Adventures with Win2K Pro

I finally upgraded my primary desktop to Windows 2000 Professional last weekend. I know that sounds strange, given that I'm writing this column, but my day-to-day experience with Win2K Pro has been on my notebook: I've been running the new OS since beta 2. Upgrading my desktop was a daunting task, with the long list of warnings that Win2K generated when it checked the system for compatibility. But as many computer-literate people are, I'm often my own worst enemy.

I finally decided to add a SCSI DVD-ROM drive I've had sitting on my desk for 4 months so that I could load the last few editions of the MSDN Technical Library I get on DVD. Simple enough, I thought. I installed the drive, added the driver for the secondary SCSI controller, and rebooted the system. Of course, nothing is that simple.

After rebooting, I got random system lock-ups that required a hard boot to recover from, always within the first few minutes after restarting the system. I uninstalled the DVD drive, to no avail. Because I had installed a new driver (even though I had already removed it), I thought that reinstalling Service Pack 5 (SP5) might solve the problem, but the system continued to lock up. Of course, I started doing this at 11:00 P.M. Saturday, so at 2:00 A.M Sunday, I had a nonfunctional computer. I decided to do the repair of last resort—reinstall Windows NT 4.0 as an Upgrade installation. But the gremlins got me again—the NT installation program couldn't see the original NT installation. So I went to plan B and installed a fresh version of NT on another drive, then copied the seemingly dead files that error messages on the original installation boot pointed to. It didn't help.

At that point, I decided to do a fresh install of Win2K Pro. The reinstall went pretty well, if a bit slowly, and I discovered that the video card in the machine was just barely supported under Win2K and that the original vendor was out of business (a Number Nine Revolution 4 card). So at the moment, I'm forced to run in 1600x1200x16-bit at 80Hz, with a very odd screen presentation. I've ordered a new state-of-the-art video card, so we'll see how it turns out.

Last week's tip about moving the default installation directory generated a lot of email from people who were already using the procedure. They wanted me to point out that the procedure won't work with any application that doesn't prompt for an installation directory (such as most Microsoft applications), and it will confuse some other applications. They suggested that users just switch back and forth between the stock location settings as needed.

This week's tip:
This tip doesn't involve the registry, but it does change the way your system looks. You might have noticed that under Win2K, the application shortcut keys in menus and dialog boxes aren't available. Well, actually, the shortcuts are there, but you have to press the Alt key to display them. This is probably not a big problem because most people who use shortcut keys use them as second nature, without checking the menu to determine what the key is—except in the case of a new application with new shortcuts. And stopping to press the Alt key for the shortcut menu can be somewhat intrusive.

If you want applications to show the navigation keys by default:

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Open the Display applet.
  3. Click the Effects tab.
  4. Under Visual Effects, deselect "Hide keyboard navigation indicators until I use the Alt key."
  5. Click OK.
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