Using VMware 2.0 to run Windows 98 from within Windows 2000 Professional is more effective than using a dual-boot arrangement to run two OSs. However, VMware doesn't work with Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me), so to run Windows Me and Win2K Pro on the same machine, you need to set up a traditional dual-boot. I set up such a system and discovered that Windows Me works well in a dual-boot.
Windows Me, Microsoft's replacement for Win98, offers one genuinely new and valuable feature, System Restore. This feature lets you roll back changes to the system files and return the OS to the last known good state. The OS also has a simplified network setup scheme that makes home networking easy, and the product bundles new multimedia and video-editing tools (although you can download these tools separately from Microsoft's download center—http://www.microsoft.com/downloads—for use with Win2K Pro or Win98).
You can consider Windows Me an upgraded version of Win98; therefore, the procedure for creating a dual-boot with Windows Me and Win2K Pro is the same as the procedure for dual-booting Win2K Pro and Win98. For information about the setup procedure, see Dual-Boot Blues, April 2000.
Upgrading from Win98
If you already have a dual-boot that runs Win2K Pro and Win98, you can easily upgrade to a Win2K Pro and Windows Me dual-boot. To upgrade, just insert the Windows Me distribution CD-ROM into your computer's CD-ROM drive and let the Setup utility run automatically (if your system doesn't support AutoRun, you can run setup.exe from the Windows Me distribution CD-ROM's root directory). When you run the Setup utility, the first screen that appears asks whether you want to upgrade your existing Win9x setup to Windows Me. Accept that option.
Windows Me Setup then checks all your system's disk partitions, which can be a lengthy process if your disk has several partitions. After Setup determines that your partition arrangement is OK, the program asks for the Microsoft product code, which you need to type in. Setup then determines whether your system has sufficient disk space for upgrading to Windows Me. A typical upgrade requires about 300MB, but the disk space that you need varies according to your system configuration. If your system doesn't have enough space, Setup prompts you to exit Setup, delete (or move) files to create space, then start Setup again.
When your system has sufficient space for Windows Me, Setup offers you a chance to save files that the system uses to uninstall Windows Me. These files require 125MB to 175MB of disk space, depending on your system configuration. Saving the system files lets you uninstall the Windows Me upgrade and revert to Win98 should you encounter a program that isn't compatible with Windows Me. If you decide to save the system files, Setup lets you choose the disk partition on which the files will reside.
Next, Windows Me Setup asks you for an empty 3.5 disk so that the program can create a startup disk; Setup erases the 3.5 disk if the disk isn't empty. Although you can opt not to create the startup disk, I recommend that you let Setup create the disk because you might need it to boot your system and restart Setup if something goes wrong.
In the next step, Setup copies files from the CD-ROM to the hard disk. Copying files can take as long as an hour, and when the process finishes, Setup restarts the computer. At this point, Windows Me has replaced Win98 in your dual-boot
When I upgraded my machine from Win98 to Windows Me, I encountered a problem with insufficient disk space, which I solved by deleting several files related to a previous problem with Microsoft Outlook. (For more information about the Outlook problem, see the sidebar Fixing My Outlook Problem, page 122.) The existence of more than one hardware profile also caused a problem during the upgrade. I had two hardware profiles on my machine because of an earlier test in which I used VMware to run two OSs. I had created a second hardware profile to use with VMware. When I subsequently set up my Win2K Pro and Windows Me dual-boot, Windows Me noticed the two profiles, asked me to choose one, then locked up. I solved this problem by rebooting the computer and starting Windows Me in Safe Mode (i.e., by holding down the F5 key during the restart), then deleting the VMware virtual profile. Then, I shut down the system and restarted it, and Windows Me started properly.
After Windows Me started, I experienced some minor annoyances with the OS. On the first boot-up after Setup completes, Windows Me uses Windows Media Player to show an advertisement for the OS's features. I didn't find an obvious way to interrupt the clip, but it lasts only a few minutes. I also found that Windows Me had replaced my Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) home page with a link to the Windows Me page on Microsoft's Web site. Additionally, I discovered that in a dual-boot, Windows Me sets itself as the default OS. However, you can easily change the default OS by shutting down Windows Me and manually selecting Win2K Pro from the boot-up menu. After Win2K Pro starts, go to the Control Panel System applet, click the Advanced tab, and open the Startup and Recovery dialog box. Change the default OS back to Win2K Pro.
Windows Me's UI is slightly different from Win98's UI. For example, in Windows Me, you access Dial-Up Networking from the Settings menu, which is easier than following Win98's Start, Programs, Accessories path. Windows Me also contains a Home Networking Wizard, which Figure 1 shows. The Home Networking Wizard—which you can find under Programs, Accessories, Communications—is similar to Win2K's Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) feature and lets other computers on a home network share your computer's Internet connection.
Windows Me's performance differs only slightly from that of Win98. Windows Me's System Monitor, which you access from Programs, Accessories, System Tools, reports that Windows Me uses only 12MB to 16MB more RAM than Win98 does. Application performance on Windows Me doesn't appear to be much different than on Win98.
For Win2K Pro and Win98 dual-boot users, is Windows Me worth upgrading to? In my opinion, no, unless you have a special need for the OS. Except for System Restore, Windows Me's features are available in Win98 with the appropriate downloads. Unless you're a software reviewer who constantly tries different programs and needs to return your system to a known state, I don't think System Restore alone is worth the effort of loading a new OS on your machine. However, dual-boots with Windows Me will soon be commonplace because Windows Me is the standard OS on many new PCs. If you buy a new system and want to set up a Win2K Pro dual-boot, chances are that you'll dual-boot with Windows Me. Windows Me works as well in a dual-boot as Win98. Minor annoyances that I cited earlier don't appear to create any long-term problems when you upgrade to a Win2K Pro and Windows Me dual-boot.