Windows Millennium Edition (ME) and Windows 2000 Professional are desktop operating systems (OS) that were released in the year 2000 by Microsoft Corporation, the unveiling of Windows 200 Professional preceding that of Windows ME by a few months. Both operating systems were improvements on the existing Windows software at the time, i.e., the Windows 2000 Professional was a follow-up on the Windows NT 4.0 and the Windows ME was the successor of Windows 98 Second Edition (SE). They are still two of the most important operating systems for Windows users, although targeted at different categories of users. While the Windows 200 Professional is generally meant for the corporate and business institutions, the features of Windows ME suit the home and general computer users. In this paper we will discuss the main features of the two operating systems in order to compare the two. While doing so, we shall look at the types of application programs they need to run; their networking environment; and their overall manageability, reliability, and security requirements.
Key Features comparison of the two operating systems would become clearer if we look at the key features of both the systems
Being designed specifically for the home-computer user, Windows ME includes special features for improved digital media and entertainment capabilities, enhanced home networking tools, PC Health applications and a redesigned Help Center to make setup and troubleshooting faster and easier. An important design feature that distinguished Windows ME from Windows 2000 P. is that the former is based on the DOS-based Windows 9x series rather than the Windows NT. However, Windows ME has borrowed some features developed for Windows 2000 such as the desktop interface and the new TCP/IP stack that connects to the Internet. (Kennedy, et al.)
Digital Media and Entertainment
Apart from built-in tools for handling multimedia video, still photography, music, and games, including Windows Movie Maker (WMM), Windows Image Acquisition (WIA), My Pictures folder, and Windows Media Player, Windows ME has a special new feature called "Windows Movie Maker." WMM enables transfer of digital and analog video from a video camera or a VCR to the computer's hard-disk drive for editing and provides basic video editing capabilities such as shot detection, linear editing, and video clip drag-and-drop. (Ibid.) Improved Windows Media format video compression technology permits storage of up to 20 hours of video on 1 gigabyte (GB) of disk space. The WIA feature facilitates the acquiring and importing of images from cameras and scanners while the "My Pictures folder" is useful for storing and organizing images and visual snaps. (Ibid.)
Several other multi-media features such as the Windows Media Player (WMP) that had to be installed previously as separate software are now part of Windows ME. For example, the WMP has been especially redesigned for Windows ME and includes a new graphical interface, better audio and video playback capability, and support for the latest audio, video, and image file formats. It also has enhanced a music jukebox feature that provides digital audio playback, recording, music library management tools, and enhanced play-list functionality.
Another important feature of the Windows ME is its home networking feature. Due to the proliferation of the Internet and the prevalence of more than one computer in the majority of homes there is a rising demand for home networking capability in operating systems. Windows ME caters for the demand by providing a Home Networking Wizard that makes it easier to set up and use a network of home computers. Home networking features in Windows ME enables sharing of files, printers, and scanners, and Internet Connection Sharing (ICS), enabling multiple computers to share a single Internet connection simultaneously. Other home network technologies that are supported by Windows ME include Home Phoneline Networking Alliance, LAN technology, and Wireless Ethernet. Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5.5 browser is included with Windows Me that provides enhanced security, improved printing capabilities (including print preview), better overall performance, and improved search capabilities. Microsoft's instant message service, MSN Messenger and its e-mail program, Outlook Express are part of the browser.
Several reliability and performance enhancement features exist in Windows ME that are designed to help maintain PC health. These include System File Protection that protects critical system files from being overwritten accidentally or through unauthorized access. If a critical system file is overwritten or corrupted during application program installation, Windows Me restores the file-protecting system stability while allowing the application to install without error. For non-technical users, Windows ME's PC Health features offer welcome relief from system headaches, and most of these features work entirely in the background. The System Restore component automatically backs up crucial system files when the computer is idle, making a snapshot of the system state every 10 hours of computing time. Snapshots can also be created at will by running the System Restore Wizard. (Mendelson)
Fast Boot & Auto Update
Windows ME was the first Windows operating system to implement fast-boot capability. As any computer user would testify fast Boot speed is an important OS function. The fast-boot capability of Windows ME when combined with optimized fast-boot PC hardware can give boot times of less than 30 seconds. Auto Update feature in Windows ME checks for critical OS updates and alerts the availability of downloads whenever the computer is connected to the Internet. It is, however, possible to disable the AutoUpdate feature from the Control Panel.
Key Features of Windows 2000 Professional
Windows 2000 Professional is based on the Windows NT architecture is the follow-up OS to Windows NT 4.0 just as Windows ME is a follow-up to Windows 98 SE. It much more stable that the 95/98/Me line of operating systems and also up to 20% faster, while its main drawback is its relative incompatibility with certain software. (Gottesman) Windows 2000 Professional is part of the larger Windows 2000 product family that includes Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Advanced Server, and Windows 2000 Datacenter. Although Windows 2000 Professional can be used with stand-alone computers, its full range of features can only be utilized if it is used in conjunction with a Windows 2000 Active Directory domain. (Kennedy, et al.) Some of the key features of Windows 2000 Professional are described below:
Windows 2000 Professional provides a number of security features for local and network applications. Its Encrypting File System (EFS) component permits encryption of folders and files. It is a particularly valuable feature for mobile systems where confidential data may be at risk should the computer be lost or stolen. It supports Internet-standard security features such as IP Security, Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol, and Virtual Private Networking, which is particularly important for businesses such as banks and law firms. Smart card support (that provide tamper-resistant, highly portable storage for digital identification and credentials) is integrated into Windows 2000 Professional. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) is employed in Windows 2000 Professional that enables users to create secure paths or pipelines over the Internet to their corporate local area networks (LANs). This feature can significantly reduce long-distance dial-up charges and is particularly useful in mobile computer applications.
Reliability is an essential requirement for business users in a personal computer. Windows 2000 Professional incorporates fundamental improvements in the OS core to prevent crashes and the ability for the operating system to repair itself. This is reflected on comparative reliability tests by ZD Labs, which show that the average system uptime of Windows 2000 Professional was over 50 times that of Windows 98 and 17 times that of Windows NT Workstation 4.0. Windows 2000 offers features that prevent drivers or applications from crashing the system. What's more, there's no need to reboot a machine after installing new hardware or changing network settings.
Windows 2000 Professional includes manageability features that make it easier for IT professionals to deploy, support, and update the OS over the network. Centralized management utilities, troubleshooting tools, and support for self-healing applications all make it simpler for administrators and users to deploy and manage desktop and laptop computers. In some ways, the OS combines the power and security of Windows NT, with the traditional ease of use of Windows 98. ("Top Ten Reasons..")
The Windows 2000 Professional's speed especially in running most popular business applications is much faster as compared to the Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows ME. ZD Labs tests show that with 64 MB of RAM, Windows 2000 was 32% faster than Windows 95 and 27% faster than Windows 98. The tests also showed that it is also significantly faster than Windows NT 4.0 with 32 MB of RAM. (Ibid.)
The OS is particularly suited for Mobile office workers using laptops as it facilitates working from remote places away from the office. One can work with the Offline Folders and on files offline and easily synchronize them later. Windows 2000 also manages notebook's laptops power optimally so batteries last longer. (Ibid.)
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