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    Windows2000 - Pre-Install Checklist

The first step in setting up Windows 2000 is to make sure you've got everything at hand you need to do it right. You  definitely don't want to install an operating system without the proper preparation, facts, files, and resources. Here's everything you need...

Which version of Windows 2000?
Windows 2000 comes in a few different versions. Windows 2000 Professional retails for around $300 (Win95/98 upgrades are $219 and NT upgrades are $149). The Pro version is designed for desktop Windows users, and equates to Windows NT 4.0 Workstation or Windows 98. Windows 2000 Server (with 10 Client Access Licenses) goes for about $900, and it corresponds to Windows NT Server. 

Windows 2000 Server is really only needed if you're running a bona-fide server, and have the expertise to deal with it. If you're using desktop-type applications, you'll do fine with Professional. Don't buy what you don't need. Actually, Windows 2000 Pro includes a stripped-down, 10-connection version of Internet Information Services (IIS) 5.0, which is useful for prototyping Web sites or learning ASP. If you don't want to install Windows 2000 Server to play with this stuff, you don't have to.

Consult Microsoft's excellent Windows 2000 resources
Before you actually get going with Setup, be sure to visit the Web pages Microsoft created to aid you in this endeavor.

Additional issues that needs to be considered installing.

Drivers for disk controllers, especially RAID arrays
This is probably the first and most important thing you need to have handy. Remember that you can't even get through the first stage of the installation without access to mass storage devices. Windows2000 has an up-to-the-minute driver set on its release CD, chances are you won't need to dig up a driver for the average desktop PC, but as time goes on and newer hardware gets released, the chances increase that your controller(s) won't find a compatible driver on the Windows 2000 CD.

If you do use a vendor-provided driver, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for creating a Windows2000 boot-time installation diskette for it, since you'll most likely need to supply the drivers in the initial stages of booting. These drivers are generally loaded during the search for disk controllers, outlined below, and are also usually loaded a second time when the file-copying process begins. The installation program will prompt you for a vendor-provided driver disk at the right times. Make sure you have it handy before you start the install.

RAID arrays get special treatment during setup, and you'll need to bone up on that in advance at your hardware maker's site.

Drivers and firmware for all other needed hardware
Although Windows2000 has a remarkably large library of hardware driver files on its installation CD, it's far from complete. Many manufacturers plan to release Windows 2000 drivers for their hardware later on. Do the research and find out if a vendor has provided third-party drivers for your hardware. If they have, save yourself the trouble of scrambling around later and get them before you start the installation. The same goes for hardware released after the Windows 2000 CD went to manufacturing in late December 1999.

This is especially important for system-critical drivers like network cards, disk controllers, and video adapters. That way you'll be able to add them then and there, without having to get a network connection running, which will be a real relief if you have trouble getting networking to function correctly.

Firmware is also important and frequently underrated. Many manufacturers offer a revised flash BIOS and firmware upgrade that fix bugs, possible Y2K problems, and add enhanced features. This includes motherboards: many motherboards need to get the most recent flash to work properly with Windows2000, especially for things like power management. Flash your machine before entering setup, and make sure it works with your existing Operating System, (if there is one), before starting. See Microsoft's Important Upgrade Issues page for more information.

Backup of all irreplaceable data
This should go without saying, but I will say it anyway. If there's anything on the target machine that isn't backed up...  back it up. You'll be very glad you did in the event the installation process heads south. Also, if you can afford the space, backing up your system partition couldn't hurt either. Never turn down a chance to make a backup!

Drivers for removable drives
Most removable drives, such as SCSI-based drives or ATAPI-driven removable disks like the Zip drive, will work fine in Windows 2000 for basic operations without a native driver. Formatting disks or doing other low-level operations, however, will often require a manufacturer written driver, so be sure to track those down and keep them handy for when you've finished the initial stages of the install. This also goes for magneto-optical drives and any devices that use UDF (Universal Data Format), such as DVD-RAM or DVD-RW drives.

Graphics cards
Windows 2000's built-in list of graphics card drivers is extremely impressive, but newer, more powerful cards are coming out all the time, and the drivers on the install CD may not be the fastest or most up-to-date.

The NVidia GeForce 256, for instance, isn't supported by the Windows 2000 release CD. If it's available as you read this, get the latest Microsoft-certified driver (sometimes listed as "WHQL certified") from your vendor. A Microsoft certified driver has been quality tested to ensure it performs to spec and will not bomb your system. Note that the most recent drivers from a given manufacturer may not be Microsoft-certified, and they may more likely be optimized for a slight performance edge than for reliability. We strongly recommend you go with a certified driver for stability, when one is available. (Note: In the case of the GeForce 256, the NT 4.0 driver works. That's a temporary workaround until a Windows 2000 driver is made available.)

Special input devices
Keyboards, mice, and thumbprint scanners (to name a few) count as input devices, and some will require the right software layer to work properly. Again, if this is extremely recent hardware, chances are you won't find the drivers on the Windows 2000 install CD; check with the maker. Even so, Windows 2000's Setup should automatically detect such devices without incident.

Multimedia controllers
This includes not only sound cards but peripherals like cameras and scanners. Windows 2000 supports the vast majority of Plug-and-Play multimedia devices released before the end of 1999, although there are a few exceptions. UMAX's older scanners, for instance, like the PowerLook II, are not yet supported with native Windows 2000 drivers.

Modems and network cards
Be warned that while some network cards will claim "compatibility" with a certain chipset, they really won't work at their best without a vendor driver. Intel's controllers (especially their OEM models for Compaq's computers) are notorious for behaving like this. The good news is, the Windows 2000 driver for Intel network cards is far better behaved than the NT 4.0 driver.

In some cases you'll find important device configuration utilities are available only from the manufacturer's Web site. They don't ship with the Windows 2000 driver. Never try to set up a network device without checking this first...  you may wind up wasting time and energy getting it running without knowing exactly what you need to do.

Printers and output devices
Vendor drivers for printers often have substantially more functionality than the drivers that ship with Windows 2000. This is especially the case with PostScript-enabled printers, where the vendor driver may support added features, like watermarking, while the Microsoft driver does not.


Back to Windows200 Install Guide



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