Windows 2000

Windows 2000 is a piece of shit.

I now have a new(er) ThinkPad at work, which will run Windows 2000. People have often said to me “Yes, Windows 95 was awful, and Windows 98 was bad, and Windows ME was flaky, and Windows XP isn’t very good… but Windows 2000 is great. Stable, fast, reliable.”

I took their word for it. Yes, I know, paint the word “SUCKER” on my forehead. Now I’ve had a chance to experience it first hand, I’ve discovered that Windows 2000 is every bit as shitty as Windows 98; it just costs a hell of a lot more.

Let’s start with the bootup. Yes, it boots much faster than Windows 98. Then it sits there saying “Preparing network connections…” for over a minute (I timed it), doing nothing at all. No disk activity, practically no network activity. How long does it take to do a DHCP lookup anyway? It turns out that it’s faster to boot Windows 98 on the old Pentium II machine than it is to boot 2000 on the Pentium III that’s supposedly twice the speed. Crap, really crap.

Plug’n’play. Oh yeah. I have two devices—a PS/2 serial trackball and a 3com ethernet PC card. It took three attepted installs of the drivers, and two system crashes, before Win2K finally gave in and recognized the trackball. Getting the system configured to use the ethernet card was easy in comparison—at least, getting TCP/IP to work was easy. Getting Microsoft file sharing to work… well, I still haven’t. I’m using rsync under Cygwin to copy files. It’s faster than SMB anyway. (56 bytes for a 5MB file—now that’s what I call a low protocol overhead.)

Of course, every single networking configuration change requires a one minute wait while it ‘prepares’ the network connection, followed by a reboot, followed by another one minute wait during bootup. That’s assuming the system doesn’t crash, which it did once. Or spontaneously reboot, which it has done twice while trying to browse local SMB volumes. I think I’ll just stick to rsync. Obviously Microsoft couldn’t write a reliable, fast file transfer protocol if their business depended on it. Fortunately for them, it apparently doesn’t.

Mention of reboots brings me to stability. No more blue screen of death in Windows 2000, they told me. That’s true—it goes straight to the black screen, then the BIOS menu comes up and the boot process begins again. To think I used to think the bomb dialog on the old classic Mac OS was unhelpful! It’s difficult to see how Windows 2000 could suck more in this area. More frequent random reboots? Or perhaps future releases of Windows will randomly scramble the filesystem? I guess the workaround is not to use Microsoft file sharing, as that’s what seems to trigger the reboots.

Reliability? Last bootup web browsing worked, but instant messaging didn’t. This bootup I powered the machine off for ten seconds first, and now they’re both working. Any error messages or explanation? Nope. Windows 2000 just sucks.

Thank goodness I have “Windows 2000 Professional”, and not the crappy amateurish version. I wonder if I can hack the splash screen to put in the missing quote marks?

Probably not. One thing that’s clear about Win2K is that the iron fist of Microsoft is in control. Don’t like Outlook Express? Well, you’d better get used to it, because you can’t uninstall it. Try add/remove programs, and there’s no entry. Try to delete the files, and Windows arrogantly tells you that you’re not allowed to, even as Administrator. Hack around that restriction and forcibly delete the files, and you encounter the final indignity: the next time the system demands that you reboot, it copies all the files back again from a hidden directory.

Yes, in the wonderful world of Windows 2000, Microsoft waste your disk space with two entire copies of every piece of bundled crappy bloatware that you don’t want, just so that they can be sure it’ll be there whether you like it or not. Presumably the idea is that I’ll say “Oh, well, since I have to have Outlook Express and Internet Explorer and NetMeeting, I guess I might as well use them.” As you can probably guess, this sends me into a seething rage. I have resolved that I will delete NetMeeting and Outlook Express, even if I have to use a sector editor to do so.

The worst part of this whole Windows 2000 experience is that it’s chips away yet another piece of my faith in humanity. As long as I could believe that Windows 2000 wasn’t entirely a shoddily-written piece of garbage that an undergraduate hacker would be ashamed of, it was possible for me to believe that 90% of the computer users out there were not in fact deluded morons. I thought that they chose to use an OS which, although ugly and expensive, at least worked and would run lots of software.

Now I know otherwise. Now I know that the people who evangelize to the reliability, scalability and ease of use of Windows 2000, really are a horde of hopelessly brainwashed Windozer zombies. Why else in the name of sanity would anyone fork out money for crap like this? If Microsoft announced the new Microsoft Spiked Dildo at a price of $500 a year, I bet the ’dozers would be out there at midnight on launch day, bent over and greased up…

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