The Windows NT Magazine Lab recently received the first beta release of NT 4.0. We decided that a great way to test it and look for bugs was to install it on our production machines. All the portables and some workstations in the Windows NT Magazine Lab are running the NT 4.0 beta.

We haven't found any serious problems yet, beyond the occasional application crash or network problem--but that's what we get for using beta code. However, we think you need to be aware of a few things we've learned.

On a system with Windows 95 already installed, you have to use the DOS lock command to release the file system to the NT installer. This step prevents long filenames from standing in the way. In addition, despite the fact that NT 4.0 now has a PC Card Manager on the Control Panel, you still can't insert or remove cards while the system is running.

One plus to the new NT version is its built-in file synchronization software, the Briefcase, which enhances usability for remote applications. You also get an Exchange client and a host of other remote-computing features, such as Remote Access Service (RAS) Autodial and Hardware Profiles (for information about these features, see "Windows NT 4.0," Windows NT Magazine, April 1996).

With NT 4.0's new multimedia capabilities, the Compaq LTE 5200 and similar machines can finally give you what you've been looking for. For instance, 4.0 includes drivers for the LTE video system (in fact, the NT 3.51 drivers on the FTP site will clobber your configuration), and audio CDs start playing automatically when inserted. The only multimedia problem we found is that the new Pinball application doesn't work well with sound enabled: It halts and jumps, making the game difficult to play.