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Window Shopping for Microsoft Upgrades

February 01, 2001|JEFF LEVY |

Microsoft Windows seems to be a work in progress. From time to time, Microsoft adds features and fixes bugs in its Windows products--Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows ME and Windows 2000.

Here's what you need to know about the various Windows products and the process of upgrading.

Windows 2000 is a robust operating system designed for business users. It was supposed to be named Windows NT 5.0 because it is the latest version of Windows NT. Somehow Microsoft saw fit to call it Windows 2000.

If you use a version of Windows NT, upgrading to Windows 2000 makes sense. It's very stable and is designed for use in businesses that need to network several computers. This type of networking involves one computer designated as a "server" and any number of workstation computers that are referred to as "clients." Printers, programs and data can be shared across the network.

Windows ME (Millennium Edition) is the latest version of Windows 98, and its target market is the home or small office. ME is the latest in a series of Windows operating systems that launched several years ago as Windows 95.

Since the launch of Windows 95, Microsoft has released what it calls "service packs." The service pack is an upgrade that usually addresses bugs or errors in the system.

If you purchase a new PC, it will most likely come equipped with Windows ME. The ME product has several new features, including the ability to "go back" in time. For example, if you install a new printer and the installation causes problems, Windows ME will allow you to go back to how things were before you installed the new printer.

ME also is set up to be "self-healing" in that it can repair damaged operating system files.

Is Windows ME a worthwhile upgrade for your current system?

The answer is: Perhaps. Windows 95 users should definitely hold off for a while. The ME upgrade for Windows 95 is not ready for prime time yet.

For Windows 98 users, the ME upgrade currently available has problems dealing with some older software programs, and it will not work with certain DSL and cable modem connections. Those problems are being resolved by the various DSL and cable companies.

A better choice for Windows 95 or 98 users is to upgrade to Windows 98 Second Edition.

You also have the option of upgrading your current Windows operating system by downloading a service pack from Microsoft. You can do this by going to and clicking on the Download button.

Service packs usually contain the fixes and upgrades available in the next edition of Windows. For example, you can get most, if not all, of the new features in Windows 98 Second Edition by downloading an available service pack for Windows 98.

The service pack file that you download is in the form of an executable file. The trick here is to notice where your PC wants to store the downloaded files.

You'll also need to make note of the name of the file being downloaded. If the file appears on your Desktop, you can just double-click to open and install the service pack.

If the download is placed in the My Documents folder, click on Start and then on Run. Click on Browse and navigate your way to the My Downloads folder.

Find the downloaded file and click on it to highlight it. Follow the prompts to open and install the service pack file.


Jeff Levy hosts the "On Computers" radio talk show from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on KFI-AM (640).

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