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Windows Me
Part of the Microsoft Windows family
Microsoft Windows Millenium Edition Logo.svg
WindowsME.png
Screenshot of Windows Me
Developer
Microsoft
Releases
Release date September 14, 2000 (info)
Current version 4.90.3000 (September 14, 2000) (info)
Source model Closed source
License Microsoft EULA
Kernel type Monolithic kernel
Support status
Unsupported as of 11 July 2006[1]

Windows Millennium Edition, or Windows Me (pronounced either as a word, /miː/ me, or like an acronym, /ɛm iː/ em-ee), is a graphical operating system released on September 14, 2000 by Microsoft.[2] Support for Windows Me ended on July 11, 2006.[1]

Windows Me was the successor to Windows 98 and, just like Windows 98, was targeted specifically at home PC users.[2] It included Internet Explorer 5.5, Windows Media Player 7, and the new Windows Movie Maker software, which provided basic video editing and was designed to be easy for home users. Microsoft also updated the graphical user interface and the shell features and Windows Explorer in Windows Me with some of those first introduced in Windows 2000, which had been released as a business oriented operating system seven months earlier. Windows Me could be upgraded to Internet Explorer 6 SP1, but not to SP2 (SV1) or Internet Explorer 7, and Windows Media Player 9 Series. Microsoft .NET Framework up to and including version 2.0 is supported, however versions 2.0 SP1, 3.x, and greater are not. Office XP was the last version of Microsoft Office to be compatible with Windows 9x.

Windows Me is a continuation of the Windows 9x model, but with access to real mode MS-DOS restricted in order to speed up system boot time.[3] This was one of the most publicized changes in Windows Me, because applications that needed real mode DOS to run, such as older disk utilities, did not run under Windows Me.

Compared with other releases of Windows, Windows Me had a short shelf-life of just over a year; it was soon replaced by the Windows NT-based Windows XP, which was launched on October 25, 2001.

Contents

History

In 1998, Microsoft stated that there would be no version of Windows 9x after Windows 98.[4] In 1999, however, Microsoft announced a new version of Windows 9x, that was later revealed to be codenamed Millennium. In 2000, this was released as Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me).[5]

At least 3 betas of Windows Me were available during its development phase. On 24 September 1999, Microsoft announced that Windows Millennium Beta 1 was released.[6] Windows Millennium Beta 2 was released on 24 November 1999, and added a couple of new features such as System File Protection and Game Options Control Panel. Several interim builds were released between Beta 1 and 2, and added features such as automatic updates and personalized menus. Beta 3 was released on 11 April 2000. The general availability date was 31 December 2000. Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows Millennium Edition on 31 December 2003. Extended support ended on 11 July 2006. Windows 98 Extended support ended the same day.[7] Windows Me also contained the Microsoft Java Virtual Machine, which caused it and Windows 98 to be pulled from the Microsoft Developer Network at the end of 2003.[8] At launch time, Microsoft announced a time-limited promotion[9] from September 2000 to January 2001 which entitled Windows 95 or Windows 98 users to upgrade to Windows Me for $59.95 instead of the regular retail upgrade price of $109.[9]

Shortly after Windows Me was released, Microsoft launched a campaign-initiative to promote Windows Me in the United States, which they dubbed the Meet Me Tour. A national partnered promotional program featured Windows Me, OEMs and other partners in an interactive multi-media attraction in 25 cities across the United States.[10]

New and updated features

Windows Me RTM CD
Windows Me Beta 1 CD

Digital media

  • Sound Mixing: Windows Me provided drivers to allow multiple applications to play sound simultaneously, unlike Windows 98.[citation needed]
  • Windows Image Acquisition: Windows Me also introduced the Windows Image Acquisition API for a standardized method of allowing Windows applications to transparently and more easily communicate with image acquisition devices, such as digital cameras and scanners. WIA intended to improve the configuration and the user interface for interacting with scanners and such devices, (which were previously supported by the TWAIN standard) and simplify writing device drivers for developers. WIA also includes support for USB still image capture device classes such as scanners and cameras through the Picture Transfer Protocol. [11]
  • Windows Movie Maker: This utility is based on DirectShow and Windows Media technologies to provide Microsoft Windows computer systems with basic video capture and edit capabilities. It provides users with the ability to capture, edit, and re-encode media content into the Windows Media format, a tightly compressed format which requires a minimal amount of storage space on the computer's hard disk, when compared to many other media formats.[12]
  • Windows Media Player 7 offers many new features and capabilities compared to previous versions, including the WindowsMedia.com guide and radio tuner which are an integral part of the player, as well as integrated jukebox and player capabilities, and interactive skins to allow consumers to personalize the look, feel, and operation of the player by changing the user interface.
  • Windows DVD Player: Microsoft has included a redesigned version of their DVD player in Windows Me. Unlike the Windows 98 version, the new Windows Me version supports software decoding for playback of DVD movies without a dedicated decoder card, as well as a completely revamped look and faster load times.
  • Image Preview: In Windows Me, images can be viewed by using the Image Preview utility. It allows users to rotate an image, print or zoom in/out an image. Image Preview supports images with .BMP, .DIB, .EMF, .GIF, .JPEG, .PNG, .TIF and .WMF file formats.
  • Games: Windows Me includes version 7.1 of the DirectX API, and also offers several new games: Internet Backgammon, Internet Checkers, Internet Hearts, Internet Reversi, Internet Spades, Spider Solitaire and Pinball. The last version of DirectX available for Windows Me is DirectX 9.0c, which was released on 7 April 2006.

Networking technologies

  • New TCP/IP Stack: Windows Me includes the Windows 2000 networking stack and architecture[13] which was known to be more reliable, full-featured, stable and offered better performance. Support for networking over FireWire, IrDA, a network diagnostic troubleshooter and a new Home Networking wizard are also included.
  • The Home Networking Wizard is designed to help users to set up a computer that is running Windows Me for use on a small home network. This includes setting up Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) on a computer running Windows Me so the computer can share a connection to the Internet with other computers on the home network.
  • Dial-up Networking component was updated in Windows Me, and provides several enhancements while maintaining the desired features of prior releases of the operating system. The user interface had been reworked to provide all configurable parameters in one convenient location. The user interface now included three new tabs: Networking, Security and Dialing. To improve dial-up networking, Windows Me includes built-in support for the Connection Manager dial-up client. Using the Connection Manager Administration Kit (an optional networking component in Windows 2000 Server), network administrators can pre-configure and deploy dial-up networking connections, by means of a Connection Manager service profile, to Windows Me–based client machines.
  • Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS) is both a software component and an interface-design specification. It is a core Windows component that manages network device drivers and their communication with network protocol stacks such as TCP/IP. NDIS version 5.0 for Windows Me was enhanced to provide programming interface parity with NDIS version 5.0 in Windows 2000. This means that the programming interfaces that the author of a network device driver uses are the same for both of these Windows platforms.
  • Universal Plug and Play: Windows Me introduced support for Universal Plug and Play, often shortened to UPnP.

System utilities

  • System Restore: Windows Me introduced the "System Restore" logging and reversion system, which was meant to simplify troubleshooting and solve problems. It was intended to work as a rollback and recovery feature so that if the installation of an application or a driver adversely affected the system, the user could undo the installation and return the system to a previously working state. It does this by monitoring changes to Windows system files and the registry. System Restore protects only the operating system files, not documents, and therefore is not a substitute for a backup program.
  • System File Protection: First introduced with Windows 2000 (as Windows File Protection), and expanding on the capabilities introduced with System File Checker in Windows 98, System File Protection aimed to protect system files from modification and corruption silently and automatically. When the file protection is in effect, replacing or deleting a system file causes Windows Me to immediately and silently restore the original copy. The original is taken from a hard drive backup folder (%WinDir%\Options\Install) or from the Windows Me installation CD, if the cached copy of files on the hard disk has been deleted. If no installation CD is in the drive, a dialog box alerts the user about the problem and requests that the CD be inserted. System File Protection is a different technology from System Restore and should not be confused with the latter. System Restore maintains a broad set of changed files including added applications and user configuration data stored repeatedly at specific points in time restored by the user, whereas System File Protection protects operating system files with no user input.
  • System Configuration Utility allows users to manually extract and restore individual system files from the Windows Me setup files. It has also been updated with three new tabs called "Static VxDs", "Environment" and "International". The Static VxDs tab allows users to enable or disable static virtual device drivers to be loaded at startup, the Environment tab allows users to enable or disable environment variables, and the International tab allows users to set international language keyboard layout settings that were formerly set via the real-mode MS-DOS configuration files. A Cleanup button on the Startup tab allows cleaning up invalid or deleted startup entries.
  • System Monitor has been updated with a Dial-Up Adapter section. Users can now monitor items such as Connection Speeds, Bytes Received or Transmitted / Second.

Other

  • Graphical User Interface: Windows Me featured many updated graphics (most of them were just change of theme and other tweaks). The standard background was changed from an emerald color to a light blue, with a drawing in the upper left corner saying "Windows ME". The title bar was slightly tweaked, giving it a fading look. The title bar that came standard on Windows ME was a dark shade of blue on the left, fading into a light blue color on the right. This gave it a modern feel. Most other graphical changes were very minor.
  • Automatic Updates: The Automatic Updates utility automatically downloads and installs critical updates from the Windows Update Web site with little user interaction. It is set up to check Windows Update once every 24 hours by default. Users can choose to download which update they want, although high-priority updates must be downloaded and installed.
Windows Me operating system box cover shot
  • Improved power management and suspend/resume operations: Windows Me features significant improvements for improving cold boot time, pre and post-logon boot times and time required for resuming from hibernation.[14] It also supports OS-controlled ACPI S4 sleep state (hibernation) and other power management features without manufacturer-supplied drivers.[15]
  • Compressed Folders: Windows Me includes support for ZIP files through a shell extension known as Compressed Folders. Originally introduced in the Plus! 98 pack for Windows 98, this feature allows users to create, access and extract files from ZIP archives similar to a regular folder in Windows. The user can also restrict access to files with a password.
  • On-Screen Keyboard: Originally introduced with Windows 3.1, a program called On-screen Keyboard has been added, which makes it possible to input characters using the mouse instead of the keyboard. This feature is useful for computers that use a tablet as the primary pointing device or for accessibility purposes.
  • A new Help and Support program has also been added, replacing HTML Help in Windows 2000 and Windows 98. The Help and Support Center is entirely HTML-based and takes advantage of a technology called Support Automation Framework (SAF), that can show support information from the internet, allows collecting data for troubleshooting via WMI and scripting and for third parties to plug into Windows Help and Support [16]. Several other support tools also shipped with Windows Me.[17]
  • USB mass storage drivers: Windows Me is the only operating system in the Windows 9x series that includes generic drivers for USB mass storage devices.[18]
  • Windows Me also includes Internet Explorer 5.5 and various changes to the Windows Explorer shell, inherited from Windows 2000. For example, Search was now integrated into Windows Explorer, rather than being a stand-alone application, and IE 5.5 supported a new Print Preview feature.[19] It also shipped with the MSN Messenger Service.

Removed features

Real mode DOS

One of the most publicized changes in Windows Me was that it no longer included real mode MS-DOS.[3] With real-mode support removed, Windows Me can boot up a few seconds faster, without loss of Windows functionality. Autoexec.bat and Config.sys are no longer executed during startup by IO.SYS, and the system cannot boot to a MS-DOS command prompt or exit to DOS when Windows has booted. Because of this, applications that needed real mode DOS to run, such as older disk utilities, did not run under Windows Me. Additionally, real-mode drivers (one of which was ANSI.SYS) can no longer be loaded in Autoexec.bat or Config.sys. Additionally, win.com was no longer executed during the startup process; instead it went directly to execute VMM32.VXD from IO.SYS.

In Windows 98, the Autoexec.bat and Config.sys files were used to set global environment variables. In Windows Me, these files are scanned for changes to environment variables that must be imported because the files contain various settings and preferences that configure the "global environment" for the computer during the boot phase and when you start a new MS-DOS Virtual Machine (VM). To specify or edit values in the autoexec.bat, the user must edit the following registry value:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\SessionManager\Environment

Windows Me was the last version of Windows to include a real-mode MS-DOS subsystem, although access to it was restricted. The Windows Me CD-ROM and startup disk allowed booting to real-mode MS-DOS.

A third-party patch was made to put real-mode DOS back into the Windows Me environment.[20] It works by modifying three files, IO.SYS, COMMAND.COM and REGENV32.EXE, thereby providing users with a boot process like that of previous versions of Windows 9x.

Other components

Several features of its predecessors did not work or were officially unsupported by Microsoft on Windows Me such as Automated Installation,[21] Active Directory client services,[22] System Policy Editor,[23] Microsoft Fax,[24] QuickView and DriveSpace. Personal Web Server and ASP are not supported on Windows Me since it was aimed exclusively at home users. However, its predecessors, Windows 98 and Windows 95 could run Personal Web Server.[25]

Unlike other Microsoft Windows releases at the time, Microsoft never published a Resource Kit for Windows Me.

System requirements

Minimum system specifications

  • Processor: Pentium 150MHz
  • Hard drive space: 320MB
  • RAM: 32MB

Recommended system specifications

Relation to other Windows releases

Windows Me was complemented by NT-based Windows 2000, which was aimed at professional users. Both operating systems were succeeded by Windows XP with their features unified. All Windows Me support, including security updates and security related hotfixes were terminated on 11 July 2006. Support for Windows 98 and Windows 98 SE was also terminated on that date. Microsoft ended support for these products because the company considers them obsolete and running these products can expose users to security risks.[27]

Many third-party applications written for earlier editions of Microsoft Windows, especially older games, run under Windows Me but not under Windows 2000. This fact has become less relevant with the sharp decline in popularity of Windows Me after the release of Windows XP, which features a compatibility mode which allows many of these older applications to run.

If an installation CD-ROM from the Windows 2000 family is inserted into the drive of a computer running Windows Me, the user is prompted to upgrade to Windows 2000 because Windows Me has an older version number than Windows 2000. While this is not technically so (Windows Me was released several months after Windows 2000), Windows Me is in fact derived from the older, monolithic MS-DOS codebase (Windows 4.x) while Windows 2000 is the first of the NT 5.0 family, making the latter an upgrade.

Windows 2000 cannot, however, be upgraded to Windows Me. If an installation CD-ROM from Windows Me is inserted while running Windows 2000, the user will receive an error message that Setup cannot run from within Windows 2000. The user is prompted to shut down Windows 2000, restart the computer using Windows 95 or 98, or start MS-DOS and then run Setup from the MS-DOS command prompt.

Windows XP, which is NT-based, became the successor to Windows Me. It also closed the gap between consumer Windows and Windows NT. In addition, no service packs for Windows Me were released.

Along with Windows 2000 from the NT family, Windows Me was the last version of Windows that lacked Windows Product Activation.

Criticisms

Windows Me was criticized by users for its instability and unreliability, due to frequent freezes and crashes. A PC World article dubbed Windows Me the "Mistake Edition" and placed it 4th in their "Worst Tech Products of All Time" feature.[28] "Shortly after Me appeared in late 2000", the article states, "users reported problems installing it, getting it to run, getting it to work with other hardware or software, and getting it to stop running."

The System Restore feature sometimes ended up restoring malware which the user had previously removed, since its method of keeping track of changes is fairly simplistic.[29] By disabling System Restore, the malware could be removed, but the user lost all saved restore points.

System Restore also suffered from a bug in the date-stamping functionality that may cause System Restore to date-stamp snapshots that are taken after 8 September 2001 incorrectly. This can prevent System Restore from locating these snapshots and can cause the system restore process to fail. Microsoft has released an update to fix this problem.[30]

References

  1. ^ a b "Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, and Windows Me Support ends on 11 July 2006". Microsoft. http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifean18. Retrieved 2006-06-10. 
  2. ^ a b "Microsoft Announces Immediate Availability Of Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me)". Microsoft PressPass - Information for Journalists. Microsoft. 2000-09-14. http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2000/sept00/availabilitypr.mspx. Retrieved 2008-08-02. 
  3. ^ a b "Overview of Real Mode Removal from Windows Millennium Edition". Microsoft. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/269524. 
  4. ^ Paul Thurrot (15 December 1999). "Paul Thurrot's SuperSite for Windows: The Road to Gold: The development of Windows 2000 Review". SuperSite for Windows. http://www.winsupersite.com/reviews/win2k_gold.asp. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  5. ^ Paul Thurrot (5 July 2000). "Paul Thurrot's SuperSite for Windows: The Road to Gold: The development of Windows Me". SuperSite for Windows. http://www.winsupersite.com/reviews/windowsme_gold.asp. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  6. ^ Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows: The Road to Gold: The development of Windows Me
  7. ^ Microsoft Support Lifecycle - Windows Millennium Edition
  8. ^ Paul Thurrot - Microsoft to Retire Windows 98, Others. eWeek, 8 December 2003
  9. ^ a b Microsoft Announces Promotional Pricing For Windows Millennium Edition Upgrade
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms630368(VS.85).aspx
  12. ^ http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/expertzone/communities/movie.mspx
  13. ^ Windows Me Networking features
  14. ^ Improving "Cold Boot" Time for System Manufacturers
  15. ^ Windows Power Management
  16. ^ Support Automation Framework
  17. ^ Windows Millennium Edition support tools webcast
  18. ^ Microsoft USB FAQ
  19. ^ Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows: Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me) Beta 3 Reviewed
  20. ^ "Real DOS-Mode Patch for Windows Millennium By Reines [MFD]". http://www.oocities.com/mfd4life_2000. 
  21. ^ Automated Installation Support in Windows Me
  22. ^ Directory Services Client Is Not Included with Windows Me
  23. ^ The Policy Editor Tool Is Not Supported in Windows Millennium Edition
  24. ^ Microsoft Fax not supported on Windows Millennium Edition
  25. ^ "Getting Started with Active Server Pages". MicroSoft. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/297943. 
  26. ^ "Minimum hardware requirements to install Windows Millennium". Microsoft. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/253695. Retrieved 2006-10-16. 
  27. ^ "Windows End of support for Windows 98, Windows Me, and Windows XP Service Pack 1". Microsoft. http://microsoft.com/windows/support/endofsupport.mspx. Retrieved 2006-10-16. 
  28. ^ Dan Tynan (26 May 2006). "The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time". PC World. http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,125772-page,2/article.html. Retrieved 2007-08-19. 
  29. ^ Mary Landesman. "Disabling System Restore to Remove Viruses". About.com. http://antivirus.about.com/od/windowsbasics/a/systemrestore.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  30. ^ Checkpoints that you create after 8 September 2001 do not restore your computer

External links


Simple English

Windows ME is the Millennium Edition of the Microsoft Windows operating system. Windows Me is based on Windows 98. Windows Me was based on MS-DOS (as were Windows 98 and Windows 95), and is meant for people using computers in their homes. Windows 2000 and Windows Me are similar in looks, but Windows Me has features that families find useful, while Windows 2000 was meant for businesses. It was released near the year 2000 because it was the Third Millennium, calling it Windows Millennium Edition.








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