Differences between Win2K, Win9x, and WinNT

It's getting confusing, what with all these different operating systems that sound the same. So, just what are the differences between all the Windows *.*s? During this Guild Meeting, Erik Eckel explained this and more.

It's getting confusing, what with all these different operating systems that sound the same. So, just what are the differences between all the Windows *.*s? ON March 14th, Erik Eckel explained this and more. If you couldn’t join us then, enjoy the transcript and we hope to see you on our next live Guild Meeting. You can find a schedule of Guild Meetings in your weekly TechProGuild Notes TechMail, or on the Guild Meeting calendar.

It's getting confusing, what with all these different operating systems that sound the same. So, just what are the differences between all the Windows *.*s? ON March 14th, Erik Eckel explained this and more. If you couldn’t join us then, enjoy the transcript and we hope to see you on our next live Guild Meeting. You can find a schedule of Guild Meetings in your weekly TechProGuild Notes TechMail, or on the Guild Meeting calendar.

Note: TechProGuild edits Guild Meeting transcripts for clarity.

Welcome to the Guild Meeting
MODERATOR: Welcome to tonight's meeting! TechRepublic's own Erik Eckel is here to lead us on an exciting adventure where we'll discover what all the differences between the Windows *.*s are.

ERIK ECKEL: Who wants to jump-start tonight's conversation with the first question?

WULFHEART: Are we discussing the differences between Win95, Win98, WinNT, and Win2K? I'd honestly like to know which is the most reliable without requiring a large number of resources.

ERIK ECKEL: For those of you that don't know me, I'm the Community Editor for TechRepublic's AdminRepublic, and I've been working with Windows 2000 since September 99. Wulfheart, the applications you intend to run will make a large difference in which platform is best.

HUEVOS: What makes Win2000 more stable than NT or Win9x? I am assuming that it is more stable according to what people say.

MONDO: Is it more stable, or does it have an easier interface to use along with plug and prey?

CHARLESGILBERT: Is Win2K more hardware specific than previous versions?

WULFHEART: Let's say Internet services. I currently run a Web site, ftp site, telnet bbs, irc server, smtp server, POP3 server (and the list goes on) under Mandrake Linux. Running all of this takes next to no load on my computer (P166 128 MB RAM). I'd like to know what kind of hardware I would need to replicate the same services on a Windows machine, and which one would be best for it. I would assume NT or Win2K, but don't those have a higher overhead than, say, Win98? Which would be to my advantage?

What is crash resistant
ERIK ECKEL: Huevos, Win2K is much more crash-resistant than NT and Win9x. There are several reasons, including improved hardware and driver compatibility, inclusion of Enterprise Memory Architecture, support for the Windows Driver Model, improved clustering support, Intelligent I/O Architecture, and more. Mondo, Win2K also boasts a wide ranging collection of installation and configuration wizards. These interfaces greatly improve administration.

HUEVOS: So it behaves better?

ERIK ECKEL: Charles, Win2K supports more hardware than NT, is my understanding. Wulfheart, you'd need a much stronger system to run those apps on the Win2K platform. But you'd receive improved Windows security, configuration tools, remote administration capabilities, and more.

WULFHEART: That's what I was afraid of. What would be the benefits for me, then, to change to Win2K? What kind of system would be ideal for this? I guess what I'd really want to know is what the minimum requirements are for Win2K.

MIKKILUSA: W2K blows up when you put adaptec CD writer on it, why?

ERIK ECKEL: Huevos, in my experience it does, indeed, run better. I'm yet to see a Win2K blue screen.

MIKKILUSA: Cool installed it Friday and I have seen 3. I must be a prize winner for that?

WULFHEART: You're referring to using Win2K as opposed to Win98 or WinNT (the improved security, tools, etc.), right? What kind of tools are there that aren't in, say, WinNT? As a business application, obviously, what are some of the advantages to running Win2K as opposed to WinNT?

ERIK ECKEL: Mikkilusa, Support for CD writers isn't as widespread as I'd like to see. That's the only area where I've seen compatibility issues with the new "NT" platform.

HUEVOS: What caused the blue screens, Mikkilusa?

The blue screen of death
ERIK ECKEL: Wulfheart, you'd want a PII 350 with 128 MB of RAM minimum, I'd think. Mikkilusa, I would check my hardware if I were you. ;-)

MIKKILUSA: Installing Adaptec direct CD was unrecoverable totally even last good boot was unable to recover.

HUEVOS: Will MS try to phase out NT 4.0 and when would you estimate that they will stop supporting NT 4.0?

CHARLESGILBERT: Eeckel, Do you see every ?upgrading? to 2K any time soon or do you think they will wait?

WULFHEART: Wow! That high? I think they need to think about going back to the Win3.1/DOS days where you can load the "GUI" as you needed it! What about for the regular home user? I use Win98 right now, are the requirements much higher than what Win98's are?

ERIK ECKEL: Wulfheart, Win2K supports Encrypted File System, IPSec, Kerberos and more. Those are all improvements over NT 4's security. Yes, I think you'll see NT 4 being phased out.

HUEVOS: How soon do you estimate the phasing out will be?

WULFHEART: Wow. Kerebos support. Cool. I like the encrypted filesystem too. =) Does it say what kind of encryption it supports? Is it something like Blowfish or 3DES or something?

ERIK ECKEL: It'll be a long time until NT support ends, though. It's got what, 65%+ market share as a NOS. Wulfheart, minimum requirements are down around a PII 166 w/128 MB for the server platforms (64 MB for the client-Pro). I think companies will upgrade slowly, as it involves much more than just loading up the new OS. Huevos, try to find an NT 4 training class today! Good luck. The phase out has already begun.

CHARLESGILBERT: Is there an upgrade path or do you need a fresh install?

HUEVOS: Have you seen any incompatible software/hardware yet, besides CDRWs?

ERIK ECKEL: I haven't seen the encryption standard for Win2K yet.

I can’t understand you!
MIKKILUSA: I put that ADAPTEC ON. ALSO READ AN ARTICLE where same thing has happened to many till Adaptec releases the update at end of month then only if you own version 4.0. MONEY MONEY MONEY.

ERIK ECKEL: I'd have to check MS' site for that (security ranking of the NOS).

JPNERD: Partitioning with Win2K, can you use FAT32 for NTFS?

ERIK ECKEL: You can upgrade 9x and WinNT Workstation 4.0 to Pro.

CHARLESGILBERT: Does NT Server require a fresh install then?

MIKKILUSA: But other things I have seen look promising (don’t want be negative whole meeting hehehehe).

WULFHEART: OK, since I pretty much only use Win98 for games, how does Win2K handle games and DirectX and things like that? I've heard from a few people (this is a while ago mind you) that because Win2K was based on NT that the game support was really awful.

ERIK ECKEL: You can also upgrade WinNT Server 4.0 to Win2K Server/Advanced Server.  Use the WINNT.EXE and WINNT32.EXE switches as before, only with some new wrinkles.

MIKKILUSA: Here is a burning question. How do you make it so all apps you install are available to anyone who logs into that workstation?

DCOMAR: What’s the best way to implement Win2000 pro in a NT 4.0 environment?

ERIK ECKEL: Win2K Pro rocks at games. It includes updated DirectX and much more.

WULFHEART: Really? So it would be worth upgrading to, in your opinion, if all I ever do on it is play games and use Quicken with my online banking?

AWASA: What are the main reason companies that are satisfied with NT 4.0 upgrade to W2K in your own experience in new OS? Are there a lot of applications/utilities written specifically 4 W2K?

You have a great profile
ERIK ECKEL: Mikkilusa, I'd set up profiles for uses, but with Win2K IntelliMirror helps apps follow users around a network, regardless of where they log on.

MIKKILUSA: And admins dream we support Quake deaths match, cool, sure management will love it.

ERIK ECKEL: Implementing Win2K in an NT environment needs to be done VERY CAREFULLY!

DCOMAR: What are the dangers?

ERIK ECKEL: Entire courses and certifications will target this issue. There are many issues, including domain and namespace structures, the number of sites involved, the numbers of users, any directory structures currently being used, etc. Wulfheart, I don't know that I'd upgrade just for gaming and Quicken.

WULFHEART: Mikkilusa: If I was a manager, I’d make playing Quake during lunch mandatory, would reduce stress in the office.

CHARLESGILBERT: Could you not upgrade/install a Win2K machine a server at a time in an NT environment? Or will you have to upgrade all at once?

DCOMAR: What is the best way to start your Win2000 MCSE track?

MIKKILUSA: Next burning question. I have to use Microsoft client for NetWare in order to see printers on my Novell network, why?

ERIK ECKEL: I don't believe many apps are being written exclusively for Win2K, yet. The main reason folks will switch is they anticipate upgrading to the server platform later, and to truly enjoy all the benefits, Win2K must operate in a native environment. Charles, you can upgrade one at a time.

CHARLESGILBERT: So all three OSs can peacefully coexist on the same network? 98/NT/2K.

ERIK ECKEL: The best way to start the Win2K MCSE track is with the core four exams. MS has them listed on its site. Unless you're certified in the three qualifying MCP exams, in which case you can try the 70-240 exam (but you only get one shot!).

DCOMAR: I just became certified passing the 4.0 Server and Workstation test.

HUEVOS: On a side issue, are there any good companies to train for MCSE/anything Win2000?

ERIK ECKEL: MS Client for NetWare to see printers on a Novell network. Where's Sheesley when I need him? It could be because the client's needed to recognize the Novell's broadcast of which printers are out there. You could try posting your Q in our forums, you'll find an answer there!

ERIK ECKEL: Yes, Charles, all 3 can co-exist. DCOMAR, go get the NT in the Enterprise cert, then you can take 70-240 to knock out the first four Win2K exams.

MODERATOR: I'm afraid we can't condone the slapping of other chatters with trout... but perhaps smaller fish would be okay.

HUEVOS: Sorry.

ERIK ECKEL: Yes, Huevos, there are good companies for MCSE training. I'd recommend finding a MCSP or other Microsoft sanctioned training provider in your region! An entire boat load of Win2K exams are rapidly approaching on the horizon.

MIKKILUSA: Ok burner #3, why is it when I create a shortcut to Explorer from the NT directory it comes up different than from right-clicking on the Start button?

DMCCLINTOCK: New Horizons is pretty good for training (independent, non-solicited testimonial).

Searching for new horizons
ERIK ECKEL: Mikkilusa, I'm not sure I get what you're saying. Why is a shortcut different when created in Explorer than from where?

DCOMAR: I currently have 60-70 users running 98 as the client in my NT environment. I use Norton AntiVirus for software. My problem is every month I get the updated definition and I have to manually go to a workstation and run the update. Any advice on how I can run automatically??

MIKKILUSA: Mr. Clintlock in your area maybe. Here in Northwest new horizons is beyond lame.

ERIK ECKEL: New Horizons is good, as is Panurgy.

HUEVOS: Dcomar, I personally had a bad experience with New Horizons, but thanks anyway.

DCOMAR: I took the test at New Horizons.

ERIK ECKEL: Dcomar, check out the TechRepublic story (in SupportRepublic) on sending your users a shortcut they can double-click to trigger the update. Then all you need to do is fire through a reminder!

DCOMAR: Where, send me the link.

DMCCLINTOCK: Mikkilusa-> that's McClintock, like the John Wayne movie, only spelled correctly.

CHARLESGILBERT: Dcomar, why don't you script the update?

MIKKILUSA: OK when I create a shortcut to Explorer from the WinNT directory it comes up with everything unexpended like drives for example, but right-clicking on Start it comes up like Win9x or NT with all drives.

AWASA: Thanks, Eric after reading your article "Is a Win2K '240' in your future?" Feb 18, 2000. Passing it in one shot. If you fail it, taking the whole 4 - unit is going to be challenging?

ERIK ECKEL: I'm looking for it right now in another browser window.

DCOMAR: Thanks.

Window shopping
ERIK ECKEL: REAL CHALLENGING, I think, regarding the 70-240. It will cover an absolute ton.

MIKKILUSA: Ouch a mad dba but then when have you seen a happy dba?

BIDDLES: What Windows 2000 books do you recommend?

ERIK ECKEL: All of 'em.

MIKKILUSA: 4th burning question. I get banners when I print. It is turned off on printer and in my NetWare client. Where else do I look?

DMCCLINTOCK: On the desktop side, is Win2K the upgrade answer for both WinNT WS and Win98 users?

ERIK ECKEL: Seriously, I've found those from Microsoft Press are about the best out there, right now.

BIDDLES: Thanks.

ERIK ECKEL: Mikkilusa, is that on a Novell network? Dmmclintock, probably! Both of those OSs qualify for upgrading.


ERIK ECKEL: I'm not sure, then.

HUEVOS: What functionality would be lost w/Win2000 clients and Novell servers?

CHARLESGILBERT: Other than the security benefits talked about earlier, what other goodies can we expect from 2K that justify upgrading other than the phase out of NT?

JPNERD: What is the best nic card for Win2K on a home system?

MADDBA: Can't manage workstations or applications with Novell with Microsoft Novell client!

ERIK ECKEL: Novell uses a number of different print characteristics, and the printer is hosted by a Novell server, it sounds like, so a Win2K server or client probably wouldn't be causing the problem.

Do you believe in wizards?
HUEVOS: We like the 3Com 3C905B-TX 10/100 nic.

ERIK ECKEL: Charles, a host of improvements exist. Everything from wizards for common installation and configuration routines to directory services support for the administration of files, folders, users, sites, servers, computers, printers and more, to improved reliability and enhanced processor support to boosted clustering capability and more.

PCAMPANARO: Did you check pconsole for banner page?

MIKKILUSA: I run dual operating systems. NT no banner, Win2K banner, run on separate partition not with MS booter so could be MS.

ERIK ECKEL: The best NIC? 3Coms are outstanding, and I've got a Netgear that works like a charm. Huevos, that's a great card!

MIKKILUSA: Yes pcampanaro, no banner but good question.

ERIK ECKEL: Pcampanaro, thanks for the tip. That's what happens when you try to hold six simultaneous conversations-you sometimes forget the obvious!

CHARLESGILBERT: When our network was first set up, the powers that be put a dot and numbers in the domain names, i.e., .501BrilliantAdmin, will we have much trouble upgrading to 2K?

DMCCLINTOCK: From what I've seen in demos, the "self-healing" properties of Win2K make it more reliable and less likely to blue screen.

MIKKILUSA: Other then the CD-ROM burning thing, these others are trivial and I like what I have seen so far on Win2K, but the trivial things are what users freak out over, sad but true.

ERIK ECKEL: Other improvements include RADIUS support, DFS support, FAT32 support, native defragmentation capability, L2TP support, widespread MMC interfaces for common tasks, and improved subsystems. You will not want dot names in your Win2K setups, I don't believe, as Win2K uses FQDNs for namespace configuration, i.e., or Win2K is much less prone to blue screens. I've seen it get confused, eliminate all icons, then restore them with full Windows functionality with the offending program now closed.

It’s about that time
MODERATOR: 5 minute warning... in a few minutes, I'll announce tonight's winners!

EMOORE: When our office upgraded from Win95 to Win98, I was warned to do a fresh install of 98 instead of upgrading it from 95. What do you recommend when going from 98 to W2K?

HUEVOS: Is the self-healing part why it is so bloated/huge install?

ERIK ECKEL: I've upgraded several Win9x machines to Win2K Pro, and I haven't experienced a single problem. The only thing I'd recommend is you back up all the data you'd need in case something went wrong. Huevos, possibly, but I'm sure the lengthy install is also due to the need to load much new code.

JPNERD: Can you reinstall Win2K after a crash or do you have to reinstall?

EMOORE: What might I expect to happen doing an upgrade vs. a fresh install?

ERIK ECKEL: Emoore, during an upgrade, Win2K will prepare a report that does a good job of predicting any hardware and software incompatibilities it will experience. After receiving the report you can opt not to continue the install, or you can fire away. Give it an hour and fifteen minutes or so, and you should find it complete. Jpnerd, I'm not sure I understand the Q?

CHARLESGILBERT: Is the native backup any better than what is available now with NT?

ERIK ECKEL: Jpnerd, do you mean what happens if an upgrade goes bad, do you need to load Win98 then Win2K Pro? The answer would be no (the Win2K upgrade program simply asks that you place the Win98 CD in the tray, it checks it, then you're prompted to return the Win2K CD and continue the install). Charles, I haven't worked with the backup. Win2K does include "Disk Duplication" support, which is a nice way of saying it works much better with DriveImage and Ghost. That's your backup answer, if you ask me.

HUEVOS: So, did MS do it right this time?

JPNERD: If Win2K crashes can you save your data files or is it all lost?

Don’t forget to join us next time
CHARLESGILBERT: Do you feel the same for servers?

ERIK ECKEL: Jpnerd, you'd want to have already saved your files, because whenever a setup program fails, it's usually ugly, no matter who wrote it.

DMCCLINTOCK: Is there a price difference between an upgrade and a new install version?

ERIK ECKEL: Charles, I'd recommend backing up \\data shares, but for app configurations and all, I'm a believer in disk duplication. Yes, the upgrade is significantly less expensive (almost half the cost of the full product).

MODERATOR: Great questions tonight, everyone! Thanks for coming.
Our Guild Meetings feature top-flight professionals leading discussions on interesting and valuable IT issues. You can find a schedule of Guild Meetings in your weekly TechProGuild Notes TechMail, or on the Guild Meeting calendar.

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