Windows Millennium Edition

Installation Test Results
(Summary)

Okay, what did we learn from all of this? Quite allot really, much of which we have assembled in a checklist format below. Let's first take a candid look at what Microsoft tells us are the "Top 10 Reasons to Upgrade to Windows Me". Before you go jumping into Windows ME with both feet, you may want to read our summary and the Do's and Don'ts of upgrading to the Windows Millennium Edition.

Microsoft says:

Import and edit your home movies:
Put yourself in the director's chair. Import and edit video from your analog or digital camcorder. Then splice scenes easily or add graphics, narration, and musical scores. When you're done, Windows Movie Maker helps you share your creation with friends and family via e-mail or on a Web site.

Our editorial comment:
Can you actually import and edit video from either a digital or analog camcorder, add graphics, splice scenes together, add narration and the like? Yes you can! However, your computer will need the necessary horsepower to do this, and we wouldn't recommend anything less then a 600MHz CPU, 128MB of memory, a powerful graphics video card along with plenty of extra hard drive space, 10MB minimum. Can it be done with less? Yes it can, especially if you have allot of free time on your hands waiting for operations to complete.

Move your photo collection from a shoebox to the Web:
Working with photos in Windows Me is a snap. As soon as you connect your digital camera to your computer, Windows Me displays a helpful wizard that makes it easy to import and store your digital images. Then use the new "My Pictures" folder to browse thumbnails of your photos, enlarge them to show more detail, or even arrange the images in a slide show. Whatever you eventually create, you can share in e-mail or on the Web.

Our editorial comment:
Can you work with your photos in Windows ME such as downloading them from a digital camera and store them on your computer? Yes, if the camera is compatible. Can you enlarge them or make up a slide show? Yes, you can do both. However don't expect to be able to do too much with your pictures in Windows ME, other than simply downloading them, adjusting their size, storing them and maybe making up a simple film strip. For anything else, you will need better software, such as Picture It, Adobe, Print Shop etc.

Archive and index your favorite music:
Windows Me offers the first fully integrated digital media experience, giving you the power to create and index a library of CD-quality audio files that you can store on your computer. Windows Media™ Player also makes it easy for you to watch and listen to streaming multimedia content, including a vast catalog of Internet radio stations. You can customize your listening experience by choosing visualizations that move in rhythm with the music, or by changing the player's appearance by assigning it a new "skin."

Our editorial comment:
Microsoft has done a great job with their new Windows Media™ Player, and indeed you can create a store a library of sounds and even add them to visual media, however as noted in our remarks above regarding video editing, your computer will need the necessary horsepower to do this. Again, we wouldn't recommend anything less then a 600MHz CPU, 128MB of memory, a powerful graphics video card along with plenty of extra hard drive space, 10MB minimum. Can it be done with less? Yes it can, but its just a matter of how much free time you have to wait for processes to finish.

Protect your critical files:
Windows Me won’t allow your critical system files to be deleted or altered, either by accident or by a malicious virus or rogue application.

Our editorial comment:
Microsoft has finally added something new and worthwhile to a Windows 9x based operating system by adding file protection. We cannot count the number of times customers have contacted us about their computers not working properly, only to find out that they had added software that had replaced current system files with older versions. More importantly, with the number of virus infections on the rise, this will go a long way in stopping reducing the number of system crashes due to an virus infection or Trojan on a PC. Inherently, computer users get comfortable and complacent in between virus outbreaks and they let their guard down. This is when their PC's are most vulnerable.

Revert your computer back to normal:
If anything ever goes wrong on your computer, System Restore can roll your system back to the state it was in when all was well.

Our editorial comment:
Here's another great feature Microsoft has finally added, an easy way to roll your system back to a time before the problems began. Many times users add software without making sure its compatible or that it may conflict with existing software. This can lead to anything from some minor errors to completely inoperable computers. This is a gem that's been a long time coming for the average user. 

Find the answers you need:
The improved Help and Support area in Windows Me integrates help for your computer, operating system, and software programs into one location. Get the help you need faster, with better, easier-to-read troubleshooting menus.

Our editorial comment:
We agree that Microsoft has made some great strides in clearing up the way its help section works, and the new wizards will be a boon to both experienced and not so experienced users alike.

Use your computer to program your VCR and thermostat:
Windows Me provides new support for existing and upcoming Universal Plug and Play devices. In the future, you'll be able to drag and drop a TV listing from an Internet site into your VCR or DVD player, or control home temperature settings from your computer.

Our editorial comment:
We think Microsoft may have tried a little bit of a stretch here, maybe trying to get to the "Top 10". Anyway, can your personal computer or business workstation be used to program your VCR, home entertainment system, set alarm systems, turn lights on and off remotely, yes it can, but that isn't new. If you have these devices and they have the necessary connections to allow connection to your PC, all you need is the software, something that has been available now for about 3 years.

Link your household’s computers
Hooking up all the computers in your household is a breeze with Windows Me. It automatically detects and shares available resources, such as printers and folders, on your home network.

Our editorial comment:
Microsoft has indeed made improvements in home networking in Windows ME. They have added a ton of support for new network devices, and the network wizard is the best thus far out of all of the Windows 9x based operating systems.

Contact friends and co-workers more efficiently than ever:
Outlook Express, MSN® Messenger Service, and NetMeeting work together to make communicating easier and more efficient. Log on to the Web from virtually anywhere in the world and check e-mail, chat with friends, or conduct a live meeting with colleagues.

Our editorial comment:
Microsoft has made another stretch here, maybe this one was to get to the "Top 10". Anyway, Outlook Express has been around a while, as has NetMeeting. MSN Messenger is new, but then again, its right up there with ICQ. Nothing new here.

Take gaming to the next level:
Increased network support in Windows Me lets you go toe-to-toe with your housemates over a home network, or challenge an anonymous competitor over the Internet.

Our editorial comment:
Microsoft has made an effort in Windows ME to improve gaming on personal computers, especially on home networks and game play over the Internet. Like some of the other new features mentioned above, your computer may require some additional horsepower to play some of these games, especially in a home network environment, but Windows ME can handle it.

Let's revisit some of what was learned from our testing:

We cannot stress strongly enough, "Always Prepare Your Computer System". The following should prevent you from turning a relatively easy upgrade into a nightmare.

The Do's and Don'ts of upgrading to Windows ME!!

  1. Do make certain that your hardware is Windows ME compliant.
    The majority of the problems users face when attempting to upgrade to Windows ME is non-compliant hardware. Hardware that is either too old, or for which there are no current drivers. Motherboards and their Bios' are no exception. If your computer was manufactured prior to October 1996, in all probability Windows ME will not install correctly. If the Bios written for you motherboard is dated before November 1997, you should make every effort to update the Bios to a version dating October 1998 and later. Two things you can do to insure the success of either an upgrade or fresh installation of Windows ME. 1. Verify the compatibility of each of your hardware items, motherboard, CPU, video card, modem, sound card, etcetera, by visiting Microsoft's Windows ME Hardware Compatibility Center. 2. You could also download and run the Windows 2000 Readiness Analyzer found here at our website. It's a little more stringent then Windows ME requires, but it will help you identify problem hardware.

    Don't assume that upgrading will fix any errors or problems you now have with any previous Windows Versions!
    If you are currently experiencing hardware related problems, including driver and software problems, resolve these before attempting the upgrade. Windows ME will not fix them!

  2. Do install all necessary software updates.
    If you are upgrading, get the latest driver software for any peripheral devices attached to your computer, as well as any updates that you need for installed software. Consult the documentation that came with your devices, or visit the manufacturer's Web site.

    Don't presume that Windows ME will provide all of the devices drivers you may need. Windows ME does not come with the latest driver versions for every device ever sold, nor does it even include recent drivers for most of the popular devices such as sound cards, video cards and the like. Windows ME comes with device drivers released as of the date Microsoft closed the submission of testing and verification of device drivers from manufacturers. If a driver wasn't submitted, or was submitted and didn't meet the testing criteria, it wasn't included.

  3. Do scan for Viruses, Trojans and Worm Programs.
    Use the latest anti-virus software to scan for, and eradicate, any Viruses, Trojan and Worm Programs on your hard drive. Current anti-virus updates are available for download from most anti-virus software manufacturers' Web sites.

    Don't assume that your computer is free of these problems.
    That is, of course, unless you are certain without question. If you do not have an anti-virus program installed (and you should), many anti-virus software manufacturers make free time-limited versions available. Use them!

  4. Do back up your files.
    Back up all of your hard disk's critical data onto CD's, tape drive, floppy disks, hard drives or other form of storage media. You should not attempt to back up system files or registry manually, as Windows Me will perform this task for you during setup.

    Don't assume that your data is safe.
    Anything could go wrong during an upgrade, software glitch, hardware failure, power failure, almost anything. Recovering lost data and software can range from easy to terribly expensive, and you won't know the extent of the damage, loss or cost of recovery until you start doing it.

  5. Do uncompress all hard drives.
    Make sure that you uncompress any DriveSpace or DoubleSpace hard drive volumes before upgrading to Windows Me. If you're unsure whether or not your hard disk is compressed, run Scandisk, which will prompt you if it is.

    Don't try and upgrade a DriveSpace or DoubleSpace hard drive in Windows Me, you can't!

  6. Do uninstall power management or disk management tools.
    If you are running power management or disk management tools provided by your computer manufacturer, you should uninstall these programs before you upgrade.

    Don't leave any special hard drive related software installed.
    Disk tools such a Norton Utilities and other similar programs installed on your computer should be uninstalled and their files and directories removed.

  7. Do shut down all running applications, including anti-virus software.
    Close all programs and disconnect from the Internet before starting the installation process.

    Don't use using CTRL+ALT+DEL to end tasks before upgrading.
    Doing so may result in errors during the setup process.

  8. Do shut off any Bios anti-virus software through your Bios/CMOS setup.
    If your motherboard's Bios or CMOS Setup is equipped with anti-virus prevention at the Bios level, make sure that you have turned it off before starting the upgrade.

    Don't assume that the anti-virus routine at the Bios level has not been turned on. This is especially true if you are not the only person with access to the computer. This alone can cause the Windows ME installation to crash and not be recoverable.

  9. Do make certain that you have bootable floppy disks to access your system and its drives.
    If you read our experiences with the Intel OR 840 based system, you may have realized that until we secured the updated Adaptec drivers, we were without a way to access the CD-Rom drive.

    Don't assume anything, double check everything.
    This will avoid problems in the end. Remember, if something can go wrong, it usually will!

  10. Do take your time and create a plan prior to upgrading. Work up your game plan and double check everything in it! Then follow your plan.

    Don't do the upgrade yourself if you do not feel completely comfortable. You should fee completely comfortable with each aspect of the upgrade. If you have a question, or there's a lingering doubt, then don't attempt it without first contacting someone knowledgeable about computers.

  11. Do have those old Windows disks handy.
    Find your current Windows installation disks or CD before upgrading. Windows Me may ask you to insert one of these disks to verify that you are a registered user of a previous Windows operating system.

    Don't attempt an upgrade using a Windows ME upgrade CD on a freshly formatted hard drive. Without having your former Windows version disks or CD handy, you will not be able to complete the installation.

  12. Do read the readme and release notes.
    There are a number of readme.txt files and other setup documents located on the Windows Me CD-ROM for you to read to locate important information made available after the release of Windows Me. Take your time and read through them, as they may highlight a problem that is relevant to your installation.

    Don't ignore these important files. We have located numerous issues in these readme files that users could have used to avoid the many problems they have faced.

  13. Do start your computer before the upgrade and check it.
    Get your current operating system—Windows 95 or Windows 98—up and running cleanly, without problems, and then insert the Windows Me CD-ROM into your CD-ROM drive.

    Don't even attempt an upgrade or clean installation if there's even a hint of a problem.

  14. Follow the instructions.
    When your computer automatically detects the CD-ROM and asks if you would like to upgrade your computer to Windows Me, click Yes, then follow the instructions that appear.

    Don't interrupt the initial installation process unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.

  15. Choose between a Typical installation and Custom. Choosing a Custom installations of Windows ME will enable you to add features immediately rather than doing the installation and then learn later on that something is missing. This increases the risk of a problem installation.

    Don't arbitrarily uncheck components so as not to install them until you first check to determine if doing so will effect another part of your installation.

  16. Keep your old settings if you'd like.
    If you're doing an upgrade over a previous Windows installation and want to preserve your original preferences and settings, allow Windows Me to install itself into the same directory in which Windows 95 or Windows 98 was previously installed. You will be prompted to do this during setup.

    Don't alter the installation directory location unless you are certain this is what you want to do. All previous personalized settings will be lost if you do so, as well as any installation links to existing software installations.

  17. Create an emergency startup disk.
    When prompted by Windows Me Setup, create a Windows emergency startup disk. The Windows Me startup disk contains several useful MS-DOS utilities, including drivers that allow you to access your CD-ROM drive in case your hard drive becomes corrupted or if it fails.

    Don't ignore this step! If you do not create an Emergency Startup Disk, you will not have a method to get back into Windows ME or MS-DOS in the event of a failed installation.

  18. Save system files.
    When prompted by Windows Setup, save your system files in case you need to return to your previous version of Windows.

    Don't ignore this step either! Remember, at the moment, Windows ME is still a relative unknown quantity. If you do not save these files and you do not have a complete backup of your previous Windows installation, there is way to return to your earlier operating system.

  19. If you have heeded all of the warnings and done everything right, sit back and relax.
    As the Windows Me Setup progresses, it will automatically restart your computer when needed. Be sure not to add or remove any devices during the detection phase of setup, which occurs after the first reboot. Some models of computer may warn you that Windows Me is trying to modify your hard drive's boot sector, but this is a normal part of the installation procedure, and these changes must be accepted for Windows Me to install correctly.

We hope that you have benefited from our work and what has been published here. Upgrading is not that difficult as long as you plan your steps and then follow your plan!

If you need help resolving issues in the Windows Millennium Edition, the following may help you.

The Microsoft's Solution Center has been developed to resolve most issues relating to the new Millennium Edition.

You may also find specific issues that have already been developed by following this link: Known Issues in Windows ME.

If you are an AOL subscriber and are having trouble connecting to AOL, follow this link: Cannot Connect or Stay Connected Using AOL with WDM Modem.

 

 

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