As you like it? Here are some good and bad points of successor to NT

As you like it? Here are some good and bad points of successor to NT

By Michael Cheek and John Breeden II

GCN Staff

GCN Lab reviewers and early adopters elsewhere have been working up their lists of cheers and jeers for the new features in Windows 2000.

Some comments are superficial, others more substantial. If your office is undecided about the new operating system, read on, because a particular like or dislike might set your upgrade threshold.

We invite readers to tell us about their own Win 2000 experiences. Depending on the volume we receive, we will post your responses on the Web. E-mail your contributions to win2000@gcnlab.com.

What's to like:

''Digitally signed drivers. Too often, a device installation interferes with a well-running Windows 9x or NT system. Each time a new device is installed under Win 2000, however, the OS checks for a digitally signed driver that has been tested for good behavior under a variety of conditions. If the driver is not digitally signed, the installer must decide whether to proceed. At least there's fair warning.

''Rescued files. Too many Windows applications play around with system files.Every user has experienced corruption of the mfc42.dll or some other Dynamic Link Library file. Win 2000 won't let that happen. If a system file is overwritten, the OS puts things right.

''Stick-and-click installation. Stick in the OS' CD-ROM disk and click a few buttons. Except for driver problems, we had no installation glitches on more than a dozen desktop PCs, notebooks and servers.

''Friendly interface. We recently re-marked to a Microsoft representative that the Win 2000 interface resembles that of Windows 98. He cringed at the comparison. Although the interface does look like Win98's, it doesn't act like it. We like that.

''Pretty pictures. Microsoft has added new desktop backgrounds including a snow scene, flowers and an English manor.

What's to dislike:

''Drivers, drivers, drivers. When Microsoft launched Windows 95, users had trouble finding the software drivers to make the OS work well with their hardware. We're going to feel those growing pains again. Win 2000 requires a whole new driver model, and it will take vendors time to catch up.

''Fade-in, fade-out menus. We asked a user who deployed Win 2000 what she thought of it. Her biggest complaint was the way menus faded in and out. One of us also found it annoying, so we discovered how to disable the fading.

See Tips and Tricks on the Web at www.gcn.com/gcnlab.

''The price. Microsoft's biggest challenge won't be persuading users to upgrade, it will be getting them to shell out the bucks. One computer maker told us that up to $350 of a new PC's price will go to the Win 2000 license.

So for some systems, the OS will cost more than the hardware. An upgrade from Windows NT 4.0 will cost about $150. If Microsoft is serious about Win 2000 adoption by the many government agencies that have standardized on NT 4.0, the price will have to drop.

''The hype. Microsoft says Win 2000 will work with a 133-MHz processor and 32M of RAM. Even Win95 is laboriously slow with that configuration.

We tested the new OS on a 266-MHz Pentium II with 64M of RAM and found it barely acceptable.

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