June 01, 2000
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio June 2000 Current Issue
June 2000 Tech filesPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:




Does Microsoft’s latest version of its operating system make sense for you?

The new Microsoft Windows is available. Should you upgrade? Will you be able to plan a meeting better if you use it?

Further complicating these questions, Microsoft has issued a gaggle of products under the Windows 2000 label. There are server and desktop/laptop versions, with different features for the wide range of computers found in every organization. Focusing on the operating system for your PC, here are some pros and cons of upgrading.

Yes, there are many.

  • Increased stability and reliability. Your system will freeze up a lot less and recover from errors a lot easier with Win2000.
  • Significantly increased data security. The ability to protect files and information on your desktop and laptop are increased dramatically. As you spend more time on the Internet, this increased security will be critical.
  • More ability to use up-to-date devices. A Win2000 computer is primed to use current interface and storage devices, such as DVDs (the high-density disks that play movies or store 10 times the amount of info of a CD), USB ports (the new standard for plugging in a printer, modem or other device) and PC cards (the credit cardsized interfaces that slide into the computer to add functions and peripherals).
  • More robust and standard device drivers. Whenever you add a new application, Windows looks for a device driver, a small piece of software that tells the computer how to handle the new program. Win2000 comes with a lot more device drivers, making the installation of new software faster and less problem-prone.
  • Expanded plug-and-play capabilities. Win2000 also has much expanded use of plug-and-play, allowing the computer to recognize and adapt to a new device that has been plugged into a USB, PC card or serial slot.
  • Better support for the mobile user. The ability to log on to your corporate computer from the road is increased with Win2000. You can access your actual desktop at work, its files and programs, and synchronize updates. This capacity adds enormous value to remote workers, giving them access to company resources, regardless of their location.
  • CONS
    You expected a Windows program to be perfect? Here’s where it is not.

  • It is space hungry. At least 64 MB of memory and a recent memory chip (two or three years old at most) are required.
  • It takes brains to run. The system is more complex, with new features to learn.
  • The installation is complicated. In some cases, you will need help configuring this new system, especially if you want to take advantage of its advanced features.
    With more and more attention turning to the Internet for computer tasks, Win2000 is not essential for everyone. You will be able to do the same work with Windows 98 or 95 if your focus is on Web-based applications.

    However, if you want the latest security, integration or device-ready computer, Win2000 is a giant step forward. Since loading it on my laptop, I feel like my computer has much the same power and sophistication as the server in my organization.

    Buyers of new computers will have little choice, as a large percentage of machines are being shipped with Win2000 installed. The rest of us will upgrade slowly often when our IT department makes the decision.

    Windows 2000 is a mature and powerful engine. Is it bug-free? Not yet. At the Comdex computer trade show this spring, a demonstration of the digital media feature froze up and could not be shown.

    Elliott Masie is president of the Saratoga Springs, N.Y.-based MASIE Center (, an international think tank focused on learning and technology.

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