Installing Windows 2000

Installing Windows 2000

Installing Windows 2000 can be a good or even a great experience. This is especially true if you have spent any time at all around Windows 95 or Windows 98. Windows 2000 is truly intuitive in the way it handles hardware detection and installation routines. It can, however, also be what nightmares are made of if you try and merely install it without any pre-installation preparation and hardware verification.

Pre-installation Considerations

A new installation, or “clean install”, on a checked and formatted hard drive seems to be the best way to install Windows 2000, especially in those instances where the original operating system, such as Windows 3.x, cannot be upgraded to Windows 2000 Professional. You should review the Advanced Setup Options as part of the process of determining how you intend to install Windows 2000.

As part of the consideration process, you should run the Windows 2000 Readiness Analyzer on your present system to determine if there are any hardware or software problems that you may be unaware of. You can learn more about the analyzer by clicking this link: Windows 2000 Readiness Analyzer

As an aside, you can upgrade from either Windows 95 or Windows 98 and you can also upgrade the Windows 2000 Beta 3 to the released version of Windows 2000 Professional.

If you need more information about upgrading from the Beta 3 version, then visit this link: Upgrading from Windows 2000 Beta 3

Upgrade vs. a New Installation

During a new installation on a freshly formatted drive, the setup process will install Windows 2000 and all of its components in new folders. When you install the operating system fresh, you place the operating system in a known state, presuming that you follow the suggestions we have provided.

That “known state” consists of the following:

  • You have checked your computer’s hardware to insure that it is compatible with Windows 2000 along with the software you intend to install by checking the Hardware and Software Compatibility Lists provided by Microsoft.

  • If there is a hardware compatibility problem and you need drivers, or the motherboard’s Bios needs to be replaced, this has been done. If you need more information regarding Bios issues, follow this link: Bios Issues and Windows 2000 Professional

  • The hard drive to be used for the installation has been partitioned (F’disked), new partitions installed and then formatted and checked for errors. If you need help with partitioning a hard drive, then follow either of these links: Partitioning for Windows 2000 or Formatting for Windows 2000.

  • A fresh installation will prevent you from migrating any problems that may relate to the former operating system, such as incorrect drivers, settings and incompatible files to Windows 2000.

Note: There have been several publications released that suggest that you can backup your previous operating system and installed applications such as Word, WordPerfect, Excel etcetera, install Windows 2000 and then restore those applications. This is simply not true!

You can backup your data files such as Word and WordPerfect documents, Excel spread sheets etcetera and then restore those, but the applications themselves must be reinstalled (presuming that they are compatible) and then the various documents, spreadsheets, pictures etcetera recovered.

As a rule of thumb, you should try and do a clean format and installation of Windows 2000 if any of the following are true:

  • Your computer is new and your hard drive is blank with no operating system installed on it.

  • Your current operating system is Windows 3.X, which does not support an upgrade to Windows 2000.

  • Your present operating system has any type of problems that may be related to drivers and/or settings or has a substantial number of orphan files from program removals or un-installations.

  • You have two partitions and would like to create a dual-boot configuration with Windows 2000 and your current operating system, such as Windows 95 or Windows 98. Windows 2000 must be installed on a different partition than your present operating system!

During an upgrade, setup will replace your existing Windows files but it will also preserve your existing settings and applications. This, however, can also lead to many other problems. Some Windows 9x applications will not be compatible with Windows 2000 and may not function properly in the Windows 2000 environment after an upgrade, and in the end, forcing you to do a clean installation. Some of these applications have special Windows 2000 files that are not installed when installing the application on a Windows 9x system.

Remember, just because it boots into Windows 2000 doesn’t mean that everything is working as it should. You may not find out until much later that the upgrade had not gone as you had intended, and you might discover this at a most inopportune moment. Microsoft has posted a list of software applications that have been tested on the Windows 2000 platform and found to be compatible.

You can find out more about those applications that are compatible by visiting this link:  Search for Compatible Software Applications.

You should upgrade only if any one of the following are true:

  • You are using a previous version of Windows that supports upgrading and you have verified that your current drivers and settings are compatible with Windows 2000; and

  • You want to replace your existing operating system with Windows 2000 to gain some of its additional features that you do not now have; and

  • There is an emergent need to retain your existing settings and file preferences such as for special applications and you have the necessary patches etcetera to insure compatibility.

If you choose to do an upgrade, as opposed to a clean installation, then visit the following pages.

  • Upgrading from Windows 95/98
  • Upgrading from Windows NT 4 Workstation

Preparing for the Installation

Regardless of which of the Windows 2000 operating system versions you intend to deploy, Windows 2000 Professional, Server, or Advanced Server—there are several steps that you need to take to ensure that your system is ready for the installation. There are four basic steps that should be followed before doing either an upgrade or a fresh installation:

  1. Check and make sure your computer can run Windows 2000.

    We heartily recommend that you can check the following link and determine whether your computer’s hardware meets the “minimum” specifications for Windows 2000. Keep in mind that these are minimum requirements, not the recommended hardware for this operating system. Minimum Requirements

  2. Run the Microsoft Readiness Analyzer on your computer. The Readiness Analyzer tool compares the devices and applications on your system against a cumulative list of known issues. Although this check also occurs during Windows 2000 setup, it is extremely helpful to run this tool in advance of attempting the actual installation. This will enable you to resolve any hardware issues before attempting the actual installation and ensure your installation will succeed.

    If you need more information about the Readiness Analyzer than follow this link: Learn more about the Microsoft Readiness Analyzer.

  3. Check and make sure that both your hardware and software are compatible with Windows 2000. It is relatively easy to insure the compatibility of both your hardware and software. When you run Windows 2000 setup, it generates a list of incompatible software and hardware. However, the tools available at the links below, such as the Readiness Analyzer, will help you to determine in advance whether or not you need updates. We strongly recommend that you check your hardware, and especially your planned third party software packages, well in advance of the time that you will need either your workstation or server.

    You can visit our discussion area regarding compatibility issues, which will include information beneficial to our customers using Windows 2000 on new recently delivered systems and servers, by following this link: Hardware and Software Compatibility.

    You can also visit the Microsoft Hardware and Software Compatibility site to obtain the latest information available from Microsoft. Check the Microsoft Hardware and Software Compatibility area

    You can view the Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) by opening the Hcl.txt file in the support folder on the Windows 2000 Professional CD. If your hardware isn’t listed, your planned installation may not be successful. You can review the most recent version of this list by visiting the Microsoft Web site: Current Hardware Compatibility List

  4. Make sure to install hardware and software updates, if necessary!

    The first place to start is with your motherboard and its Bios. Although we manufacture computers and servers, we also service other manufacturers equipment under contract. Of all of the fresh installs and upgrades that we have completed thus far on older equipment, nearly every one needed a Bios update in order for the motherboard to be compliant. You can find out more about Bios issues by following this link: BIOS Compatibility and Windows 2000 Professional

    The second most common problem are the device drivers for existing hardware such as modems, sound card, SCSI cards, video cards and controllers. Make sure that you take this first step and review your current system information (drivers, BIOS, and so forth) from your hardware or software manufacturer. Visit the compatibility area for tools to help you determine if you need updates. Again, it is particularly important to make sure you have the latest BIOS (basic input/output system) available from your computer manufacturer.

  5. If you are a business or corporate user, we urge you to evaluate the automated deployment options and tools available from Microsoft. Microsoft provides a selection of deployment tools that can help organizations and businesses deploy and setup Windows 2000 quickly, reliably, and affordably. Obviously, the decision whether to automate this process, and how to accomplish it, depends upon the size and complexity of the deployment.

    If you are deploying Windows 2000 Professional across a network and have System Management Server installed, you may benefit from review the pages at the following link Checking Windows 2000 Readiness with Systems Management Server 2.0 and downloading the special tool that Microsoft has made available “Windows2000readiness.exe”.

The next steps you take will be determined by:

  • Which version of the Windows 2000 operating system you plan to install; and

  • Whether you will be installing from the installation CD-ROM, for a second hard drive, over a network, or using startup disks.

Installing Windows 2000
The Process

When installing the Windows 2000 Operating System, you need to make several choices as part of the process. Fortunately, the Windows 2000 Setup wizard will guide you along in making most of them and in the process you will learn how to connect your Windows 2000 computer to a network.

For advanced setup issues, such as dual-booting, special file system configurations, partition issues and the like, you may want to review the available options at this link: Advanced Setup Options before starting the installation process.

When you begin the installation process of Windows 2000, you will have to provide information about how you want the operating system installed. The steps provided below will hopefully provide you with some guidance regarding this process. At the risk of repeating ourselves, to ensure that your installation has the best possible chance of success, the following tasks should have been completed at this point:

  • You have made sure that your hardware components meet the minimum requirements and if necessary have run the Microsoft Readiness Analyzer.

  • You have obtained and applied all of the necessary Windows 2000 compatible hardware and software changes, including upgrade packs, new drivers, etcetera.

  • If you are installing on a network, you have obtained all of the network information you require to connect to the network.

  • You have backed up your operating system in the event the installation fails and you need to get back to a usable workstation.

  • You have backed up your current data files, such as documents, email, pictures etcetera, so that you can recover them after the installation should it prove successful for you.

  • You have determined, if applicable, whether you intend to perform an upgrade or a clean installation Windows.

  • If you have chosen to install a clean installation of Windows 2000, you have identified any advanced Setup options you might want to use.

Before you begin, you should read the file Read1st.txt, which is on the Windows 2000 Professional CD. This file contains the most recent information then available after the creation of the Windows 2000 Help files as well as the Windows 2000 Resource Kit.

The Minimum Hardware Requirements According to Microsoft

According to documents published by Microsoft, the following hardware requirement are the bare minimums for a successful installation of the Windows 2000 operating system. Indeed, Windows 2000 will run on a 133 MHz Pentium based system, however the result hardly make the effort worth it unless you are out to prove a point. Our comments appear in red.

  • 133 MHz Pentium or higher microprocessor (or equivalent). Windows 2000 Professional supports up to two processors on a single computer.

    We would not recommend installing Windows 2000 Professional on any system with a processor speed less than 400 MHz.

  • 64 megabytes (MB) of RAM recommended minimum. 32 MB of RAM is the minimum supported. 4 gigabytes (GB) of RAM is the maximum.

    We recommend that 64 MB of RAM as the bare minimum, with 128 MB of RAM as the appropriate starting point.

  • A 2 GB hard disk with 650 MB of free space. If you’re installing over a network, more free hard disk space is required.

  • VGA or higher resolution monitor.

    We would recommend that you use nothing less than an SVGA video card, and if at all possible you should use an AGP video card with 8 to 16 MB of RAM on the video card itself.

  • Keyboard.

  • Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device (optional).

    We do not view a mouse as optional when either installing or using the Windows 2000 operating system.

For CD-ROM installation:

  • A CD-ROM or DVD drive.
  • High-density 3.5-inch disk drive, unless your CD-ROM drive is bootable and supports starting the Setup program from a CD.

For Hard Drive installation:

  • A second hard drive at least 1 gigabyte in size.

For network installation:

  • A compatible network adapter card and related cable.
  • All of the information and drivers necessary to access to the network share that contains the Setup files.

Note: Windows 2000 supports only those devices listed on the Hardware Compatibility List. If your hardware isn’t on the list, you will have to contact the hardware manufacturer and determine whether there is a Windows 2000 driver for your hardware device. You should not need to obtain drivers for most Plug and Play devices.

If you have any programs that use 16-bit drivers, you will need to obtain 32-bit drivers from the software vendor to ensure that the program functions properly after the upgrade or fresh installation.

Microsoft has developed, and continues to update, a list of all Windows 2000 Professional certified programs. You can view a complete listing by visiting this link: Windows 2000 Compatible Programs

Although we have not seen this on any grand scale, some software manufacturers have been developing and releasing upgrade patches and service packs to make their Windows 95 and 98 programs compatible with Windows 2000 Professional.

Network Information You Will Need

You only need to accomplish this step if your Windows 2000 workstation will be connected to a network.

You will need to decide whether your computer will be joining a domain or a workgroup. If you don’t know which option to choose or if your computer won’t be connected to a network, select the Workgroup option. If you do, you can join a domain after you install Windows 2000. If you select the Domain option, you will need to create a new computer account in that domain for this workstation or to reset your existing account, or ask your network administrator to do so.

If your computer is already connected to a network, you should obtain the following information before you begin Setup:

  • Name of your computer
  • Name of the workgroup or domain
  • TCP/IP address if your network doesn’t have a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol [DHCP] server.

Advanced Setup Needs

If you are currently using Windows 95, 98, Windows NT 3.51, or 4.0 and you choose to install a new copy during the Windows 2000 Setup, the Select Special Options screen appears during Setup. From this screen, you can select the Accessibility and Language settings.

If you want to modify the way Setup installs Windows 2000, you can click Advanced Options, and then perform any of the following tasks:

  • Change the default location of the Setup files.
  • Store system files in a folder other than the default folder “Winnt”.
  • Copy the installation files from the CD to the hard disk.
  • Select the partition on which to install Windows 2000.

We recommend that relatively new users rely on the default settings unless they feel entirely comfortable with the advanced settings choices.

Note: You will need to insert the location of the Windows 2000 Professional installation files, whether they are on a hard drive, CD-ROM drive or network location.


The Setup wizard will gather most of the information it needs, including regional settings (except for final locale settings), names, and passwords. Setup will then copy the appropriate files to your hard disk, check the hardware, and then configure your installation. In theory, when the installation is complete, you will be ready to log on to Windows 2000. Note though, during the setup process, your computer restarts several times during the setup process.

Obviously, how you start the setup process will depend on whether you’re upgrading or doing a fresh installation of Windows. When you have determined the type of installation you intend to do, you can go to the appropriate section below and follow the appropriate procedures.

If you would like and in depth review of the setup and installation process for Windows 2000 Professional, which includes all phases of the startup and installation process, hardware detection, plug and play issues, dual-booting and other important issues, then follow this link: Windows 2000 Professional Setup in Depth

If you are doing a fresh installation of Windows 2000 Professional then follow this link: Clean Installation of Windows 2000 Professional

If you are doing an upgrade to Windows 2000 Professional, then follow this link: Upgrade to Windows 2000 Professional

You may also want to review the Advanced Setup Options if you have not already done so.

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