When the Microsoft engineers sat down at the drawing board to brainstorm about the features they wanted to include in Windows 2000 Professional, one of the primary objectives became ensuring that the operating system was designed to be used effectively on laptop computers. While I won’t say that Windows 2000 Professional is the best operating system for your laptop, I will say that it’s a much more appropriate environment for laptops than Windows NT ever was. In this Daily Drill Down, I’ll show you a few of the benefits that Windows 2000 Professional will provide when it is used on your laptop.
The benefits of Windows 2000 Professional on your laptop
If you regularly use a laptop, one of your primary concerns is battery life. Windows 2000 Professional addresses this concern with improved battery metering, new power-down options, and dual battery support. In addition, all Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) compatible laptops and some Advanced Power Management (APM) systems allow you to put the laptop into standby mode.
To configure your system for a laptop power scheme, select Power Options from the Control Panel. As shown in Figure A, you can select Portable/Laptop from the Power Schemes tab.
|Use the Power Schemes tab to select a Portable/Laptop power configuration.|
In addition to the new power saving features, Windows 2000 Professional’s hibernate mode will quickly become a favorite feature for salespeople and other mobile users who need to get their laptops up and running quickly for presentations. When this setting is enabled, a snapshot of the system is saved to the hard drive. When the computer is restarted, all of the programs, settings, and network connections are restored in as little as 30 seconds.
To configure your laptop for hibernate mode, select Power Options from Control Panel. As shown in Figure B, you can enable hibernate mode by clicking on the Hibernate tab and selecting Enable Hibernate Support. This mode will require 64 MB of disk space, but the benefits should easily outweigh giving up a small amount of your drive.
|Enabling hibernate support will save your laptop’s system state before it shuts down, preserving your work in progress.|
Another outstanding option that was added to Windows 2000 Professional is the ability to store offline files in a cache on the hard drive. Should users need to work offline due to downtime or lack of an available network connection, they can access the selected offline files and work on them. When they connect to the network, the files will automatically be synchronized.
Configuring your laptop to use offline files is very straightforward. After opening My Computer, select Tools | Folder Options.
As shown in Figure C, you enable offline files by clicking on the Offline Files tab and selecting Enable Offline Files. You should also select Synchronize All Offline Files Before Logging Off. This selection will ensure that your laptop has the latest versions of the offline files for you to use should you need to do so.
|It’s easy to set your laptop to synchronize offline folders with the network.|
In addition to these powerful features, laptop users will also enjoy the reliability of Windows 2000 Professional, increased security, the ability to use NTFS, hot swappable devices such as CD-ROM and floppy drives, docking or undocking the laptop without turning it off, and dynamic configuration of PC cards.
Hardware requirements for laptops
The minimum hardware requirements for Windows 2000 Professional are the same for laptops as they are for other workstations:
- Pentium 133MHz processor
- 32 MB of RAM (A minimum of 64 MB is recommended)
- 2-GB hard disk with at least 650 MB of free space
- VGA video display
In addition to these rather thin hardware specifications, all of the system’s hardware must be compatible with Windows 2000 Professional. To ensure compatibility, verify that all of the hardware components are listed on the Windows 2000 Professional Hardware Compatibility List (HCL). A current version can be found on Microsoft’s Web site.
Installing Windows 2000 on your laptop
After verifying that the hardware in your laptop meets the hardware requirements for Windows 2000 Professional and eliminating all hardware compatibility issues, you’re ready to begin installing the operating system. If your laptop can boot from the CD-ROM drive, insert the Windows 2000 Professional CD-ROM in the drive and restart the computer. If you must manually initiate the Setup routine, boot the laptop with a DOS disk and run D:\I386\WINNT.EXE.
The Setup routine will copy the necessary files to memory and prepare to install Windows 2000 Professional. The initial screen is informational and asks you to press [Enter] if you wish to continue the installation. To abort the installation without installing Windows 2000 Professional, press [F3].
The installation begins with the Welcome To Setup screen. Here, you can set up Windows 2000 Professional by pressing [Enter], repair a damaged Windows 2000 Professional installation by pressing R, or quit the installation without installing Windows 2000 Professional.
Microsoft requires that you pay for and license Windows 2000 Professional. The license agreement is displayed on the next screen, and you are provided with the opportunity to read it. If you agree with the terms set forth in the agreement, press [F8] to continue the installation. If you do not agree with the terms, press [Esc] and the installation will end.
As the installation continues, the tasks become more technical. The following screen gives you the opportunity to configure the laptop’s hard drive. If you want to install Windows 2000 Professional on the partition that is highlighted, simply press [Enter]. If you want to create a partition in the unpartitioned space, do so by pressing C. If you want to delete the selected partition, you must press D. After configuring the partitions to meet your needs, select which one to use for Windows 2000 Professional and press [Enter].
The subsequent screen gives you a summary of where Windows 2000 Professional will be installed and asks you to select a file system. Windows 2000 Professional can use FAT16, FAT32, or NTFS. After selecting a file system appropriate for your needs, press [Enter] to continue the installation and format the partition. Depending on the size of the partition, this can take quite a while to complete.
Once the partition has been formatted, installation will continue as the Setup program copies the necessary files to the Windows 2000 Professional folders that have been created on the new partition. The laptop will restart after the file copy is finished.
GUI portion of setup
After the laptop restarts, the GUI-based portion of the installation will begin, detecting the laptop’s basic hardware, such as the keyboard and mouse.
The Windows 2000 Professional setup continues by letting you configure the regions and languages that are appropriate for your installation. You can configure the regional options, such as your locale, language, and the way numbers, currency, time, and date are displayed on your laptop by clicking on the upper Customize button. The lower Customize button lets you add locales and define the keyboard layouts that will be used on the system. You can also specify the hot key combination that allows you to change between locales on the fly. For this example, I accepted the default settings.
At the next screen, fill in your name and the name of your organization. After clicking on Next, you will be asked to provide the 25-character Product Key.
The subsequent screen asks you to enter the computer name and provide the Administrator user password. After confirming the password, click Next to continue.
The Modem Dialing Information screen lets you enter your country or region. You will also be asked to enter your area code and the number that your PBX requires for you to obtain an outside line. You can also select tone or pulse dialing.
As the installation continues, you can modify the date and time, as well as select the appropriate time zone. You can also deselect the option to automatically adjust the clock for daylight savings time.
After configuring these basic system settings, the Setup program attempts to automatically configure the network settings that will be used to access your corporate network. Once that is finished, the Setup program will complete a final set of tasks before removing the temporary files that were used to install Windows 2000 Professional. When the Setup program has completed its configuration and settings, you should remove the installation CD-ROM and click Finish to restart the laptop.
After the laptop has restarted, you will be prompted to select the method that users will use to access the laptop. The default setting allows you to select just one user for the laptop and also lets you enter and confirm the local password for this user, allowing automatic login. If you don’t mind the lack of security, you can enter the user name and password. The more appropriate choice, however, might be to select the option that requires users to enter a user name and password before they are able to use the laptop.
At this point, your installation of Windows 2000 Professional is complete. You can log in using whichever method you selected and then configure the system to meet your personal needs and preferences.
Windows 2000 Professional is definitely a solid choice for your laptop operating system. The improved power management features, offline files, security, and reliability of the operating system will prove over and over again that you have made a good operating system selection.
If you’re interested in more detailed information about laptop requirements and setting up Windows 2000 Professional, read these TechProGuild Daily Drill Downs and Daily Features:
- Installing Windows 2000
- "Learn to set up Windows 2000 Professional unattended installation"
- "Understanding and maintaining laptop batteries"
- "Adjusting power consumption on laptops"
- "Extend the life of your laptop's battery"
- "Are you sleeping? Understanding hibernation, standby, and other power management features"