The released version of Windows 2000, after many beta cycles and three release candidate cycles was build 2195.2. It was extremely similar to RC 3. You can see this on an install of Windows 2000 server (RTM version). It had been around in many previous incarnations as beloved Windows NT 5.0.

Windows NT 5.0 was an excellent, incredibly stable early version of Windows 2000, a couple of years before marketing pulled the "year" numbering scheme from the consumer Windows and tacked it on to NT. We had this build dropped from the Windows 98 beta time frame. NT 5 was really just NT 4 with many of the bugs fixed, and minor architectural changes built in. It was what I ran for quite a while, before moving back to Windows 95 for device support. Windows 2000 had pieces that were 7 years in the making I heard. From what I can tell it was well worth it. All in all, an excellent OS. I figure if it doesn't flinch at my non-kernel development, it's got to be stable.

Overview of Windows 2000

Windows 2000 is a multipurpose Operating System with integrated support for client/server and peer-to-peer networks. It incorporates technologies that reduce total cost of ownership (TCO), including software and hardware updates, training, maintenance, administration, technical support, and lost productivity due to user errors, hardware problems, software upgrades, and retraining.

Windows 2000 actually comes in more flavors than the standard three:

Info gleaned from several Microsoft books and webpages.

The most annoying thing about Windows 2000, in my opinion, is the control the Microsoft attempts to take away from the users.

Under the program files (and winnt) directory, there are certain sub-directories that win2k will NOT let you delete, such as Netmeeting, Outlook Express, and Frontpage. All of which are non-critical components. I can understand protecting critical os files, but even then, if I'm the administrator, I should be able to screw up my system if I want to!

Fortunately, I have found a couple ways around this file protection:

1. Delete the dllcache directory under winnt\sytem32. This is the directory where all the backup files are stored. When this is deleted, not only does your hard drive gain 200meg free space, when a "protected" file is changed/deleted, a prompt will come up asking for the win2k cd. At this point you can simply click cancel to keep the file the way it is.

The drawback to this method is that the directories still exist, even if empty. Also, if you have installed service packs/patches, not all backup files will be in dllcache, and it can be a pain to find all copies of a particular file.

Alternatively, if you can get access to your hd through an os other than win2k (ie. dual-boot), there is a different method:

2. Boot into the other os, and go to the parent directory of the ones you want to delete (ie. program files or winnt). Delete the offending directory. Now, create an empty file with the same name as the directory had. Set the attributes on this file to be hidden/system/read only. Now reboot into windows 2000, and the directories cannot be recreated, and the only side effect are empty files with the same names.

Windows 2000 has, apparently, been superseded by the spangly new Windows XP, which features (apprently) more ease of use, and an easier start.

However, for most purposes Windows 2000 Professional is a better OS than Windows XP Professional, with a comparable set of features. There are some compelling reasons to stick with 2k, such as:

  • Windows 2000 uses considerably fewer system resources (memory, CPU) than XP. Fewer services are started by default, leading to decreased memory usage and less background processor usage. An upshot of this is that 2000 will run on much older PCs with little RAM. XP was slow as a dog on an old family PC with 128MB of RAM, even with most of the useless services disabled, whereas 2K was snappy and fast, if slightly less user friendly.
  • 2000 comes with little of the "cruft" present on Windows XP. The user interface is fast and streamlined, Windows Media Player, Movie Maker, MSN Messenger et al are not installed by default (Internet Explorer, rather unsurprisingly, is). Windows 2000 is more of a "blank slate", allowing you to have more or less what you want on your PC, and have things your way.
  • Because they share the same kernel, XP and 2000 have much the same hardware support (although not by default).
  • I find that Windows 2000 doesn't like to irritate me as much as XP does. On your first boot of Windows XP, you are invited to: ...and it continues doing this for a few boots afterwards. By comparison, 2000 says very little and basically keeps out of your way. No animated tours; no pestering you to make a Passport; nothing besides a simple MSN icon on the desktop.
  • I personally like the 2000 default look, it's uncluttered (although this is subjective).
  • Whatever runs on XP will most likely run on 2000, due to the similar underlying code bases; hell, even most games will. A lot of the graphical enhancements on XP (like alpha blending) are also present in 2000.
  • On a purely economic basis, Win2K is much cheaper than XP. I've found copies of Windows 2000 Pro for £88, whereas XP Pro is £135. For families on a budget, this could be a godsend.
  • 2000 seems to be much more stable than XP, and I've known it to run for weeks at a time.

Of course, there are some downsides:

  • If you're a newbie, you may find 2000's lack of hand-holding gooeyness to be a little bit daunting at first.
  • It doesn't come with a firewall, so you'd better have one on disk somewhere. Along with Service Pack 4.
  • If you like your OS coming with a media player/IM client/movie maker/garish theme, Windows 2000 requires you to download all of these seperately, as they do not come with the OS.
  • If you're an IE user (WHY!?) 2000 does not come with any of the security enhancements or popup blocker functionality that XP SP2 has.
  • If you don't have network drivers on disk, and 2000 doesn't natively support your card, you're up shit creek without a paddle.

Basically, if you feel that you can tolerate the loss of some resources in favour of greater ease of use and compatibility out of the box, you're probably better off with XP. However, if you're one of those people who, on installing XP, disables everything in sight, runs XPLite and basically removes every new "innovation" in it, or you have few system resources available to you, it's probably better for you to go with Windows 2000.

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