Should I upgrade to Windows Millenium Edition (ME)?

Question

What’s the big deal with Windows millennium edition and should I upgrade to it?

-Greg

Answer

This question was answered on September 11, 2000. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The latest offering from Microsoft, Windows ME (Millennium Edition - release date: 9/14/00) was named so to emphasize this version is specifically geared towards the individual home user Many of the enhancements are targeted towards home use, but since so many small and medium businesses are using Windows 95/98 on their desktops, some of the new features will certainly have an effect on corporate network users; some good, some bad Whether you should upgrade to it or not depends upon how you use your computer The main enhancements to Win ME are:

- System Protection: System File Protection & System Restore These new features will likely have the most widespread impact among all types of users, because they help with one of the most common problems; operating system corruption Many have experienced the aggravation of the BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) or other Fatal Exception errors after installing a new piece of hardware or software Even Bill Gates was a victim during the launch of Windows 98, when a plug and play scanner caused the BSOD in front of a live audience! To combat this, Microsoft has implemented a System File Protection scheme that will not allow critical *.DLL (Dynamic Link Library) files to be overwritten by an older or non-standard version In addition, the System Restore feature creates system backups automatically during periods of inactivity so that you can restore the system to a previous configuration, should a problem arise Windows 98 had the ability to do this as well, but it was fairly technical A wizard with a calendar will actually appear so that you can pick a date in the past in which the system was working properly without affecting your data files such as e-mail messages or documents.

- Multimedia enhancements: ME will include a basic video editing program (Movie Maker) that will work with video cameras and existing AVI and MPEG files It can split videos into clips for editing much like high-end programs Other enhancements include WIA (Windows Image Acquisition) for interfacing with newer scanners and digital cameras and a new media player.

- Simplified networking: Peer-to-peer networking is simply connecting machines to one another as opposed to a dedicated server Most home networks are designed in this manner in order to share files, printers and Internet connections Many small businesses operate in this configuration as well, so this feature will be helpful for both types of users.

- Built-in on-line games: Solitaire is probably the most popular computer game in the world, simply because it was included in Windows New games that can be played against others on-line via the MSN Gaming Zone http://zone.msn.com) include Backgammon, Checkers, Reversi and Spades.

- Universal Plug and Play: This is a new standard for home automation and connecting to non-conventional devices such as wearable computers Thats right, Windows ME can talk to your refrigerator!

Users of DOS applications and devices may have an issue if being able to boot to a pure DOS prompt is necessary Windows ME will no longer allow you to boot to a DOS prompt DOS applications that work within a window in Windows 95/98 should work just fine in ME; its only those applications that need direct communication with hardware that will have a problem DOS device drivers and memory managers can no longer be loaded from config.sys or autoexec.bat

Corporate administrators will need to be aware of potential firewall or other TCP/IP related conflicts Windows ME borrowed its TCP/IP stack from Windows 2000, so any third party utilities that are written for the Windows 95/98 plumbing may not work properly.

In general, the most likely candidates for Windows ME (in the short term) are those purchasing a new system In the past, upgrading to the latest OS early in the game made you somewhat of a guinea pig, while hardware and software vendors got up to speed If you have a fairly new system and dont mind dealing with new issues that your vendor is likely not going to be able to help you with, than upgrading may be for you If you are a corporate network administrator or have several systems connected at home, choose a machine that has nothing important on it to do your testing Test thoroughly before rolling ME out to all of your systems as there are bound to be issues

We discussed all of the relevent aspects of this topic on "The Computer Corner" radio show and have lots of information links posted at:

<a href="http://www.datadoctors.com/corner/corner archives/windowsme.htm"><font color="#003399">http://www.datadoctors.com/corner/corner archives/windowsme.htm</font></a>

Just remember, pioneers get arrows!

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Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on September 11, 2000