The Essential Guide to Installing Windows 2000

The latest and greatest version of Windows is ready to roll. Our step-by-step instructions will get it up and running on your PC in a hurry.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

August 28, 2003

6 Min Read

Service Packs and Post-install Patches
At this writing, it isn't clear whether Microsoft will rely more on Windows Update to distribute Win2000 patches, as it has done for the most part with Windows 98, or whether it will issue regular collections of patches, or service packs, as it has done with Windows NT. This section covers both types of system updates.

A service pack is a collection of files that upgrade components in Windows. Service Packs are usually released to address security issues, fix bugs, provide new functions, and enhance performance -- or all of the above. There have been six NT Service Packs to date. And even before Win2000 was officially released, Microsoft had issued a minor Win2000 patch to address security problems with the Indexing Service. Anyone running Win2000 Server should learn about, download, and install that patch right after installing Windows 2000. For more on the update to, see the 2-03-2000 issue of Win2000 Insider.

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Windows Update keeps Win2000 up to date with the most recent patches and updates.

Service packs incorporate all the fixes from all previous service packs, making each a little bit larger than the last. You should always apply service packs as late as possible in your system setup. They should be re-applied after any major software upgrade (like installing Office or Explorer, or even Netscape), or after any changes to system components like device drivers or network configuration.

You have several options for getting Service Packs. It's a safe bet that you'll be able to order any service packs that become available directly from Microsoft on CD, or if you have a fast enough network connection, download them directly from Microsoft.

Service packs are available in two different editions: standard and high-encryption. The high-encryption service pack is only for distribution in the USA (although this may change at some point for new service packs), while the standard version can be downloaded worldwide. Pick an encryption level and stick with it. In other words, if you patch with high-encryption, make sure all subsequent patches are also high-encryption, when there's a choice between the two. Don't mix and match.

The best way to get interim patches and updates for Win2000 is through Windows Update. Originally developed to help keep Windows 98 up to snuff with new components, this Web-based service has been significantly expanded to support Win2000. A word to the wise: Just because there's a patch available in Windows Update doesn't mean you should install it. Other than major service packs, unless you have a specific reason to install a patch, hang back and let others jump in first to test the waters. An icon installed on the Start Menu takes you there, but this link works just as well: Note: You won't see the Windows 2000 Windows Update site unless you have Win2000 installed. Most Windows Update patches download and install automatically. Hopefully, though, you'll be able to download Win2000 service packs and install them separately. The actual process of installing a service pack isn't difficult. Once it's downloaded, close all running applications and double click the service pack's icon. It's a self-extracting archive that sets up in a couple of moments.

About Multiple Boot
A lot of us have much larger hard drives these days. That gives us the opportunity to take advantage of one of Win2000's lesser-known features -- its ability to automatically setup and manage a multiple Windows-version environment. A simple dual-boot scenario, where you have Keep Win9x or NT while adding a Win2000 installation is a great way to get started with Win2000. Setting this up is easy too, just follow the Graphical Setup steps and it will happen automatically.

Windows 2000 can go further down this road too. If you use Windows NT 4.0's dual-boot with Win9x features, Windows 2000's graphical setup can configure a three-way multiple-boot configuration. Again, it happens automatically. You can even start the process with Win9x running, if you want. We recommend you install each Windows version to its own physical or logical disk drive (partition).

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Removing the Win9x line from Win2000's boot menu is as easy as deleting a line of text.

Managing Multiple Boot
Once multiple-boot is configured, you manage it with a simple set of controls. Each time you start your PC, you make a menu selection that specifies the version of Windows you want to run. Since one of your Windows versions is the default setting, if after a certain amount of time you don't make a selection, the default Windows loads automatically. The two settings you get are, you guessed it, which Windows version is the default, and the number of seconds before the boot menu times out and loads your default. You'll find both settings on the same dialog (a little bit more deeply buried than they were in NT). To find them, right-click My Computer and choose Properties. Then click the Advanced tab, and the "Startup and Recovery" button. Make your selections from the Default Operating System drop-down, and the "Display the list of operating systems for X seconds" box, which shows 30 seconds by default. We usually choose 10 or 15 seconds to shorten boot times. Besides, you're either watching for the boot menu or you aren't.

If you wind up choosing any Windows other than Win2000 to be your default, changing the default Windows later on takes a bit more effort. You'll have to be vigilant while your system boots and then select the Windows 2000 option to boot to Win2000. Once there, you make the change on the "Startup and Recovery" dialog.

Removing Win9x Dual Boot
What if you decide to ditch your dual-boot option with an older version of Windows in favor of just having Win2000? Actually, this is easier than you might think. All you need do is edit the BOOT.INI file in the root folder of the bootable partition on your system (usually drive C:). You'll need to remove the Read-only attribute for the file. Do that by right-clicking it in an Explorer window and choosing Properties. When you're done editing the file, turn Read-only back on.

To remove Windows 98 from the boot menu, just remove this line from BOOT.INI:

{boot drive letter}:\="Microsoft Windows" Once that's accomplished, the system should boot directly to Win2000 without giving you any option to boot Windows 9x.

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