Windows 2000 is a superb choice for notebooks, with better power management capabilities than any previous version of Windows. Some fascinating new features, such as support for Offline Files and Folders, make it easier (at least in theory) to synchronize files between notebooks and networks.

Do you know the secret?

Shortly before the official launch of Win2K, Ed Bott challenged TechRepublic members to provide the key to successfully upgrading a notebook to the new OS. In this January column, he shared the answer.

Ed will return next week with a brand-new Microsoft Challenge.

Two weeks ago, I asked for your advice on the best way to make sure the Win2K upgrade goes smoothly on your portable PC. TechRepublic member Vbailey was the first to come up with the correct answer—worth 500 TechPoints:

“The magic is in the BIOS! The first thing I did was to upgrade the laptop’s BIOS. ACPI needs control for Win 2000 to really work well.”

That’s absolutely correct. Windows 2000 is extremely demanding when it comes to power management. The Windows 2000 Setup program goes through a three-step BIOS compatibility test before installing support for the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) code in Win2K. If it finds even a minor incompatibility, it will refuse to install ACPI support, and your power management simply won’t work.

Check with the vendors
Don’t rely on a hardware vendor’s vague assurance of ACPI compatibility. For the last two years, hardware makers have been notorious for claiming the existence of ACPI support without delivering a solution that would work with Windows 2000. Even a brand-new notebook may need a BIOS update before ACPI will work.

Start by searching your notebook vendor’s Web site for up-to-date compatibility information. The most popular notebook makers— NEC , IBM , Compaq , Toshiba , Dell , and Micron —have Windows 2000-specific sites that can get you to the right information quickly. After you’ve confirmed that you have an ACPI-compatible BIOS, install Windows 2000. To confirm that ACPI support is installed, look in the System Devices branch of Device Manager for the Microsoft ACPI-Compliant System entry. If it’s not there, your system failed the compatibility test, and you need to ask the hardware maker for a compatible BIOS upgrade. (The only way to add ACPI support after you’ve run Setup is to reinstall Windows 2000.)

After you’ve confirmed that ACPI support is available on your notebook, open the Power Options applet in Control Panel and turn on hibernation support. That gives you the option to save the contents of memory to hard disk when you shut down your system.

The payoff? Unlike Standby mode, your system uses no power when hibernating; you can pick up right where you left off when you reboot, because Windows restores all your open programs, including the data files you were working with when you hibernated.