First Impressions of Windows 2000 Beta 3
Windows 2000 Beta 3 is purported the "final feature Beta," meaning this release includes all features that will be included in the final code.
Editor's Note: This is the first of a series that will look at installing server and workstation versions of Windows 2000 and placing it into production-like use. Neither Microsoft nor ENT encourages users to deploy Windows 2000 Beta 3 into production networks: These articles are intended to help readers understand the impact a Windows 2000 deployment could have within their own infrastructure.
Each beta release of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows 2000 has been incrementally more robust and feature rich. Of course each version also introduced more problems that needed to be resolved. Windows 2000 Beta 3 is purported the "final feature Beta," meaning this release includes all features that will be included in the final code. It also means Microsoft is left with an ever-growing list of bugs that now must be hunted down and exterminated in short order.
Within my network, GlinchNet Labs (www.glinchnet.com), we tackled the task of finding a realistic minimum configuration for Windows 2000 Server. We dug up a pair of Pentium 120 systems with 1.2 GB disks and 32 MB of RAM. Once upon a time, these machines were considered to be a viable configuration for Window NT Server, even though we expected that Windows 2000 wouldn’t install without some upgrades. We realized that these machines might not be realistic today, but we wanted this test to serve as a barometer to answer one of the questions that many shops surely have.
We have a habit of doing two things to every Windows NT server we build: The first is to copy the install files to the local hard disk prior to installing so the installation files are available locally for adding features, protocols, drivers and so on; the second is to build the operating system twice on the hard disk -- first in a directory named WINNT and again in a directory named WINNT-EM -- used to restore the system should the first system become corrupt.
We immediately ran short of disk space and had to erase the I386 directory from hard disk. We had to revert to an install from CD-ROM. We soon hit our second problem: Windows 2000 requires 64 MB of RAM to build. Gone are the days of severely under-configuring an operating system to get a feel for how it works. We upped the memory to 64 MB, and we were able to continue the installation from the point where it previously terminated. With this configuration, it took a long time to install but it did succeed. We then upped the memory to 96 MB.
The Windows 2000 footprint for this system was 864 MB. There is enough space on a 1.2 GB disk to build Windows 2000 Server -- barely. With our minimum configuration system, we found that we could do neither of our "best practices" install techniques. Because this system would only be used for testing, this limitation didn’t bother us too much. But for any real configuration, it's best to plan for a minimum 2 GB of disk space, but 4 GB would be more realistic.
Our initial experience with Windows 2000 Beta 3 receives high marks, but we are continuing to test it. Looking ahead, we'll be getting input from my test team on using Windows 2000 Professional in a Novell NDS environment and on laptops. In the next issue of ENT, we'll perform an installation of Windows 2000 Server onto a system at the opposite end of the spectrum, a new 400 MHz dual-processor server.
Early Impressions of Windows 2000 Beta 3
+Overall installation was trouble free and straight forward with minor user intervention
+Plug and Play works well and is a good addition
+The addition of the device manager in the control panel solves many hardware nightmares
+No reboots to commit changes to Disk Administrator or
+Applications that need changes or updates flash up in a help dialog and direct you to a current Web page to get the update
+Most tested applications worked without updates, including Office 97, Office 2000, FrontPage 98 and FrontPage 2000
+Help inside Windows 2000 is more intuitive
+Beta 3 ships with the Resource Kit on the CD as well as other clients for manageability and security
+Integration with Internet Explorer 5.0 was seamless, but we had to turn off Active Desktop and view as Web page inside Explorer for performance reasons. This was on a 64 MB, 266 MHz Intel workstation
+Server installation wizards that come up at first boot walked us though setting up DHCP, DNS and Active Directory. This was better than the command line utilities in Beta 2.
+Defragmentation tools are included
-The Administrator Tools in the control panel was less than intuitive, especially for experienced Windows NT administrators
-Network Properties is not easy to find
-Norton AntiVirus 5.0 needs to be upgraded for the new file system. Symantec Corp. does not yet have a version available to replace it.
-Request a hardware upgrade or replacement to install on lower-end systems