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Last Updated December 10, 2003

Windows 2000 FAQ

Although there are several Windows 2000 FAQ's on the web, we decided to put this one together as a way to "fill in the gaps" that we felt existed, based on the questions that we were receiving via e-mail. It is our hope to make this the most comprehensive FAQ on the Web, so if you have any additional questions that you feel should be part of this document please drop us a line at feedback@labmice.net  

 

What is Windows 2000?
Windows 2000 is Microsoft's latest version of its popular Windows NT Operating System. (Technically, it's NT 5.0. The name was changed for marketing reasons.) Both Windows NT and Windows 2000 are extremely well built, robust, secure, and popular Operating Systems that are designed specifically for businesses and high end environments. But Windows 2000 is a lot more than just a simple upgrade. It's almost a total rewrite of the Windows NT Operating System, with hundreds of new features and fixes.

What are the differences between Windows 2000 Professional, Server, Advanced Server, and DataCenter?
Windows 2000 comes in several versions. Windows 2000 Professional is a desktop operating system for workstations designed to replace Windows NT Workstation and Windows 95/98 in corporate environments. It can support 2 processors, as well as multiple monitors. Windows 2000 Server supports 4 processors and is designed to fill the role of typical domain controller, file and print server, application server, and other common tasks. Windows 2000 Advanced Server is designed for high end mission critical platforms, supports 8 processors, and includes support for  2 way server clustering. Windows 2000 DataCenter Server goes even further than Advanced Server in that it can support up to 32 processors, cascading failover among 4 nodes, and 32 node network load balancing.

How much difference is there between Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4.0?
Even though Windows 2000 is built on the Windows NT architecture, Microsoft has added many new features (Plug and Play, USB support, Recovery Console, IntelliMirror, Group Policy, Active Directory, integration of IIS and Terminal Services)  and redesigned many of the management tools (MMC, Disk Administration, ADSI). If you are already familiar with Windows NT, you'll have an easier time getting used to Windows 2000 but there is still a lot to learn.

What is the difference between Windows 95/98/Me and Windows 2000?
Windows 98 and Windows Me are based on the popular Microsoft Windows 95 Operating System, and are designed for the consumer market. Windows 95/98 were designed for backward compatibility with older DOS and 16bit programs, as well as providing a platform for the newer (back in 1995) 32 bit programs. Although many companies use both Windows 95 and Windows 98, these Operating Systems lack the security and stability of Windows NT/2000. However, Windows 95/98/Me is compatible with more software (including games) and hardware. It is important to remember that Windows 2000 is designed for the corporate environment, and not the average home user.

What is the difference between UNIX and Windows 2000?
UNIX is a much older Operating System that was designed in the 1960's. It began as an open source project that became widely used in Universities, scientific labs, and by the U.S. government. Over the years, hundreds of talented programmers contributed their own improvements to Unix making it extremely robust, stable, and fast. However, UNIX can be difficult to learn and isn't as widely supported as Microsoft Windows. For information regarding UNIX vs. Windows NT/2000 in corporate and academic environments, see http://www.unix-vs-nt.org 

Can I run Windows 2000 in a Windows NT 4.0 or Novell Networks?
Yes, Windows 2000 Professional and Server will work just fine in a Windows NT 4.0 environment and can authenticate to NT domain controllers. For Novell networks, Windows 2000 still supports IPX/SPX as well as TCP/IP. Novell has also created a client for Windows 2000 that is available on their web site.

How stable is Windows 2000?
Although Windows 2000 contains about 30 million lines of code and has its share of quirks and bugs, overall it is a very stable operating system. Microsoft has removed many of the system processes that contributed to crashes in NT 4.0, and added several new recovery features that make it easier to restore a system in the event things go horribly wrong. In our experience, the leading cause of crashes in Windows 2000 have been poorly written 3rd party software and hardware drivers, not the operating system itself.

How secure is Windows 2000?
No system is 100% hacker proof, but Windows 2000 includes several improvements over Windows NT (and blows away Windows 9x). In addition to beefing up the file system and adding encryption, Microsoft has changed the way Windows 2000 authenticates network resources by using certificates and encrypting traffic using Kerberos, added support for smart cards and biometric identification, and eliminated many of the back doors that plagued Windows NT 4.0. The Windows 2000 CD-ROM also includes several ready to use security templates that allow you to lock down workstations and servers quickly and easily, depending on the level of security you need. Additional information on locking down a Windows 2000 installation can be found in our Windows 2000 Security Checklist

How much does Windows 2000 cost?
The standalone version of Windows 2000 Professional will cost $319. Upgrades from Windows 95 or Windows 98 will cost $219. Upgrades from Windows NT Workstation 4.0 are $149. Windows 2000 Server costs $1,199 and comes with ten client access licenses. Upgrading from an existing copy of NT Server is $599. Windows 2000 Advanced Server costs $3,999 and comes with 25 client access licenses. Upgrading from an existing copy of Advanced Server is $1,999.

Where can I can get an evaluation copy of Windows 2000?
You can order 120 day evaluation copies of Windows 2000 Advanced Server directly from Microsoft for $5.95 (to cover shipping and handling. Evaluation versions of Windows 2000 Professional and Server are no longer available from Microsoft, however you can get a 120 day evaluation copy of Windows 2000 Server from the Microsoft Windows 2000 MCSE Training Kit

What happens when my evaluation copy expires?
When the evaluation period expires, you will receive a warning message letting you know that the test period has expired, and that the system will shut down in 1 hour. Everything should continue to function normally for 60 minutes, and then Windows 2000 will generate a STOP Error which will crash the OS. For further information see Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: 250920

What are the hardware requirements for Windows 2000?
These are the minimum hardware requirements for Windows 2000. For acceptable performance, we recommend doubling processor, memory and disk space requirements.

Win2000 Version

CPU Memory Disk Space
Professional P133  64Mb 1 GB
Server P133  256Mb 1 GB
Adv Server P133  256Mb 1 GB
DataCenter To be announced To be announced To be announced

What is the Hardware Compatibility List
Windows 2000 is very particular about the hardware on which it runs, and will run just fine on most modern off the shelf computers and servers. However, the support for video cards, sound cards, printers, scanners, and other peripherals is not as comprehensive as it is for Windows 95/98/Me. To help you sort through this mess, Microsoft created a Hardware Compatibility List so you can check to see which hardware has been tested and certified by Microsoft with Windows 2000. If you don't find the hardware on the list, check with the vendor to see if they have released any patches or updates, or if they support their products on Windows 2000 but have not taken the time to submit their hardware and drivers to Microsoft. You can search for compatible hardware on Microsoft's Compatibility Database

Will my applications run on Windows 2000?
In our experience testing thousands of applications for a major oil company, most 32 bit software applications will run just fine on Windows 2000, especially if they ran well on Windows NT 4.0. Games and older software that was written specifically for Windows 95/98 are a less likely to work, and will require some testing. The real incompatibilities come in with software designed to work with specific legacy hardware (old scanner and printer programs), and utilities designed for specific operating systems (Norton Works, Antivirus software, Backup software, Disk defragmenters, Partition Magic, etc.) Always check with your vendor to see if the software and hardware drivers have been updated. IT departments should set up a lab and test their mission critical applications for compatibility before deciding to deploy Windows 2000. Microsoft also features a searchable Software Compatibility Database.

What about DOS and 16 bit Windows programs?
Many of the older DOS and 16 bit programs we tested worked just fine, provided they weren't expecting to interact with specific hardware. For security and stability reasons, the Windows NT/2000 kernel doesn't allow software to interact directly with hardware, but insists that the program interact with a Hardware Abstraction Layer. Older programs that aren't designed for this standard often fail.

Can I run Windows 2000 on my Laptop?
Windows 2000 is an ideal operating system for laptops, provided your laptop can support it. Since laptops often feature proprietary hardware in the motherboard, display, network cards, video cards, integrated modems, and sound cards, not all laptops can run Windows 2000. If you're vendor supports Windows 2000 on your model, or if you're buying a new laptop that comes preloaded with Windows 2000, you'll like the stability and security that this OS brings. Windows NT 4.0 didn't support advanced power management, USB, or native file encryption, and Windows 95/98 doesn't have any security. Windows 2000 brings you the best of both worlds. I travel with an IBM ThinkPad i1400 that has a 366MHz Pentium II processor and 128Mb of RAM and Windows 2000 performs flawlessly on the road.

Can I dual boot Windows 2000?
Yes, you can dual boot Windows 2000 with other versions of itself, Windows NT, and one other Operating System. (Example: You can install Windows 98 on a PC and then install Windows 2000 Professional on a different partition, and Windows 2000 Server on another partition.) For more information on dual booting Windows 2000, check out our Resource Center

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