Windows NT and Windows 2000 Coexistence

Mixed NT 4.0 and Win2K Environments
For weeks, I’ve been testing a mixed environment running Windows 2000 (Win2K) and Windows NT 4.0. Curiously, I haven’t seen a lot of information about Win2K and NT 4.0 coexistence, so here are a few hints and tips I’ve gleaned from experimenting with a mix of Win2K build 2194 (prerelease) and build 2195 (final). Most of my NT 4.0 systems are running Service Pack 5 (SP5) with a smattering of hotfixes.

  • Multiple roots: Win2K boots correctly with at least four system roots on the same logical or physical drive, as long as you give each instance a unique system root-name. I started with NT 4.0 in C:\winnt and installed Windows 2000 Professional (Win2K Pro) in C:\win2kpro, Windows 2000 Advanced Server (Win2K AS) in D:\win2kas, my domain controller in D:\win2kdc, and my VPN server in E:\win2kserver. To keep from getting confused about which instance I’m booting, I edited the boot.ini file to reflect the drive and system-root name.
  • Selecting the default root: To select the instance you want to boot automatically, right-click My Computer, select Properties, click the Advanced tab, and click the Startup and Recovery button. The System Startup field at the top of the window displays all the entries from your boot.ini file, just as in NT 4.0. Win2K displays the boot.ini entries when the system boots, so you can override the default by selecting another root using the up and down arrow keys.
  • Loading a video driver: If Win2K doesn’t include a video driver for your adapter, right-click My computer, select Properties, click the Hardware tab, and click Device Manager. Find Display Adapters and expand it—if Win2K doesn’t recognize your video card, you’ll see a question mark by the default adapter. Highlight the adapter and right-click it; select Properties from the menu that appears, click the Drivers tab, and click the Update Driver button. When Win2K asks you to select your adapter, pick New and enter the path to your driver and .inf files.
  • DNS issues: I wanted to avoid problems with my NT 4.0 DNS servers when I installed Win2K AS, so I didn’t install DNS or WINS (even though the installation program selects these components by default). I created a new computer account in the NT 4.0 domain, booted my Win2K server as a standalone system, and had it join my NT 4.0 domain, which it did gracefully the first time. I configured the Win2K server to use my NT 4.0 DNS servers, but after it booted, I was unable to resolve names on any of my systems; after stopping and starting the NT 4.0 DNS, names resolved properly. I encountered this problem repeatedly in my mixed environment, so I now routinely stop and start the NT 4.0 DNS servers each time I boot a Win2K system, whether a standalone server, a member of my NT 4.0 domain, or a domain controller in a Win2K domain.

When I installed DNS on my Win2K domain controller, I was pleased with the wizard that helped me define the zones, including the reverse address zone, which you no longer have to create manually. DNS, like most of the Win2K services I’ve tested, has a restart option, which eliminates NT 4.0’s stop-and-start steps.

  • WINS: The Win2K systems always registered their NetBIOS names in the NT 4.0 WINS database. When I accidentally booted two Win2K systems with the same name, I removed the conflicting NT 4.0 WINS names, and stopped and restarted the NT 4.0 WINS service without problems.
  • Win2K and NT 4.0 domain trusts: You set up an explicit trust between Win2K and NT 4.0 domains the same way you set up trusts in NT 4.0 domains. I tested one-way trusts between Win2K and NT 4.0, between NT 4.0 and Win2K, and a two-way trust between the domains. In Win2K, start with Active Directory (AD) Domains and Trusts in Administrative Tools. Right-click the domain that you want to create a trust for and click the Trusts tab (at this point, the screen will look similar to the corresponding screen in NT 4.0). Win2K is much smarter than NT 4.0 about creating trusts—when my Win2K domain controller couldn’t find the NT 4.0 domain controller the first time (yes, as a result network configuration issues), I enjoyed saying yes when the domain controller asked whether it should try again to verify the trust.
  • RRAS: I have a dual-homed Win2K Server machine that provides WAN access for my network. As I switched from one test root to another, RRAS had no problems finding its way to the Internet through my WAN link. A simple default gateway change on the NT 4.0 LAN systems gave the systems access to the Internet. And I absolutely love the network icons that appear in the lower-right corner of your screen. You can watch data entering and leaving each network connection. When I was troubleshooting my WAN connection to my ISP, I could clearly see that the ISP wasn’t responding. At one point, I had an ISP connection, a PPTP connection, a Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) IP Security connection, and a LAN connection. I had one icon per connection, and I could tell exactly what was happening with each one. This functionality is a real confidence builder.
  • The Microsoft Management Console: I recommend that you download the quick tutorial called the Step-by-Step Guide to the Microsoft Management Console from to learn how to customize the Microsoft Management Console (MMC). Although the MMC’s numerous snap-ins can be overwhelming at first, you’ll find that you can save a lot of time if you organize your windows to coincide with the way you think. With some experimenting, you’ll come up with an organization that gives you access to system, service, and configuration information. I have one window for all the AD services, one window for the Certificate Authority (CA) and certificates, and another that presents all the information I need to drive the local system.

Preinstalling Windows 2000

Microsoft Support Online article Q250609 documents several techniques for installing and configuring Windows 2000 (Win2K) in unattended mode. Sections A through C describe ways to install Win2K from diskettes and CD-ROM; Section D documents the steps you need to follow to brand your systems with company-specific information such as manufacturer, model, and Web site address; and Section E provides a nice Sysprep walkthrough. If you’re just getting started, you’ll find that these instructions can speed up your configuration and testing. I haven’t tested these procedures myself, so if you do, let me know how well they work.

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