And so begins the story of Windows 2000:
It started out one morning just a week
after the release of Windows 2000, when I needed to re-partition my Compaq
DeskPro 6000's hard drive. In my zeal, Partition Magic 4.0 somehow damaged NT
4.0 enough to keep it from starting, and even to prevent it from being
repaired. I stared down at the hypnotic holography on the Windows 2000
Professional CD and decided it was time to bite the bullet...
I thought that the office's three year old
Compaq workhorse would be a good testing platform, since the Deskpro 6000 had a 200MHz
Pentium Pro, 160Mb of RAM and a few wide SCSI HD's in it. I move all my
data to another hard drive and started clean. It took one hour for Windows'
installation routine to fill up the C:\WINNT directory
with over 600Mb of files. The installation went smoothly
however, requiring very little interaction. Reboots take twice as long
now, but hopefully I won't be needing many of those?
Looking immediately to save some
space, I tried to delete Outlook Express. This is no longer an option in
Windows! You're apparently stuck with Outlook Express, like it or
not. Then I wanted to install a few applications from our network,
except that the registry key for the Network Applications location that has
worked fine since Windows95 was merely alpha, no longer works. Oh, but
at least the Pinball! application from Microsoft's Plus Pack is now part of
the standard install. What else could anyone ask for?
A quick sanity check in Device
Manager showed that the auto-detection process was only mediocre.
Plug'n'Pray monitor and display adapted combo was not seen as such (but the 60Hz
default scan rate isn't distracting though), the parallel-port Connectix Color
QuickCam was detected verbatim but no driver existed for it, my Yamaha SCSI CDR
disappeared entirely, and I had to manually add the cheapo game port
card. The Compaq's crappy (ESS) sound hardware worked fine though, as did
my 2Gb DAT tape.
Undaunted, I plowed on
ahead. Office 2000 Professional ate another 250Mb of hard drive space
with the required selections, and then since man cannot live on Microsoft
software alone, I wisely stopped to review some of my options. I knew that the
hardware scrapes would only be the beginning.
I didn't surprise me much when
Symantec would require that my 5.0 version of Norton Anti-Virus be updated
($$$), and it wasn't too shocking that AutoSOCKS (a product for SOCKS proxy
traversal, and an absolute must-have for my work) would also require replacement ($$$), but I started to get annoyed
when I discovered that Adaptec's EZ CD Creator 3.5, which I only received a
few months ago, would require upgrading to the Adaptec's piggy, buggy new 4.0 version
($$$), and that the requisite 4.02 patch wasn't even out yet, and that
Adaptec's web site has confusing and contradictory information about what
works and doesn't work, or what works just so-so. After that grief, it wasn't surprising at all that EZ-SCSI 5.0
was also rendered completely worthless (and with no apparent upgrade
plans). At the moment, I can't find ANY CD writing software that is
stable or recommended under Windows 2000. Stac's Reachout Enterprise -
another must-have for my work - is also some time away from being
compatible. In the coming weeks, I'll have to find out how well the
While I pondered the third-party
problems, I began hammering at Microsoft Office 2000. Plagued by random
lockups, FrontPage weirdness, and transient system hangs, I clicked on the
Windows Update icon. In spite of the many months that Office 2000 has
been shipping, there's still no service pack. On the other hand, Windows
2000 already had updated software available the very week it was released! Disgusted as the
downloads finished, my thoughts turned to my other PC's.
my PC at home? Or even my laptop?". Silly thoughts.
Perhaps the laptop won't work out so badly, slightly hobbled perhaps by its
piddling 64Mb of RAM, except that I would no longer be
able to hot-sync my Palm-V via infra-red until Palm and Microsloth come to
some kind of an
understanding. Strike 2.
Windows 2000 won't be happening on
my home PC in any
hurry either. 3Dfx's drivers for my TV3500
video card aren't due for their first release until close to May 2000. Since
it took three updates of those drivers before the runway lights could be seen
at night in Flight Simulator 98, and these drivers still have bleeding
problems when using the TV hardware, I'm not going to get my hopes up too
high. Then assuming 3Dfx delivers, I still have to worry about the Intel
motherboard's Yamaha sound system, a Nakamichi CD changer, Yamaha CD writer, a
Pinnacle Systems DV300 firewire/SCSI card, a Motorola internal VoiceSurfer ISA
modem (big hint: Motorola stepped out of the consumer modem biz over a year
ago), and a SanDisk USB CompactFlash reader. My scanner, an HP 4c, is
apparently supported in Win2K by the 2.8 version of DeskScan, for which HP
forced me to pay $20+S&H a year ago and then posted it for free on their
web site several months later. And finally there's my Microsoft Force
Feedback Pro joystick but, they wouldn't be stupid enough not to have drivers
for that, would they? Strike 3, regardless.
Microsoft, YOU'RE OUT!
Many manufacturers seem to have
been caught with their pants down regarding Win2K driver development and
support. Only a few web sites mentioned Win2K compatibility, and most of
those indicated that support was still at least several weeks away.
Worse yet, it looks like Windows 2000 is being used as an opportunity to force
consumers to upgrade their software and even replace their hardware. If
that's the price of admission, I'll find a cheaper theatre.
In actual usage, Windows 2000
seems to be a mixed bag. If you've grown sick of Windows 98's terrible
memory management but needed plug'n'play, or grown sick of NT's lack of
plug'n'play, then Windows 2000 is for you. There's no such thing as a
free lunch though, so you'll need at least 32Mb to 64Mb more RAM to make up
for Windows 2000's substantially larger memory footprint. Also, 2000
takes twice as much disk space as NT did, and so do any tools that you may
want to install.
Windows 2000's selling points are
alleged to include faster booting and a better interface. I can't measure any
improvement in boot time, and the interface is considerably more sluggish now
too. I guess the interface improvements have nothing to do with
speed. I can do without the drop-shadow'd mouse pointer, thanks.
Whoever makes the interface decisions needs to be shot. Although it's
easy enough to move the shortcuts around, I can't understand why the Command
Prompt AND WINDOWS EXPLORER were moved to the Accessories submenu.
Windows 2000 Professional users
who wish to administer networks will be directed to find a Windows 2000 Server
CD and run an Administration Tools install from there. You cannot find
the tools on Microsoft's web site. The documentation insists that the
tools will install a shortcut from Start|Programs, but you can only find the
tools by digging into Control Panel's Administrative Tools shortcut. Then
you'll discover that there are no tools included to manage "old" NT
domains. For that, you must spring for the Windows 2000 Resource
Kit. You'll also find that like most of
the administrative tools have been converted to the
MMC (Microsoft Management Console) concept. Microsoft did not have the
time to convert everything however, so choosing some tools in the MMC spawn
the old Windows GUI version tools (such as the RAS tool).
When you install the Windows 2000 Resource Kit,
it does give you a shortcut from Start / Programs. This only
leads to an Explorer web window showing enhanced directory shortcuts to the
various tools. If you're like me, irritated that everything under the
sun now has to look like a web page, you'll be sickened by this too.
Windows 2000 does manage to sport
a few useful improvements. One is the encrypted file system. NTFS
"security" was a joke to anyone with a DOS boot diskette.
Unfortunately, you cannot have files both encrypted and compressed.
Also, there's no way in Explorer to casually identify folders or files with
the encrypted attribute set - no option to set encrypted items to a different
color the way you can with compressed items.
Another "improvement" is
that Windows 2000 finally gives you back FAX ability, with simple but
thankfully uncrippled software. Those of you who "upgraded" from Windows
95 to Windows 98 without doing an over-the-top upgrade know exactly what I
mean. I'm certain that Bill Gates got a huge kickback from the authors
of WinFax for that bright move two years ago. 2000's FAX software can
use your modem or a variety of network/gateway TAPI drivers (not that any have
really been standardized yet). You can also include a simple cover page
or make your own. Oddly, our DOS heritage still shows somewhat here,
with a cover page template named "confdent". You can choose
immediate or scheduled sending. I prefer to call this feature a
I can hardly wait to find out
what Microsoft has broken next! It's not the 65,000 known bugs that
worry me - it's the other 100,000 unknown bugs that really have me on
June 2000 Update
Here it is, now nearly four months after
the release of Windows 2000, and I've finally gotten the nerve to try it on my
home PC. I've had some time to work with it elsewhere and discover just some of the
in's and out's, and even though I knew perfectly well I was in for a bumpy
ride, my impression hasn't changed much
After a motherboard upgrade left
my Win98 installation mis-detecting its sound drivers with no apparent
workaround, I decided to brave a Windows 2000 installation there...
Being that my home equipment is
somewhat more up-to-date than the stuff at work, I've discovered the joys and
pains of ACPI - Advanced Configuration and Power Interface. It sounds
promising, doesn't it? It's not. If all the peripheral
card manufacturers would play nice and stop making PCI hardware that hogs
interrupts (contrary to PCI spec), and write their drivers completely to spec,
perhaps it would be OK. But to have
six or seven (or more) devices all sharing IRQ 9 and leaving 7, 10, 11,
14 and 15 completely untouched seems a bit insane. Instead with
is supposed to referee all those conflicts instead of software, and with
questionable results. You can
use a "Standard PC" OS kernel instead of the ACPI kernel and revert
to the Windows 9x approach for doling out IRQ's and managing them with the
BIOS and software, but Microsoft warns you not
to use Device Manager to do it. They recommend a complete
re-installation of Windows 2000! (You have to press [F5] during the
hardware detection phase and select the "Standard PC" kernel.)
Plug 'n Pray didn't work too
badly. Of course my IEEE-1394 ("Firewire") controller failed
to install because of the lack of native drivers, and Pinnacle Systems has been
disgracefully slow to roll out a new driver package for their DV300. The
Microsoft Force Feedback Pro joystick, although it failed to auto-detect,
installed manually just fine. The price of admission there is forfeiture of
the Game Device Profiler software (Win9x ONLY), so your force functions can
only be controlled via DirectPlay games that support that joystick's force
TV3500 video card worked in crippled mode (no TV) with Win2K's native drivers, but
worked very nicely with the latest beta drivers from 3Dfx. The
old Motorola VoiceSurfer 56K modem works fine (you can buy these fine Rockwell
-based devices for $15 now), but the status window shows terminal speed instead of
negotiated speed when connected, and Windows seems to believe it's voice
capabilities are not full duplex. The HP scanner auto-detected fine, as did the
CD-ROM's. The motherboard's Yamaha sound system did auto-detect, but is
missing the enhanced stereo DSP features that existed in Win98. Intel
has been promising logo'd Yamaha sound drivers for weeks, but the promises have been
empty. The last item was the Sandisk USB CompactFlash reader. It
works just fine, and prompts Windows 2000 to give you a little icon in your
system tray that lets you politely remove or disconnect USB and PCMCIA
Dial-Up Networking in Windows 2000
is amusing, if you must connect to Windows NT 4.0 -based networks. It's
bad ol' Bill's way of compelling your employer to invest in Windows 2000's
Active Directory. DUN connections you see, prior to Win2K, used to
inherit a relatively full set of networking parameters from your RAS
server. This included WINS server addresses, DNS server addresses,
etc. In Windows 2000, WINS server information does not get brought in
unless it just happens to live on the same machine as a Win2K DNS
service. This leaves you unable to participate in an NT 4.0 network,
since WINS helps your PC find where your browser masters, domain controllers
and other resources are. If you manually specify a WINS server to make
this work, you also have to manually specify DNS servers as well. This
makes DUN connections difficult to configure and tedious to maintain, unless
you have Win2K all around.
Network subnetting seems
vastly improved however. DUN gets along
seamlessly now with TCP/IP -based home networks now. Gone are the annoying
unwanted appearances of the DUN connection dialogue when printing to local
TCP/IP printers or accessing shares on other local TCP/IP hosts. Routing
in general seems far more intelligent and reliable.
Now onto the nitty-gritty...
All that IRQ sharing with ACPI is far from a cakewalk. The SCSI
subsystem showed some instability until I replaced the native video drivers
with a beta set from 3Dfx. The symptom reared its head in the form of
what appeared to be DMA faults after trying to use the Disk Manager.
Only rebooting would return the machine to normal when this would
happen. But the real fun happened with the Pinnacle Systems
(miroVideo) DV300. This is a combination firewire controller with
Adaptec 2940UW SCSI card. The beta driver for this came out on
5/31/2000, and seems to be more of an alpha product than beta. Pinnacle
had promised drivers by the end of May; they didn't promise the drivers
would be usable by that time. Installing Pinnacle's beta driver in
an ACPI system instantly causes horrific faults in Plug'n'Play and leaves you
with an unbootable system.
The good news is that using
the "Standard PC" kernel works wonderfully. IRQ assignments
still seem a bit queer however, with some sharing between devices even when
suitable free IRQ's are available. And Windows 2000 doesn't let you
touch the assignments like 98 did, ACPI or not. I could also manually
enable APM and still get at most, but not all, of Windows 2000's power
management features. No more SCSI troubles and even the Pinnacle DV
driver manages not to crash.
Finally, boot-up time is
indeed quicker on this system, but I wonder if it's only because I haven't had
time to load it down with all that crap that I had on Windows 98.
All in all, I'd like to keep
Windows 2000 right now but can't afford to do so until Pinnacle makes some
release -quality (note I didn't say release level) drivers available.