Windows 2000 may look a lot like Windows 98, but pay close attention. Subtle setup and configuration differences will drive you absolutely over the edge if you’re not careful.

Case in point: Two weeks ago, I posed two questions in the Microsoft Challenge. Both questions dealt with common features. Surprisingly, the majority of TechRepublic readers stumbled over both features, making assumptions that didn’t match up with the reality of the new OS.

Question #1
When you insert a CD into a Windows 2000 machine, it plays automatically. Other Windows versions make it relatively easy to disable this feature, but it’s buried in Windows 2000. Where’s the switch that turns off AutoPlay once and for all?

Several readers suggested looking in Device Manager or the Removable Storage Manager. Sorry, but the checkbox that controls this feature in Windows 95 and Windows 98 is curiously missing in Windows 2000. Several other readers suggested tweaking the default action for Audio CDs on the File Types tab of the Folder Options dialog box. Another nice try, but that doesn’t stop data CDs from trying to install programs automatically when inserted.

Several readers suggested partial solutions, but Jcruson earns 500 TechPoints for his complete explanation of how to control this annoying feature:

“There is no user interface option to enable or disable the Autorun feature. To enable or disable the feature, you must edit the registry. Log onto the PC as the System Administrator and change the Autorun value in the following registry key:

“To disable Autorun, change the Autorun value to 0. To enable the Autorun feature, change the Autorun value to 1. Restart the computer.

“NOTE: The above method disables the Autorun feature completely. If you want to disable the feature on a per-compact-disc basis, you can hold down one of the SHIFT keys while inserting the compact disc.”

Question #2
Windows 2000 includes a handy defrag utility. How do you schedule it to perform a defrag session automatically, at regular intervals?

Was this a trick question? Perhaps—it definitely stumped more than half of TechRepublic’s normally sharp-eyed readers, who suggested a variety of options, including the Windows Task Scheduler. Don’t fall into the same trap they did! The Defrag utility included with Windows 2000 is a “lite” version of Diskeeper 5.0, from Executive Software. It works perfectly well, but the company deliberately crippled its ability to be added as a scheduled task. If you want to work around this limitation, upgrade to the full version for $39.95. For more information (including a free 30-day trial version), check out Executive Software .

Although there are plenty of good reasons to use Diskeeper, it’s not necessary. TechRepublic reader Jsecondino earns 500 TechPoints for pointing out a freeware alternative called AutoDefrag, from MorphaSys. This elegant utility, which runs only on Windows 2000, allows you to use the Task Scheduler to set up automatic defrag sessions. Thanks for the pointer!

Here’s Ed’s new Challenge
I’m in San Francisco today to attend the official launch party for Windows 2000. As soon as I get home, I’m upgrading my final beta release to the honest-to-goodness shrink-wrapped software. For this week’s challenge, I’m looking for your suggestions on the most cost-effective ways to upgrade an entire office to Windows 2000. Microsoft’s price list is terribly confusing, with all its upgrade and licensing options. Assuming you aren’t part of Microsoft’s Select program, what’s the best way to upgrade 10, 20, or more PCs to Windows 2000? If you think you’ve got the answers, tackle this week’s Microsoft Challenge .