As a seasoned Windows 2000 user who made the full migration to the new OS long ago, I have a hard time remembering life with Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 9x. Recently, an associate asked whether I think it's a good idea to upgrade a notebook to Win2K Professional. After reviewing all the benefits that Win2K provides for mobile users—benefits that I have come to take for granted—I answered "Yes" without reservation.

Win9x gives you Plug and Play (PnP), broad hardware support, and power management, but its reliability and security leave much to be desired. NT provides security and reliability, but it lacks all the features that make Win9x attractive. Win2K addresses its predecessors' shortcomings by combining the best of the Win9x platform with the best of NT and adding several features that make life better for the road warrior.

If you migrate from NT 4.0, one of the first benefits that you notice is that Win2K extends your battery life significantly. Win2K supports a new power management technology called Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI)—a great improvement over NT's non-existent power management features and Win9x's Advanced Power Management (APM) support. You can configure different power consumption schemes with the Options applet in Control Panel. Although I spend most of my time on the go, I don't often power off my notebook when I finish working, and yet I rarely find myself scrambling for a power outlet.

Another great benefit is Win2K's improved hardware support. To gain the reliability of NT, you often had to sacrifice hardware capabilities such as USB and infrared support. Win2K's USB and PnP support make it much easier to use peripheral devices with your notebooks. Win2K’s infrared support gives you access to many great capabilities, from wireless networking to painless synchronization with handheld devices. I love that I don’t have to carry a cable and a cradle when I need to sync my Win2K Pro notebook with my Hewlett-Packard Jornada.

Win2K's power management and hardware improvements are justification enough for most mobile users to migrate to Win2K Pro, but several other benefits close the deal. Offline files and folder support lets you cache local copies of data on your notebook's hard disk and automatically synchronize everything when you connect to the network. (To learn more about this feature, see Offline Folders.)

Win2K Pro supports the Encrypting File System (EFS) to increase security and protect your data if your notebook is lost or stolen. And with Win2K Pro, setting up dial-up and VPN connections is much easier than with NT or Win9x.

I have presented just a few of the reasons why I consider Win2K Pro to be the ideal platform for mobile users. Of course, as with any migration, you can expect to endure some headaches. For example, determining hardware and software compatibility is critical, but it's hardly fun. Even with the initial pain involved in setting up and configuring Win2K Pro, I wouldn’t go back to NT if you paid me.