Troubleshooting Software Install Problems
Microsoft article Q310335 offers a solution to a problem that I’ve encountered numerous times on Windows 2000 platforms. When you start an installation of Microsoft Office, an Internet Explorer (IE) upgrade, or some other product, the Install Shield wizard might issue one of the following messages:

"The installation/removal of a previous program
was not completed. Setup must restart your computer
before proceeding with Installation. After windows
has been restarted, please run setup again to
complete installation. "
"A previous program installation was never completed.
You need to restart your computer to complete that
installation before running Internet Explorer Setup.
Setup will now close."

When you reboot and restart the installation, Install Shield then produces the same message, which prevents you from installing new software.

Install Shield issues these messages when a Session Manager registry key indicates that a file rename or delete operation is waiting for completion, even when no such operation is required. (Install and uninstall procedures issue requests to delete or rename files, and the system stores these requests in the registry.) To eliminate the error messages and get a green light from Install Shield, delete the offending data in the registry. Start a registry editor, find HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager, delete the value entry PendingFileRenameOperations, and restart the system. If PendingFileRenameOperations doesn't appear in the Session Manager registry key, you most likely have a different problem to solve.

Post-SP2 COM+ Rollup Hotfix
If you’re experiencing COM problems, you might want to install the most recent COM+ rollup hotfix for Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 (SP2) systems. The rollup includes 11 bug fixes that eliminate a known memory leak, problems with cluster nodes, security audit failures, and improper handling of error conditions. The following Microsoft articles describe several of the updates, some of which apply only to Win2K Server:

Most of the files and DLLs in the rollup have April 2001 dates. I didn’t find a download link, so I suspect that you can only get the update directly from Microsoft Support Services (MSS). For more information, see Microsoft articles Q295549 and Q289872.

Windows NT Phase-Out
It’s official—a couple of weeks ago, Microsoft announced the imminent retirement of Windows NT 3.51 (December 2001) and the pending retirement of NT 4.0 (June 2002): "Effective October 1, 2001, Windows NT Server 4.0, Windows NT 4.0, Enterprise Edition, and Windows NT 4.0 Client Access Licenses (CALs), will no longer be available through volume licensing programs. Additionally, all version, competitive, and product upgrade licenses for Windows NT Server 4.0 and Windows NT 4.0, Enterprise Edition will no longer be available in retail. However, licenses for full versions of Windows NT 4.0 Server and Windows NT 4.0 Enterprise Edition, as well as Windows NT 4.0 CALs, will continue to be sold in retail channels for the foreseeable future."

The announcement affects the price you pay for NT 4.0 licenses but doesn't change the current availability of upgrades and support. Upgrade licenses are traditionally much less expensive than full retail licenses. If you're not ready or are unable to abandon NT, you can pay a premium for the retail version of the OS and required CALs. According to Microsoft's product lifecycle page, the company will phase out NT 4.0 Workstation support by June 2002. At that time, you won't be able to obtain NT 4.0 Workstation updates or hotfixes unless you purchase an extended support contract before September 2002. You can read the NT 4.0 announcement at the Microsoft Web site.

If you're stuck with earlier versions of products that are on the expiration list (e.g., SQL Server 6.5), you can purchase a license for the current version of the product and install an earlier version. For more information, see the Microsoft Web site.

Client Software Obituaries
I think the official retirement of Windows 9x is long overdue, but I’m aware that many of you still run these outdated, unreliable platforms. The drop-dead date for Win9x client upgrades is June of 2002, which, not surprisingly, follows closely behind the official release of Windows XP.

Win95, Windows CE Services 2.x, Office 95, Publisher 95, and old versions of Visio updates and downloads won't be available after December 31 of this year. Win98, Win98 Second Edition (Win98 SE), and Windows NT 4.0 Workstation updates will go away as of June 2002, unless you sign up for an extended support contract. The end of this year also marks the permanent expiration of MS DOS, Windows for Workgroups (WFW), and NT 3.51 Workstation. You can research product lifecycle information for most Microsoft offerings at the Microsoft Web site.