Windows 2000: test driving the new OS

Microsoft released its first betas of Windows 2000 Professional back in 1997, so we've had plenty of time to admire its stability, security and slick interface. But we were concerned that Windows 2000 Pro's 29 million lines of code and 500MB hard-disk footprint might make the OS dog-slow compared to current versions of Windows. We also worried that a system might need a bare minimum of 128MB of RAM to run the new OS efficiently.

Our fears were groundless on both counts. In fact, Windows 2000 is slightly faster than both Windows 98 SE and Windows NT 4.0 Workstation on many common business tasks, and it's only a shade slower on others. And running the new OS on a PC with "just" 64MB of RAM is certainly practical: in many cases, we saw very little performance gain when running the same tests on PCs with 128MB.

Moreover, PC World tests of startup and shutdown times demonstrate that Windows 2000 - despite taking every bit as long as lead-footed Windows NT to boot up - has inherited Windows 98's relatively fleet shutdown speed.

The tests that we ran were designed to gauge the new OS's efficiency in a typical business setting. We timed a range of common Word, Access and Photoshop tasks under Windows 98 SE, Windows NT 4.0 Workstation and Windows 2000 Professional on several identically configured Pentium III-600-based computers loaded with 64MB and 128MB of memory.

If you want the best features from previous Windows offerings without those products' major shortcomings, you should upgrade to this OS. But if you want better performance, invest those dollars in a faster processor or a memory upgrade.

We didn't test two other versions of Windows 2000. Windows 2000 Server is for departmental mail and file servers; Advanced Server is intended for use as a Web server. Microsoft expects Datacenter - a third yet-to-ship server version - to supplant mainframe database servers.

Windows 2000 Professional

Price: $509.30

$356.40: Upgrade from Windows 95, 98, or 98 Second Edition$242: Upgrade from Windows NT 4.0MicrosoftPhone: 13 2058URL: www.microsoft.com.auFast times, mostlySplit decisionNTFS vs. FAT32Memory no objectSave on RAM Fast getawaysWindows 2000 too much? Wait for the MillenniumWindows 2000: top reasons to switch

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