter part of 2000. Depending on whom you listen to, we could see
“NT 5" as soon as early fall, with the “official” release
date targeted at October 6th. And if I’m reading Microsoft’s signs
correctly, older computer systems and applications are liable to be
left behind. Users of Win2K should be willing to sacrifice
incompatible hardware and software, or accept the fact that the best
parts of Win2K won’t work.
over 90 percent of my company’s revenue depends on reliable versions
of Microsoft’s products, my first task was to determine the minimum
hardware specs to run Win2K. This list starts off with a Pentium
II-class processor running at 300 MHZ (233 MHZ on a laptop). This CPU
must be accompanied by 64 MB RAM, a 6 GB hard-drive, CD-ROM drive, and
a video board with 4 MB of on-board RAM. Add to this a 10Base-T
network interface card for connectivity. And now you have -- a machine
that will barely run Windows 2000....
our Win2k Beta 3 would take forever to start up on an in-house Pentium
II 350 with 64 MB RAM, I began to wonder what was wrong. Let’s start
with my recommendations for memory. Go out and buy at least 128
MB of RAM if you expect Win2K to run faster than a speeding tortoise,
and 256 MB is definitely not too much. With a 128 MB 100-MHZ SDRAM
chip selling for $85 at the time I write this, it won’t break your
get the newest possible BIOS for your system. All major computer
systems vendors who have qualified for Microsoft Windows Hardware
Quality Labs certification are required to make Win2K-compliant BIOS
revisions available within 60 days of the Windows 2000 launch.
Similarly, new hardware drivers will also be made available for
modems, network interface cards, and other peripheral components. And
go out and buy that 20 GB hard-drive you’ve been admiring; in fact,
buy two of them! You may need them.
has made it perfectly clear that Win2K contains much more
sophisticated setup routines to detect potentially incompatible
software, device drivers, and hardware, and that Win2K will suspend
installation until each offending component is either removed or
updated. With few companies having perfectly homogeneous in-house
systems, upgrading to Windows 2000 can present a major problem! MIS
and IT managers will have to provide custom upgrade routines for each
computer, which means that the bulk of Win2K migration dollars will
probably be spent on technical labor.
has been widely reported that a sizable percentage of older
applications either won’t run properly, or will even block
installation of Win2K. Here are a few of the worst known offenders.
Terminate-and-stay-resident (TSR) programs compensated for DOS’
inability to run more than one application at a time by placing small
apps or utilities in unused portions of system RAM; but the Win2K
memory manager has trouble coping with TSRs’ unpredictable behavior.
Dynamic Link Libraries (DLL) supplement basic Windows services, and
are memory-efficient as they’re loaded into RAM only when needed;
however, previous versions of Windows have no way to tell which DLL
takes precedence, with older DLLs overwriting newer ones during
installation, or programs expecting older DLLs could behave
erratically or crash unexpectedly. Virtual Device Drivers (VxD) bridge
the gap between DOS hardware and Windows; they were supposed to be
replaced by 32-bit DLLs, but have instead remained an easy way for
overworked programmers to shortcut tricky operations, and still run
old applications and hardware.
of the best software tools I’ve found for sniffing out potential
software compatibility problems with Windows 2000 is a freebie from
Microsoft called Sysdiff.exe. This program takes a snapshot of the
Windows Registry and the applications files when the Win2K beta is
installed, and lets you troubleshoot problems with DLLs and VxDs
before they even occur. Browse over to http://msdn.microsoft.com/developer/windows2000/migration/default.asp
and download a copy.
you finally have a computer system capable of running Win2K, you
should know that Windows 2000 Pro requires at least 75 percent more
hard-disk space than Windows 9X. And if you’re planning to add newer
applications such as Microsoft Office 2000 to take advantage of
Win2K’s new features, you’ll need even more disk storage. Thank
goodness that the price for large, fast hard-drives has nose-dived
over the past two years!
so why do we want to upgrade all of our machines, anyway?
What key features of Win2K would we miss? Let’s start off
with my favorite: hardware support. Windows NT 4.0 is legendary for
its incredibly dismal support for non-standard hardware components,
and even Windows 98 frequently fails to effectively manage device
recognition and power usage. Win2K is Microsoft’s first real attempt
to support the new advanced configuration and power interface (ACPI)
specs, which have great potential to improve hardware management.
on my list is Mobile Management. NT 4.0 has a rudimentary virtual
private network which Win2K enhances, along with support for multiple
network connection methods without reconfiguration. This greatly
simplifies setups for telecommuters, and users can easily move from an
office network to a dial-up connection. Additional tools for file
synchronization are also included in Win2K.
moving to Win2K on your server can certainly improve overall security,
Windows 2000 gives added security to desktop computers by encrypting
hard-drive data so they can’t be read by installing the drive in a new
machine. Native support for smart-card and biometrics authentication is
also a key part of Win2K.
Storage Services automatically monitors usage on local hard-drives, and
can off-load infrequently-used files to network storage to free up
space. Under current versions of Windows, user configuration data are
kept on the local computer, not on the server. Win2K’s IntelliMirror
lets users log on to any computer on the network, and receive its entire
personal configuration, including desktop and applications.
IntelliMirror also makes the network manager’s job easier by defining
and maintaining group configurations of applications and network
is Active Directory. The lack of a true global directory service has
long been a major shortcoming in Windows. Under NT 4.0, administrators
must develop and maintain separate lists of users and resources for even
basic network services such as log-in authentication and Internet
access. Win2K’s Active Directory consolidates all those lists, greatly
reducing the time and money to manage a network. Microsoft considers
this as the most important feature of Windows 2000.
a long-time network administrator, I assure you that migrating from NT
Domains to Active Directory is not for the faint of heart, although it
will definitely pay off in the long run. There are a few companies that
have developed migration applications that you may want to consider if
you’re moving to Win2K. Browse over to http://www.fastlanetech.com/products
and check out FastLane Technologies’ products, and http://www.missioncritical.com
to get more info on Mission Critical Software.
you next month.