System Sales
Graphic Design


System Sales

Tech Docs
Product Info


Contact Info.
Ken Goldstein

About CATI

Something Completely

Virtual Hawaii

Links around town!






High-Tech Times Article 022

Windows 2000

Are 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.

Microsoft 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.

As 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....

When 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 budget.

Second, 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.

Microsoft 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.

It 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.

One 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  and download a copy.

Once 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!

Okay, 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.

Next 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.

Although 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.

Remote 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 resources.

Last 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.

As 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  and check out FastLane Technologies’ products, and  to get more info on Mission Critical Software.

See you next month.