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Windows Millennium Edition ("Windows Me") FAQ

Microsoft's Windows Millennium Edition ("Windows Me") was released on September 14, 2000! If you have a question that isn't answered here, send it along and I'll do my best to answer it.

UPDATE: This FAQ is now retired.

Q: What is Windows Millennium Edition ("Windows Me")?
A: Windows Millennium Edition ("Windows Me") is the next version of Consumer Windows, following Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows 98 Second Edition (SE). It is based on the Windows 98 kernel, not the Windows NT/2000 kernel. Don't believe rumors that Windows 2000 and 98 are being "merged" to create Windows Me; this isn't true.  A future version of Consumer Windows, code-named "Whistler," will be based on Windows 2000, but this product isn't expected until 2001 at the earliest.

Think of Windows Me as "Windows 98 Third Edition." It's a simple minor release of the old Windows 9x line with no major new features. The user interface makes it look like Windows 2000, but it's all 98 under the covers.

"Millennium is going to be a very significant release for home users," says Microsoft's Shawn Sanford. "We're really working toward simplifying the computing experience for home users."

Q: What's with the name? Why didn't they just call it Windows 2000 Consumer Edition or whatever? 

A: There are many reasons for the name of this product, which probably would have been called Windows 2000 had Microsoft not already taken this name for the next version of Windows NT. Basically, in late 1998, it seemed that the Windows 9x line would come to an end with Windows 98 SE. Microsoft was planning a future consumer Windows release, dubbed "Neptune," that would be based on Windows 2000 and would hopefully ship sometime in the year 2000. So, in late 1998, the company announced that Windows NT 5.0 was being renamed as Windows 2000 in a bid to continue the popular Windows name. However, in early 1999, delays in Neptune and an internal reorganization caused Microsoft to rethink its cancellation of the Windows 98 product line and the company announced in mid-1999 that it would be releasing yet another version of Windows 98. The project was codenamed "Millennium."

Because Windows 2000 was geared solely toward business users and Neptune was so far behind schedule (so far behind, in fact, that the project was cancelled in January 2000), Millennium would be designed solely for consumers. That means that, unlike Windows 98, none of the features in Millennium would be applicable to businesses at all. This narrowing of the product's target market allowed Microsoft to focus on only those technologies that would be applicable to home users, but the name that this product would eventually use was still up in the air. In December 1999, Microsoft began shopping the phrase "Windows Me" around (that's "Me" as in "Millennium Edition" and "Me" as in "I") and the name stuck.  In January 2000, the company decided on Windows Millennium Edition ("Windows Me") as the final product name for this last version of Windows 98. And the phrase "Windows Me" will be used in advertising for the new product.

"The name Windows Millennium Edition, or Windows Me, will help Microsoft to clearly identify this next iteration of the OS as the Windows version designed specifically with the home user in mind," says Microsoft Windows Group Product Manager Shawn Sanford.

Q: So how does Windows Me differ from Windows 98?
A: Windows Me differs very little from Windows 98, since it is simply the latest release in the 9x family. It features a new TCP/IP stack, a System Restore feature, silent installation of USB keyboards, mice, and hubs, a Movie Maker application for recording, editing, publishing, and organizing audio and video content, the removal of Real mode DOS, and a number of other small improvements.
Windows Me looks similar to Windows 2000 Professional on the surface, but its virtually identical to Windows 98 otherwise. Microsoft says that Windows Me focuses on the following technologies:

  • Digital Media and Entertainment: The Consumer Windows Division will focus on enabling users to take advantage of all this new content, making it easy to access, play/view and store as well as providing an enhanced PC gaming experience. Movie Maker fills this role, along with a games manager.

  • Online Experience: Consumer Windows will provide consumers with a premier home online experience. Consumers will be able to easily connect to the Web, locate desired content and determine which content is right for their family. To facilitate this goal, Microsoft is integrating the latest version of Internet Explorer, IE 5.5, into Windows Me.

  • Home Networking: Networking at home is becoming a reality for more people. Windows Me will simplify the process of connecting multiple computers in the home, enabling users to share information and an Internet connection. It features a new Home Networking Wizard that puts a pretty face on this feature.

  • "It Just Works": The Consumer Windows Division is committed to providing consumers with a solution that 'just works,' from the moment a user starts their PC and throughout their daily computing experience. This promise will be delivered upon by the advancement of the PC's self-healing functionality, in addition to providing a simpler set-up and a great out-of-the-box experience for new computer users. System Restore is the primary in-box feature that satisfies this goal.

"The Consumer Windows Division is focused on truly making computing easy for consumers," says David Cole, vice president of the Consumer Windows Division at Microsoft. "We are ... on the path toward delivering a version of Windows specifically designed to enable consumers to take full advantage of their PCs in the 21st century."

Q: When was Windows Me released?

A: Microsoft shipped Windows Me to manufacturing on June 19, 2000. It became available in retail stores on September 14, 2000.

Q: What is the build number of the final release?
A: 4.90.3000. There is some confusion about "differences" between 4.90.3000 and 4.90.3000.2: They're the same. You never see the .2 anywhere in the UI.

Q: I've heard of a Microsoft Research project called "Millennium." Is this the same thing?
A: No. Microsoft Research is currently working on a prototype operating system called, unfortunately, Millennium, which was absolutely nothing to do with Windows Millennium Edition ("Windows Me"). The Microsoft Research project is designed for a future of ubiquitous networking with machines that interact with their users in ways that are just not possible today.

Q:  I heard that Windows Me would not use DOS as its base and would, in fact, be a full 32-bit operating system like Windows NT. Is this true?
No. Windows Millennium Edition, like Windows 95 and Windows 98 before it, is based on DOS and is therefore a 16/32-bit operating system. Microsoft is doing what it can to hide the MS-DOS prompt in Windows Me in an effort to simplify the OS, but DOS is as fully entrenched in Windows Me as it was in earlier versions of Windows 9x.

What's missing in Windows Me is support for 16-bit Real Mode DOS, which is rarely, if ever, used anymore anyway.

Q: So do DOS games like DOOM and Duke Nukem 3D still run in Millennium?
A: Yes, absolutely. Every DOS game should run in Windows Me.

Q: I heard that Windows Me is "code sharing" with Windows 2000. Does this mean that Windows Me is part of the Windows 2000 family of products?
A: First of all, Windows Me is not "code-sharing" with Windows 2000, other than superficial user interface enhancements. The core of Windows Me is based on Windows 98, not Windows 2000. Windows Me nothing to do with Windows 2000 and is not part of the Windows 2000 family of products. Windows Millennium Edition is, rather, a way to extend the Windows 9x line on more year so that Microsoft can increase its revenue stream by releasing yet another version of Windows while it waits for Whistler (a future Consumer Windows based on Windows 2000) to come together.

Q: What about legacy I/O devices, such as ISA cards and the like?
A: Windows Millennium Edition will still support legacy I/O devices, though you'll have to jump through some hoops to get them installed because Microsoft has implemented a new driver signing scheme to ensure the integrity of all drivers installed on the system. Microsoft did this for a good reason--improperly written drivers are the single biggest cause of instability in Windows--but they will provide a way for users to install any drivers they'd like in a continuing bid to provide the highest level of compatibility possible.

Q: What's the upgrade path for Windows Me?
A: You can upgrade Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows 98 Second Edition to Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me). You can not upgrade any version of Windows NT or Windows 2000 to Windows Me. Not that you'd want to anyway.

Microsoft has released three versions of Windows Me: Step-Up (requires a Windows 98 install or CD-ROM to install), Upgrade, and Full.

Q: Does Windows Me support multiple microprocessors (CPUs)?
A: No, because Windows Me is simply the next version of Windows 98, it is based on the Windows 9x kernel, which does not support multiple processors. To use two or more processors in the same machine, you'd need to run Windows 2000.

Q: Will there be a version of Plus! for Windows Me? 

A: No.  Though Microsoft released Plus Packs for both Windows 95 and Windows 98, Windows Millennium Edition is only a point upgrade to Windows 98, as is Windows 98 SE. So there's no need for a new Plus Pack. However, there is some good news: Virtually every single feature of Plus! 98 is included Windows Me already. So there's really no need to buy Plus! 98 if you're getting the new Windows.

Confusingly, Microsoft released a product called "Windows Game Plus Pack" at the same time as Windows Me. This is NOT a Plus! Pack for Windows Me; it will run on any version of Windows 9x or 2000.

Q: Will there be a new Resource Kit for Windows Me?

A: No.

Q: How can I get Windows Me?

A: Now that Windows Me has been released, you'll have to get it at retail or with a new machine purchase. Microsoft never offered any beta version of Windows Me to the public.

Q: What are the minimum hardware requirements for Windows Me?A: Microsoft says that a Pentium 150 or better with at least 32 MB of RAM is the minimum system required to run Millennium. However, I recommend at least a 300 MHz Pentium II processor with at least 64 MB of RAM.

Q: Were you on the Windows Me beta? How do you know all of this stuff?
No, I'm not on the Windows Me beta, though I was, briefly, right when it began. As a member of the press, I'm not eligible to participate in Microsoft technical beta programs, but because I've not signed an NDA for these products, I can talk about them freely. I get my information directly from Microsoft product managers and Waggener Edstrom, Microsoft's PR firm. Microsoft supplies me with all of the major builds and beta guides so that I can review and publicize these products before they are released. Therefore, I'm privy to information that is unavailable to beta testers (such as internal release date information) and other end-users.

However, not all of the information I get comes to me from authorized channels: I've installed and evaluated every single build of Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me) since the first developer's preview and my constant and ongoing experience with this product makes this Web site the most valuable Windows Me resource anywhere. Think about it: Do you want to know what Microsoft wants you to know, or do you want to know the truth? With a knowledge of the way this product has developed over time, I can offer readers an unparalleled understanding of why things are the way they are. Microsoft doesn't want you to know this and other sites simply don't have the historical perspective.

Q: Can I upgrade Windows Me to Windows 2000?
No. But you can upgrade Windows Me to the next version of Windows 2000, Windows.NET 1.0 (code-named "Whistler"), when it's released in late 2001.

Q: Can I upgrade to Windows Me from Windows 3.x? How about NT or Windows 2000?
No. You can upgrade Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows 98 SE to Windows Me. MS-DOS, Windows 1.x-3.x, or any version of Windows NT/2000 will not work.

Q: I heard that Windows Me doesn't ship with the final versions of Internet Explorer 5.5 or Windows Media Player 7. Is this true?
Yes. Windows Me ships with near-final versions of both of these products, but you can easily update Windows Me to the final versions of both WMP7 and IE 5.5 via the Windows Update Web site.

Q: When I edit CONFIG.SYS, the changes get blown away and the OS doesn't seem to process any of my commands. I need to add a line such as FILES=120 in CONFIG.SYS. How can I do this?
Supposedly, you can't. Windows Me does away with Real Mode DOS and therefore doesn't process CONFIG.SYS or AUTOEXEC.BAT at startup. Instead, these files are maintained internally by Windows Me for backwards compatibility with applications that expect to find them there. But any changes you make to either file will be overwritten each time the system boots.

However, an undocumented feature in Windows Me was recently revealed that lets you add the FILES=xxx functionality. What you need to do is add the line PerVMFiles=60 to the [386Enh] section of system.ini.

Q: Is there be a Windows Me Device Driver Kit (DDK)?
Yes. Microsoft's new Windows DDK includes support for Windows Me. Check it out on the DDK Web site.

Q: Can I dual boot Windows Me with Windows 95/98?
No. Windows Me is designed to replace Windows 95 and 98. You can, however dual boot Windows Me with Windows 2000, or use a third party utility, such as System Commander or BootIt Direct, if you wish to dual boot Windows Me with Win9x.

Q: Can Windows Me boot to a DOS prompt?
No. Windows Me doesn't include Real Mode DOS, so it's impossible to boot the system into DOS mode or reboot the system into DOS mode. You can, however, use a Windows Me boot disk to boot into a command prompt.

Q: The Personalized Start Menu is driving me insane. How can I turn it off?
Right-click the taskbar and choose Properties. Then uncheck the option called "Use Personalized Menus." Incidentally, the Favorites Menu in IE has an even more diabolical "Personalized" feature. To turn that off, open IE and choose Tools then Internet Options. On the Advanced tab, uncheck the option called "Enable Personalized Favorites Menu".

Q: How come Windows Me doesn't support the Hibernate power management feature?
Actually, Windows Me does support Hibernate, which allows you to save the contents of RAM to the hard drive and then recover it all when the system comes out of hibernation: This allows you to leave programs running and then have them return to normal when the system comes back up. But Hibernation in Windows Me is very restrictive and it won't work on all systems. First, you need an ACPI-compliant BIOS, as you do in Windows 2000. But then the complications set it: If any of the drivers on your system are not hibernation compatible, the feature will not work, or even appear in the UI. At this point in time, most installs of Windows Me do not include hibernation.

PC makers will include the necessary drivers for hibernation in their Windows Me systems.

If you had hibernation working and it suddenly disappeared, it's probably because of a new driver installation: Many hardware drivers aren't compatible with hibernation. Check nohiber.txt in c:\windows for details.

Q: I'm having weird problems with my IntelliMouse in Windows Me and the current version of IntelliType (the software for the IntelliMouse series) doesn't support Windows Me. What gives?
Microsoft has released new IntelliType software that is compatible with Windows Me.

Q: I have [hardware device name]. How come it doesn't work with Windows Me? It worked fine in Windows 98!
Windows Me has its own Hardware Compatibility List (HCL), which you should definitely check out before you install the product. There are two versions of the HCL, a simple text file and a Web-based version that's searchable. Pick your poison.

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