The word is out: The Windows 2000 (Win2K) Release To Manufacturing (RTM) is coming soon. Just how soon, Microsoft isn’t saying, but here’s a hint: Microsoft is telling Win2K Corporate Preview Program (CPP) users that their licenses expire February 17, and the private CPP beta forum and all support for betas and release candidates (RCs) will end earlier—probably by the end of this month. CPP users are eligible to receive RTM evaluation code early. The code will cost $14.95 for both Win2K Professional (Win2K Pro) and Win2K Server, and Win2K Advanced Server (Win2K AS) will cost an additional $9.95.

Don’t jump up and run to the phones just yet though. Microsoft won’t accept orders for evaluation code until after the OS RTMs. I’ll pass the word here in UPDATE as soon as Microsoft sets a firm date. At that time, you’ll be able to place an order at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/preview.

Parallel Port Zip
Several folks have written to say that the manual installation workaround for the Iomega parallel port Zip drive that I mentioned last week didn’t work for them. However, two readers wrote back with details of how they got their parallel port Zip drives working. Craig Hook used the following instructions to configure his drive:

  1. Right-click My Computer, and click Properties.
  2. On the Hardware tab, click Device Manager.
  3. Expand Ports, click Printer Port (LPT1), then click Port Settings.
  4. Click Enable Legacy Plug and Play detection.
  5. Restart the computer.

Craig says this approach worked fine until he installed Iomega’s Zip Tools, at which point he developed some fairly serious problems. Stay away from Zip Tools and you should be OK. Norman Vance used a slightly different approach. He changed the Filter Resource Method on Device Manager’s Ports (COM and LPT)/ECP Printer Port/Port Settings to Try not to use an interrupt and then checked the Enable Legacy Plug and Play detection box. Then he restarted his computer, and his system detected the Zip drive.

I’m interested in hearing from anyone who can't get the parallel port Zip drive to work after trying both of these methods. And let’s all give a big Bronx cheer to Iomega for not providing a better solution to this problem.

Fast Video for Win2K Games
Am I the only Win2K user who plays games? As I’ve mentioned more than once in Windows 2000 Pro UPDATE, I’m using Win2K along with Windows 98 in a dual-boot configuration. I use this configuration mainly to support flight simulation products, which I use and review for Plane & Pilot Magazine. Recently, I received a product for review that was not compatible with my Matrox Millennium video card, so I replaced the card with a 3Dfx Voodoo3 2000, which I selected, in part, because drivers for the card are included with Win2K RC3.

Prior to installing Voodoo3, I could run several flight simulation products under Win2K, but I had to run them in the lowest display resolution (usually 640x480) and with most scenery options turned off. I'm now running the same products at 800x600 resolution with all options turned on, and I'm getting better performance than I did in low-resolution mode with the Millennium. Color me impressed!

In most other operations, Voodoo3 doesn’t produce that much of an improvement, although I'm seeing faster redraws of the desktop. If time and circumstances permit, after Win2K RTMs, I’ll try some benchmarks to see how much of a gain I’m getting with Voodoo3. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a fast 3D video card for Win2K, I can’t recommend Voodoo3 enough. I’m using the PCI version; the AGP version should be even faster. And kudos to 3Dfx (http://www.3dfx.com) for supporting Win2K—unlike some other video board vendors I could mention.