Continuing our review of Microsoft's Windows Millennium Edition,
with a deeper look at the PC Health issues..

Let's start with Microsoft's overhaul of Windows Help.

Finally Microsoft has seen the light, by making it easier for new users to use Windows! Microsoft has given the Windows help system a major overhaul. As noted earlier in this review, the Windows Millennium Edition Help Center looks and acts like a Web page, and puts all of the help and tutorial related issues in one place. In the near future, according to Microsoft, we may see a cooperative effort with hardware companies to integrate help for a variety of peripherals and other devices.

When you click the start button and select Help, instead of seeing the typical Windows Help menu, you will find an easy to navigate menu of items which have been broken down into easy to understand categories.

As you can see, Help begins with helping you with "Using the Windows Millennium Edition" software and continues right on through to a search engine that enables you to search the Windows ME Help index as well as all of Microsoft's Online Support areas.

Now let's take a look at that System Restoration Utility we mentioned earlier!

Farther down in this review we have provided an illustration of how to avoid presumptive problems with recently installed software and the mess it can make of your computer and your settings. Let's take a look inside..

Just click the Start button and select Help as noted above.

Once the Help page has loaded, scroll down to "Fix a problem"..

Now select "Use System Restore"

The next screen you would see would be this one...Welcome to System Restore

Here you are provided with two options, "Restore my computer to an earlier time", and "Create a restore point".

For now, let's select Restore my computer to an earlier time..

The next screen you would see would be this one...Choose a Restore Point

When the System Restore Utility window opens you are presented with a calendar that defaults to the current date or the last date a checkpoint was stored. A check point is a snapshot of your critical system files, especially the registry, which is stored by this utility on your hard drive. By default the restore utility stores a checkpoint every 10 hours (presuming that your computer is running), and/or once each day when your computer starts successfully. One of the nice features of this utility is that it also provides you with the ability to create your own Restore Point any time you wish. You will see below why this is important.

When you add to this System File Protection for 80 or more of your systems critical files, the combination of the two will provide you with a pretty formidable defense against errors created as the result of failed software installs and other problems.

Remember our illustration above regarding a software installation that's made a mess of your computer and its settings, here's a quick scenario for you.

  1. Before loading any software, click Start, then click Help.
  2. Now select Use System Restore.
  3. Now select a Create a restore point, follow the instructions and note the date and time of the restore point..
  4. Now add your software package, see if your like it and check your computer for anything odd or unusual.
  5. Now the dilemma, after a couple of days you find that you either don't care for the software or its made a mess of your computer, its files and your settings..arrgh!
  6. To reverse this mess, first uninstall the software package.
  7. Now just click Start, then click Help.
  8. Now select Use System Restore.
  9. Now select Restore my computer to an earlier time.
  10. After the restore process has completed, Windows ME will request that you restart your computer.
  11. Ahhhhh, back to normal!

The AutoUpdate Tool..

Another aspect of Windows ME's health related improvements is how it handles file updates. Although the Millennium Edition retains the manual method of obtaining updates, (clicking Start and then Windows Update while online), which had been incorporated into Windows 98, it also has a feature that will obtain critical updates for you automatically while you are online doing other things.

If Windows ME is anything like its predecessors, updates, upgrades and patches are inevitable, and at times they can be difficult to keep up with. The AutoUpdate tool should alleviate this headache by allowing you to automatically download file updates in the background while you are online. Although some critics have said that this only works if your modem is inactive, we have tested this on a 56K connection (51K actual), and were able to do email and some surfing without too much difficulty. Your mileage may vary! Once a download has completed, Windows Me will notify you and ask if you would like to install it now. If you have any applications open, close them and then give Windows ME the go ahead to finish the installation. And yes, before you ask, none of these updates will be downloaded without Windows ME first asking you if it's okay!

The added Zip/Unzip Utility...

Although you can't really call the addition of a zip/unzip utility health related, it is a new and extremely useful addition to the Windows user interface, and it comes in handy when you need to unzip a file update not related to Windows.

Let's get into some home networking...

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