The Windows 2000 Pro Chronicles

Last week I wrote about WAP and how little I was looking forward to connecting to the Internet with my cellphone.

I was very pleased to hear from a reader who agreed with my opinion because it means that I’m not totally alone on this. Life is way too short for fiddling around and trying to surf the Internet on a screen an inch square. And, talking of wasting time, another cellphone convenience that I really don’t have time for is SMS messaging. Entering messages is so time-consuming that I’d far rather call directly and, if necessary, leave a message on voice mail.
I’ve been feeling guilty for quite some time because I’ve had Windows 2000 Professional sitting on my shelf but, last week, I finally managed to clear my decks a bit and settled down to check it out. Before getting down to the nitty gritty, however, I should perhaps explain that Windows 2000 Professional is the successor to Windows NT Workstation and not Windows 98 as you might suppose.
In the spirit of trying new things I decided to install W2K Pro on my test machine in such a way as to leave me the choice, when booting-up, to run either it or Windows 98.
The installation process took just over half an hour and was as smooth as silk with very few questions to answered. I told it who I was, gave it the network details for that machine, and then sat back to see what happened. The machine restarted several times during the installation but, when the process was complete, it had correctly installed the correct drivers for the video adapter and network card. When I next switched the machine on it gave me the choice of starting W2K Pro or Win 98 and both worked perfectly.
W2K Pro looks very like Windows 95 and 98 and the only really visible difference is that it starts with an attractive blue desktop instead of the nauseating green you get with the others. It is built to be extremely powerful and stable but it isn’t alarming and you could just install the applications you need and get straight on with your work. The stuff that power users will need is artfully tucked away out of sight but is handy if you need it.
I was really grooving on the whole thing when I discovered that my Hewlett Packard scanner, printer and CD Writer wouldn’t work on Windows 2000. That was a shock but things got worse when I discovered that HP hasn’t simply gone ahead and produced updated software for all its peripherals.
I haven’t got the full story yet but I believe that there is updated software available for the CD Writer at R350. There isn’t software for the scanner and the printer and, as far as I can tell, HP has no plans in that direction. At the time of writing, I had been waiting for two days for a call from the HP technical experts and this in spite of the fact that they know full well that I do this column. More on the thrilling saga of W2K, HP and I, next time.
Last time I wrote about my successful attempt to install Windows 2000 Professional alongside Windows 98 on my test computer.
In the past week I’ve been fiddling with W2K Pro and I’ve been most impressed with its stability and, although I did have a few programs crash on me, they didn’t take the operating system with them.
W2K Pro also performs better than Windows 98 which always gives me the feeling it’s bloated and slow. Applications just seem to launch faster in W2k Pro and there is a lot less waiting around while things happen.
What strikes me most about W2K Pro is how un-alarming it looks in spite of the fact that it is an extremely powerful desktop operating system with all the bells and whistles that a power user could possibly need.
I’ve been delving about under the bonnet a bit and have found that it has the latest version of Internet Information Server, Microsoft’s full-house Web server, as well as an FTP server and some abilities as an e-mail server.
You could quite happily use W2K to run everything from desktop machines to departmental print, Intranet and Web development servers. It also has an Internet Connection Sharing facility so that other machines on the network can access the Internet through it.
There are many things I like about it including the fact it is immensely customisable for your particular purpose but, I suppose, my favourite new feature is the Indexing Service.
This highly useful little chappie works away in the background indexing all the files on your computer, including the contents, and it’s then the work of a few seconds to find use the search facility to find files containing a particular word or phrase.
Microsoft is aiming W2K Pro at the business user but I personally feel that users at all levels can benefit from it. There is the small proviso, though, and that it is a bit more fussy than Windows 98 about what hardware it will work with.
My Hewlett Packard printer, scanner and CD Writer, for example, refused to work with W2K Pro initially. After nine days of waiting for a response from HP’s technical boffins I phoned again and this time, just before going to press, I had a phone call and a follow-up e-mail.
The e-mail explains carefully that it’s not HP’s fault but that I’ll have to pay the software upgrade fee of R350. Fortunately, I have since managed to get the CD Writer going with the help of a friend and a CD-ROM creation package I downloaded off of the Internet.
The mail says that ‘HP has not written a specific driver for the printer as it was never planned to be supported on Windows 2000’ but that W2K does come with its own driver for it. I checked it out and it does. There is apparently a software fix to make the scanner work if you install it under Windows 98 and then upgrade to W2K. I’m waiting for the answer to how you cope if you have a clean installation of W2K.

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