Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Remembering Windows 2000 (howtogeek.com)
272 points by dsr12 on June 15, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 236 comments

Windows 2000 also represents the zenith of UI design for Microsoft software. I'm still rather baffled about how people look back fondly on XP, it looked like a toy for toddlers, and installing the Zune theme was the first thing I did after a fresh install to try and tone it down.

The in-your-face over decoration of UI's thankfully hasn't persisted, but instead we're seeing a similar kind of decadence among our supposedly minimal and flat interfaces. The misuse of space and screen real-estate has gotten pretty bad as of late, and I'm all for an appropriate amount of whitespace (I keep railing against certain linux DE's for not getting this right) but modern software seems to be devoid of any kind of efficiency with layout or a sensible information density.


Windows 2000 was also one of the most consistently designed versions of Windows. XP also introduced tons of design language chaos as they only migrated some of the UI over to the new controls and left big chunks of the OS to languish. I think Control Panel had widget rot well into Windows 10 (Maybe still has this issue?).

I only grudgingly moved to XP and shortly after switched to Desktop Linux full time.

> I'm still rather baffled about how people look back fondly on XP

XP was the first consumer version of adult (non-w95 based) Windows. Relatively few people used Windows NT or Windows 2000. If you are one of the many people who's Windows use either started with XP or you went from W95 to XP, then XP was clearly the best Windows you've ever seen.

XP introduced a "new" control panel arrangement by default, but you could easily revert to a simple folder view. Windows 10 is a mess today because of the overlap between the classic Control Panel and the new settings app, but there was nothing like this back then.

> XP introduced a "new" control panel arrangement by default, but you could easily revert to a simple folder view.

It's been 15+ years? since I regularly used Windows so maybe I'm mis-remembering this, but I definitely remember there being quite a few WTF moments working with the Windows XP Control Panel. Lots of changes for no apparent reason, and many weird/ jarring things. Its definitely not a Windows 10 thing because I've spent roughly 15 minutes using Windows 10.

The proper thing to do in the Windows XP control panel is to switch it to Classic View. No more trying to figure out what category something is in and being wrong half the time, just the same options as you had in Windows 98, plus a few new ones.

Even in Classic View, there are admittedly some items that have user interface styles that date back to Windows 3.1 (one example being part of the Fonts area), so there are some oddities. But switching to Classic View takes care of a lot of them.

Tho that only helps with certain things, depending on localization.

For example, the German version of Windows XP renamed the entry for "Software" to "Programme und Funktionen"/"Programs and functions".

It's something that even over a decade later keeps catching me off-guard because for the longest time I was so used to look for "S like software".

And Windows 10 did it again with the whole "App" thing where I'm still somewhat confused if that's the new name for software, or if I'm installing some kind of integrated gadget from the Windows store or what the actual difference between these two is supposed to be.

> the whole "App" thing


I believe what you suggest is exactly what I did when I used XP, but at this point, the only proper thing is to not use XP unless you are doing some kind of air-gapped retro setup.

The Control Panel vs Settings thing is definitely annoying, and confusingly certain things exist in both; one of which is date and time

I had a machine that refused to sync NTP until I went into Control Panel, even though everything looked fine in the new Settings

One of the first things I do is to pin the control panel and a couple of its icons to start so I can avoid the settings way of getting there.

appwiz.cpl run this from RUN or command prompt

I didn't know about that. As I have it set up though, I can hit the windows key and type 'fea' (from Programs and Features) and then enter.

you couldn't entirely revert the control panel to "classic". Win2K pioneered moving a bunch of stuff out of the control panel entirely and into Computer Management (which you could get to by right clicking on the computer icon)

As someone once remarked "On XP everything looks as though it should go MOO! when you click on it."

Ha, that’s so true.

After growing up with Amiga and then MacOS, I only really encountered Windows XP when I started my first proper job.

Couldn’t believe that that was the default OS for professionals and businesses. With all the chunky graphics and bright colours it looked so childish - like it was designed for preschoolers, not 98% of the world’s computing.

There was even a puppy animation when doing a search.

And you could switch the puppy animation to a cat, or a wizard, or probably several other options!

You could easily switch it to look like earlier versions of Windows, however. I miss that ability in 8.1 and 10; up through Window 7, I could make my desktop look like Windows 95 if I wanted to, and sometimes I did. Nothing like having a colleague walk up to you in 2017 and asking you, "is that Windows 2000?"

Thank MS Bob for that...

That ia surprisingly succinct. I'll be copping this one for the future.

Out of the box, sure. But it wasn't difficult to configure it to look almost exactly like Win2K.

We have three layers of it now.

Control Panel: win 3.0 lineage

Computer Management/device manager: WinNT lineage

Settings: Win8 lineage

It's all a big mess. You want to configure your audio settings or printer? You'll find options in all three areas, all with slightly different UI controls.

What option do they have though? If they throw all the old out and replace it people freak out.

If anything slowly rendering the older stuff obsolete and moving settings into the new unified settings system makes the most sense to move forward without people freaking out.

Your only options, for windows users is to do things very slowly or just don't move forward or innovate at all and as of today there is very little reason to dig into the older versions apart from very esoteric settings.

Windows 10 was released in 2015. Windows 8 was released in 2012. From a user POV the settings menus shouldn't be so complex after that long.

There are a few examples of things that are now much harder than they need to be because the settings have been spread over several different places, and you have to know the correct route to them or you get an incomplete settings menu.

Some Dell laptops will use a generic Windows driver for a mouse device, instead of installing the correct drivers for the trackpoint / Pointstick and touchpad. This is a suboptimal experience, and installing the correct drivers is harder than it needs to be.

But once you've installed the correct drivers where do you find the settings?

Start > Settings > Touchpad will give some settings, but not for the pointstick.

Device manager doesn't give you the settings.

Search > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Dell Touchpad > Launch Mouse Control Panel will give you a window that then allows you to open the Dell settings.

The easier way is to open the hidden icons in the notification area, right click Dell Touchpad, and open the settings from there.

Exactly. One of my annoyances with Microsoft's post-Windows 2000 design philosophy is its penchant for consuming large amounts of vertical space. This started with the large title bars used in the Windows XP Luna theme. I wasn't impressed with this "Fischer-Price" theme and always switched to the Windows Classic theme, which I continued to do even during the Windows 7 days. Next, Microsoft introduced the ribbon in Office 2007. I've since gotten used to the ribbon (which has spread to Mac versions of Office, albeit with traditional menus still existing), but I still prefer toolbars and traditional menus. Finally, Windows 10's interface is just gaudy to me, with its oversized title bars and its liberal use of whitespace. It's acceptable on a high-resolution display, but on a 1366x768 display (common on corporate laptops) Windows 10 just looks downright ugly to me.

I find it interesting that during the past 15 years the industry has switched away from 4:3 displays to 16:9 displays (which seem to provide more horizontal space at the expense of vertical space), yet Microsoft's designs seem to consume more vertical space as opposed to horizontal space. Instead of ribbons, I prefer the horizontal inspectors that are found in macOS applications.

On Hacker News I'm seeing more interest lately in the desktop UIs from the 1990s and 2000s. For example, the latest beta release of Haiku, an operating system inspired by BeOS, garnered a lot of attention. What I like about Windows 2000, macOS (both the classic Mac OS and Mac OS X), BeOS, GNOME 2, and other classic desktops is their utilitarian focus on design, where form and function are intertwined. UI design isn't about "the bling"; it's about providing a good experience to the user. Mac OS X's Aqua interface did a good job providing a compelling interface to users that was also beautiful. Unfortunately, some people only saw the "bling" and not the functionality behind the Aqua theming, and thus we've been suffering from fashion-driven UIs for nearly 20 years, a trend that has been made worse by the advent of mobile computing. Hopefully the pendulum will swing back to how things were in the 1990s; we can learn a lot from the human interface guidelines Microsoft and Apple published in that era.

I agree on the vertical space thing. I would add that lack of contrast between controls is very annoying. That 'flat' look is a pain. Can I or can I not click on this? The one that is a real pain is the disappearing scroll bar. It is there. The space for it is used. But just gone until you hover over it. Then it is clunky to use in relation to all of the other windows controls. The rules for making a GUI were dead simple for MS in the 90s. I had them printed out on 1 sheet of paper and most of that was a couple of pictures.


I still have to think when I look at the control center on my phone, uh.. moon == Do not disturb, and is it on or not?? The faux-3d let you know. I also wish there was text under the controls.

I've resorted to turning on some of the contrast accessibility stuff to make it a little more usable.

And don't even get me started on the hamburger menu.

>lack of contrast between controls is very annoying. That 'flat' look is a pain. Can I or can I not click on this?

Vs code. How many seconds does it take to figure out the active code tab?

I must use scrolling windows differently than you, because I haven't clicked and dragged a scroll bar probably for years. The only thing I need a scroll indicator for is to see how far I am down the page, which I only do when I'm actively scrolling. MacOS disappearing scrollbars (which do not waste space when inactive, but pop in over content when you scroll) are my ideal implementation.

I want to know current position and I still sometimes grab scrollbar and drag because it sometimes comfortable than scrolling a wheel.

My point is that it is terribly inconsistent. There are basically 4 ways now. You can see the scroll bar. The scroll bar is borderline invisible color wise to the background. Fade in out, some are over the text (which is annoying if you happen to be reading that bit and activate it). Fade in out space kept but the control is invisible. The fade in out has a second issue. Can I scroll? It suffers from the 'bellow the fold' problem of usability. As in there was more stuff on the page but I missed it. All because a paragraph break worked out just right.

I often like to know how long a page is when I'm not scrolling too.

Screen space consumption was on the rise since Windows 1.0 days, there was a story recently [1]. Horizontal tiling mode become unusable [2] vs [3].

I think it traces transition from power users to casual. It makes sense, but there was no alternative. Screen become cluttered so much that most applications run on full screen only. And web become spoiled too - sticky headers everywhere (uBlock fixes this), wide content (media queries kicks in much narrower windows, Stylus to the rescue).

Explorer (shell) decorations is much to blame. Do we actually need task bar, title bar, menu bar, tool bar, status bar, scroll bar? I do not think so - plenty of space and distraction free [4]. There are a lot of tiling managers on Linux, but Windows has its share too. Like dwm port [5] (never tried on Windows) though I prefer wmii and xmonad with wmii layout.

[1] Windows Explorer Through the Years https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23487698

[2] Windows 1.0 tiling https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/df/Microsof...

[3] Windows 10 tiling https://i2.wp.com/www.nextofwindows.com/wp-content/uploads/2...

[4] No decorations http://sergeykish.com/side-by-side-no-decorations.png

[5] DWM on Windows https://www.brain-dump.org/projects/dwm-win32/

Linux has been much worse for margins in UIs, FWIW.

Also curious about this, I use mostly Openbox and GTK based apps and don’t have an issue

Really? It looks just fine to me. People like to complain about the GTK3 header bars, but those encompass everything that you'd previously find in toolbars and menubars, at least for simple utils. And they enable full touch readiness, as do the slightly bigger buttons and widgets.

How many people actually use desktop Linux on touch devices?

Have a look at KDE! One of the reasons I switched.

Yes, they forgot to mention the fantastic, intuitive, and functional GUI rivaled by Mac OS 9, Nextstep, OS/2, BeOS etc. This era was the pinnacle.

While we've been thrown a few bones like start menu search, most of the gratuitous changes have been for the worse. Sleeker but harder to use for professionals. Gnome 2 was approaching Win2k but then made a hard turn into tablet/novice land. XFCE is in the neighborhood but never got to the level of Win2k.

I didn't care for skinz in the 90's and instead of going away, every app now is a unpredictable skinned mess.

MacOS 7.1 was the pinnacle, imo. MacOS 9 had lots of the space-wasting pretty chrome we're decrying here in WinXP.

Respectfully disagree. The Platinum appearance (which debuted in Mac OS 8, not 9) used roughly the same UI metrics which were typical for System 7 applications. It had to, as it was applied to all applications, not just ones which opted in!

Beyond that... the system appearance used prior to Platinum was, simply put, crude. It was an outgrowth of a UI design which had originally been constructed for black-and-white systems with limited CPU power, and it wasn't especially consistent. It lacked standard UI elements for many controls which had become common, like dropdown menus, utility windows, disclosure triangles, or tristate checkboxes, forcing many applications to implement their own inconsistent versions of these items. Even for the UI elements it implemented, like buttons and checkboxes, its appearance was simplistic in the extreme -- buttons were black outlined round-rects; checkboxes were black outlined squares, etc. There was very little use of color or shading outside of window chrome -- most of the UI was black and white, just as it had been from the start.

I loved old-school Macs but come one, you couldn't even resize a window by dragging an edge. I think we've moved on from that.

Actually, I prefer only being able to drag from the corner, as OS X did it through Snow Leopard / 10.6 (not sure about Classic?). Too often on modern OS’s I find myself resizing windows by accident, or not resizing them when I mean to because the initiation area is too small.

The Platinum UI ended up in a weird middle ground -- windows had thick borders which were clickable, but dragging them would move the window, not resize it!

Just like Fvwm under Unix.

> Gnome 2 was approaching Win2k but then made a hard turn into tablet/novice land.

Hard disagree, Gnome 3 is like i3 except without the legacy cruft.

> I'm still rather baffled about how people look back fondly on XP, it looked like a toy for toddlers

Agreed, yet somehow its Start menu is still better than what you get on Windows 10 these days: https://i.stack.imgur.com/rwZqf.jpg

> ...installing the Zune theme was the first thing I did after a fresh install to try and tone it down.

Everyone knows the best XP theme was Royale Noir! https://www.istartedsomething.com/20061029/royale-noir/

That's beating a dead horse. Anything is better than the Windows 10 start menu, with the only exception of the Windows 8 (and a Server version, don't remember what) (lack of) one...

Or, maybe the Win8 one was better. It's a bit hard to be sure about this, but the first half of the comment stands.

That would be Server 2012. Took me months to figure out how to restart it via the GUI.

I actually came to like the 8.1 Start screen, though it took awhile. Basically my most-used programs are pinned to the start screen, so I can tap Windows, and use the mouse to select one, with a large margin for error. Or I can search based on the name of the program, and unlike Windows 10, it's only to match local items, and not include any web results.

My favorite was always HmmXP's Mono Blue. There aren't many screenshots of it but it looks just like this subtheme: https://www.deviantart.com/fugacious/art/HmmXPnoC-10312376

> I'm still rather baffled about how people look back fondly on XP, it looked like a toy for toddlers

I think a big part of this is a combination of two factors: First, most non-tech people never ran Win2k. They went straight from 98/ME to XP. Second, no one remembers WinXP before SP2. (You know, when it was a complete trainwreck.)

FWIW, when I was doing software development in the latter days of XP, I found that I actually liked the style of the UI widgets from the default theme. Its just the titlebar and taskbar styles that I couldn't stand. However, some size tweaks made them more tolerable.

Windows XP even before SP2 was a _delight_ compared to the true train wreck that shipped on consumer PCs before it: Windows "Mistake Edition" Me.

Windows Me was a strange beast. On some (most?) PCs it was an absolute disaster up to corrupting hard disks, on others it was a solid step up from win98. But you could never say beforehand how it was going to behave, even on 2 identical PCs. I never understood what triggered its abysmall behaviour.

Oh well, who cares now, it lies in its well deserved grave, I guess.

I have similar recollection of ME, on my personal 333MHz Celeron with 128mb of RAM laptop it ran fantastically, never had issues and was stable and while 2000/XP were also stable, ME was fast compared to 2000/XP on the same hardware.

Other people I know couldn't get past a VxD error on the first install, others couldn't get faster K6 or PIII's to be stable with it.

It was a love it or hate it thing--my opinion of Vista and 8.0 are similar.

It was also preferred (by most people, at least) to Windows Vista, the product that usually shipped on PCs after it.

It was an almost undeniable local maximum in Windows releases from the consumer side, which does make some of the fond memories make sense.

What's weird is that I had a laptop that Vista actually ran well on, and I didn't have any real problems. Of course it was a higher-end laptop (similar specs and price to what Apple sold at the time).

It often feels like the biggest difference between Vista and 7 was actually time. As such, the cheap computers 7 shipped on were much better than the cheap underpowered computers Vista shipped on (despite both OSes likely having similar realistic requirements).

Win7 kinda was the SP2 of Vista more than a major version.

XP64, if you had hardware that had drivers, was amazing. Drop it into classic mode and you essentially had a workstation (Ala Windows) version of Server 2003.

Unpopular opinion: I liked XP SP1. Perhaps it's because I used it mostly offline, so its security issues were far less visible than if I had used it on a T1 line. But from a stability standpoint, XP SP1 was a huge step up from 98.

Windows 2000 always reminded me of brutalist architecture. It was efficient, functional, and worked well, but it wasn't pretty at all.

This is probably a very unpopular opinion but I rather liked Windows Vista's design. It was still very compact compared with later designs, and it had a certain charm from its prevalent use of translucency. I disliked XP for the same reason you cited, and upgraded to Vista almost as soon as it came out, despite early Vista's instability.

But, and I say that as a brutalist hater, W2K is then one of those more humane brutalist designs. Some detailing, rounded instead of sharp edges, a concrete that is ever so slightly warmed toned than basic concrete, nooks and crannies to break up long flat surfaces.

I find flatUI far more brutalist in the way it disorients by removing and humane clues as to its structure and use.

You could always revert XP to classic mode. That's what I do for Win7 VMs to cut down on resource requirements.

Once Vista became stable it was a really nice OS. I installed it for a parent at some point because that's what we had a license for, and was really surprised how fast and clean it was compared to Windows 8.

Vista was too bubbly and glossy, much like early OS X.

Win7 had a fairly decent balance of shiny chrome and usability by reducing both of those, while still retaining enough visual cues to e.g. clearly highlight buttons.

I like the brutalist comparison. And it's why I ran 2000 server as a desktop for a long time. I wanted efficient, functional and worked well...pretty was not gonna pay the bills.

You could also revert to the classic widget theme, even in Windows Vista and 7. And people absolutely did that - the classic theme was a lot leaner on system resources and visually clearer in many ways.

It's sad that they got rid of it in windows 8 and later.

>the classic theme was a lot leaner on system resources

maybe, but it probably also made things run slower because it forces everything to be done in software rather than hardware.


>Starting in Windows Vista, a lot of visual effects were offloaded to the graphics card. Consequently, the impact on system performance for those visual effects is negligible, and sometimes turning off the effect actually makes your system run slower because you disabled hardware acceleration, forcing operations to be performed in software.

What's really sad is the classic widgets are still there -- you can see them occasionally in Win10 when the compositor glitches out.

Weirder, MDI windows use Win7's classic\b\b\b\b\b\b aero basic styling, so apparently some of the Win7 styling is also still available.

Another major annoyance: the resize area for a window is seemingly 1 pixel wide. You used to be able to specify a width and all windows would be bordered with it. I get that Win10 looks sleeker but did they really have to take that control away

What really bothered me was that back in XP days it seemed that .theme files seemed really interchangeable save for MS signing. I remember downloading numerous theme files, placing them in the right spot, and installing a cracked themes dll, and they'd just work.

> What's really sad is the classic widgets are still there -- you can see them occasionally in Win10 when the compositor glitches out.

I wouldn't call them "classic". They're closer to the "aero basic" theme from vista/7 than the "classic" theme that was available from windows xp to windows 7.

You're right. And it was definitely aero basic.

>the resize area for a window is seemingly 1 pixel wide. You used to be able to specify a width and all windows would be bordered with it. I get that Win10 looks sleeker but did they really have to take that control away

It's really a bit of a mistake, maybe a limitation(?) of the Windows UI system.

I mean the border on OS X is 1px too but the resize area is about 8 pixels.

Would love it if MS could do another spin on the deep details and just make it all work nice.

>> the resize area for a window is seemingly 1 pixel wide. >> You used to be able to specify a width and all windows >> would be bordered with it. I get that Win10 looks sleeker >> but did they really have to take that control away

> It's really a bit of a mistake, maybe a limitation(?) > of the Windows UI system. > > I mean the border on OS X is 1px too > but the resize area is about 8 pixels.

Is it? My impression is that Windows behaves the same there, i.e. the border is drawn 1 px wide, but the full width of it is still available for grabbing, only it's being drawn invisible. If I hover my mouse over a window border, the cursor certainly switches into resize mode for more than just 1 pixel's worth of distance.

You're correct just double checked and realized the problem I've been noticing is specifically the top edge of the top right corner has some weird dead zone areas where it is 1px but most of the surrounding areas and all other edges are about 5.

There's no real way to translate the classic theme "as designed" to hi-DPI systems, AFAIK; let alone to allow it to freely morph between desktop and tablet interaction paradigms when you dock/undock a two-in-one.

You could in theory design a modern UI that resembles the classic UI, but it wouldn't really be "the classic UI". A large part of what makes the classic UI have the particular look it does is that it has custom constraint-layout logic for each control, the outputs of which are fed as parameters into the arbitrary hand-written GDI draw-call logic used to draw each control.

Some of the more interesting controls have Turing-hard constraint logic, which just can't be replicated in non-Turing-complete constraint-layout systems like XAML or CSS. (You can get close, but it requires using huge hierarchies of layout nodes with tons of overhead, where the Windows UI actually got by with very few.)

> There's no real way to translate the classic theme "as designed" to hi-DPI systems, AFAIK

The classic theme supports arbitrary sizes (in px or "device-independent" units) for both text and widgets, which addresses HiDPI and touch readiness. What it might have trouble with however is mixed DPI, where moving a window across two screens requires rendering it with different pixel densities. But that was not on the horizon in the Windows 8.x days.

Indeed, and there also is a DPI scaling option at least as early as Windows 98, on top of the text/widget size configuration. I've used it on a 1200p monitor connected to a Windows 98 box, and it works.

It doesn't always produce the most beautiful results, but it's serviceable. And to be fair, it's taken a long time for high-DPI to consistently look beautiful even on recent versions of Windows. I shudder to remember looking at Device Manager on a display set to 125% in the DPI settings.

It was first available in Win95 Plus pack. Or you could use TweakUI.

> There's no real way to translate the classic theme "as designed" to hi-DPI systems, AFAIK;

This claim is entirely baseless. The "classic theme" is just a gray background plus some light/dark borders. There's absolutely zero difficulty doing that in hi-DPI, or any other environment for that matter.

Stop making excuses for Microsoft. Windows XP was a panicked and half baked response to the shinny Mac OS X Aqua interface, because that's what Microsoft had always done: following Apple's lead. I can't really blame them either, as following Apple's lead had led to great success for Microsoft.

Actually I lied, I do blame Microsoft for blindly chasing Apple's new shinny. Having established themselves as a pioneer and authority in UI design/usability with the revolutionary Windows 95 GUI, they should've had the confidence to stick to their guns and iterate their GUI without too much influence from the competition.

> You could in theory design a modern UI that resembles the classic UI, but it wouldn't really be "the classic UI".

I bet this would look awesome. Especially in high DPI.

Windows 10 is full of distractions, one time I thought my display was broken - transparency on title bar. And animations just add latency.

Disable transparency and windows animations (Settings > Display > Show transparency on Windows, Show animations in windows). Also disable "Fade or slide menus into view". Much better experience and not much to offload.

I just went through my settings on my work machine and:

* Disabled transparency

* Disabled animations

* Disabled scroll-bars being auto-hidden

Unfortunately, I couldn't find "Fade or slide menus into view", but the rest of the settings are night and day! Thank you.

You are welcome! I would not find myself:

* My Computer

* Right click

* Properties

* System properties

* Advanced

* Performance

* Settings

* Uncheck "Fade or slide menus into view"

* Apply / OK

I recommend to enable colors on Window Title Bar. It really improves visibility of foreground window.

Switching to classic theme in Win 7 turns off hardware compositor and disables Vsync for the desktop and shock horror the browser, at least on Intel integrated graphics laptop. Ugly theme or a vsync artifact while watching youtube, your choice.

I actually hated Win2K when it came out and tried to hold to NT 4.0 as long as I could, although I'm sure some of that was just youthful arrogance.

If I recall correctly, Win2K was a lot slower than NT 4.0 on the same hardware, and it featured some really bad UI ideas, like menus that auto-hide advanced menu items.

By the time XP was released I gave up the fight.

The initial XP theme was just awful; clearly a knee-jerk reaction to the OS X Aqua. It's too bad. The MS Whistler prototype screenshots looked great.


The later XP theme (Powerpack?) was half decent.

Some would say even today that it was NT4 that was the pinnacle. There are many things that can be said, but indeed Win2k was a hog compared to NT4 while being a fairly modest improvement (despite all the new features like Active Directory).

I'm sympathetic to that point of view, I loved NT4 too. I really liked the warmer shade of gray in W2K, but to me the biggest improvement W2K had over NT4 was the ability to revert to the previous display setting if you didn't confirm the new setting. I remember one time setting the refresh rate higher than my CRT monitor could handle on NT4, leaving me with a blank display. I had to borrow the better CRT monitor from my boss's office so that I could go back to a lower refresh rate.

Nowadays I only run Windows 2000 in a VM, and CRT refresh rate is no longer a concern, it may be worth considering going backing to NT4, as I'm pretty sure I can set the background to the warmer W2K gray in NT4. Thanks for the idea!

I remember those menus. Office 2000 had them as well. You had a menu with the options, but there was also an option to expand the menu, which revealed more options, with a lighter gray background than the main options.

It was an interesting idea about how to combat the problem of having too many menu items, but it wasn't great for discoverability. I can understand why it faded out.

Nice theme, never saw it. Tabs, dropdowns and scrollbar slightly off, title bar decoration quickly becomes invasive, otherwise - super.

Title bar, menubar and toolbar nicely muted down on background windows. Very professional look. And taskbar - so clean. Thank you, I like it even more than Classic theme.

The design of the GUIs were one of the reasons I got interested in two of the exotic beasts of the 1990s OS wars: BeOS and NeXT.

BeOS was a deliberately “vapourwave chiselled look with 90s cartoon icons” that screamed F.R.E.N.D.S and Melrose Place and edgy or avant-garde typography in nineties magazines.

NeXT on the other hand was austere, alabaster, eminently workable, but... so regular, so regular, so well thought-out, so utterly restrained and so internally consistent.

Those were wonderful GUIs. They had no pretence of disappearing into the background. They had to be clear signage for generations educated in the age of text-mode (and sometimes even still coming from the tail-end of the “typographic age”).

More like vaporwave, 90's were industrial and office design: something to make you feel productive. No 00's kid would understand this, we did. BeOS was a mix between the potential MS Office killer and the multimedia machine capabilities from the late 90's. No cyberpunk, no friends, no avant-garde. Just a boring office cubicle + multimedia production for artists. No, not for vaporwave music. Any music. Techno, classical, R&B, metal... anything. That, and video/image editing.

The late 90's screamed "workplace", "multimedia" and the information exchange era. Brutalist and futurism.

OFC Helvetica was mimicked from press, the media and press were HUGE back in the day, they had the same power as MS, Amazon, FB, Google and Netflix today. So we tried to clone magazines, VCRs, TV's, cubicles and stereos/radios in our computers. We succeeded.

Trying to explain the 90's with "vaporwave" is ridiculous. Those could be maybe for the early 90's demoscene for PC/Amiga. They were as obsolete in late 90's as Windows 98 today.

The late 90's were about replicating the mainstream media in your computer.

I agree with the Windows 2000 UI being great, but Windows XP ran better for me.

To get the best of both worlds I ran a spare copy of Windows Server 2003 as my "daily driver" on a Thinkpad back in the early 2000's. It had the Windows 2000 UI with the behind-the-scenes updates that came with Windows XP. Most software that installed on XP installed fine on Server 2003. It was nice.

I also ran Windows Server 2003 as my regular desktop OS for a few years. I got an evaluation copy in the mail at some point and just kept using it. Even with the extra overhead of running network services on it for my household, it was still more performant than Windows XP on that same computer.

I ran it for awhile too, on my laptop. I think that was back in my post-Vista try-all-the-other-options-out-there days, as I cannot remember what advantage it gave me that XP didn't have, but I do remember it being a pain to get set up for DirectX and other things that you generally wouldn't use on a server. Still, it did look cool to see my laptop displaying its "Windows Server 2003" screensaver in the library.

Hahah me too, problem was that no Antivirus worked because you needed the Antivirus-Server-version.

Completely agree about Windows 2000. I keep hoping Microsoft will do a faithful recreation of the classic UI for Windows 10. I've tried to find community-built options but nothing gets it right.

I don't mind XP's look so much, but I always switched back to classic style. I loved the ability to customize every color, font, etc. The rainy day theme is still my favorite.

> sensible information density

I see this all the time. A great deal of whitespace, and the "meat" of the display is confined to a small subsection with scroll bars.

One thing I like about HN is the focus on using the display for content, rather than decoration.

You know you can turn off the theming shit, right? XP or even Win7 can look mostly like Win2k.

> I'm still rather baffled about how people look back fondly on XP

Imho that's probably based on Windows Vista setting the bar so low that, in contrast, XP looked like something rather good.

All true. But please do not forget the startup times which was almost an eternity to boot up. In a time without SSDs and no prefetch cache.

NT 3.5.1 SP3 had all the internals - 2000 just added a new UI.

Best if run on a DEC Alpha chip

NT4 and 2000 (NT5) were more than just UI. We added loads of features.

The memories this brings back!

I turned 18 midway through 1999 and since I was deeply interested in multiprocessor OSes (chiefly, BeOS) I asked for (and was lucky enough to get) a dual PIII-450 system as an 18th birthday/high-school graduation gift.

I dual booted BeOS 5.5 and Windows NT 4.0. Windows 98SE would work, but it didn’t have support for SMP, so one of the processors would be deactivated. On the other hand, it NT 4.0 didn’t support USB, and I had several USB peripherals (my very first digital camera, a Canon IXUS, and a flatbed scanner).

That’s why in June 1999 I joined the Windows 2000 beta programme. It was amazing to have the full power of the dual processors, the “interesting” new GUI, and USB support all rolled into one system. I remember being quite smitten with Windows from just about then until a couple of years after the release of XP (the fabled “XP SP2” being when I jumped ship and switched to Mac OS X 10.2).

Anyway, yes, Windows 2000 (or “Win 2k” as it was affectionately known in those millennial years) was a true monument, a watershed, a massive accomplishment when compared technically to its immediate predecessor Windows NT 4.0 (SP6a) and an immense effort bring the NT line to “functional parity” with the Windows 9x line. I was stunned that it was replaced so soon by Windows XP (and also, stunned that XP endured for so long thereafter, but that’s another story).

It might be nostalgia talking, but those years felt like the end of a golden age.

I went to university at 17 in 2001 with a Dell notebook and a self built Duron (IIRC) tower. Instead of partying, I used my new found freedom (and decent internet connection) to try every OS and piece of software I could get my hands on (though I never stumbled across BeOS). I spent the most time with Windows 2000 Server on the notebook (as a "client") and Redhat on the tower (as a "server").

It was a different time then. Lot's of free time, huge explosion in open source software, basically no network security or limitations.

It certainly feels like we currently live in a golden age of open source software and open access for tinkering.

Linux desktops/laptops finally seem to work out of the box (as opposed to hunting for a WiFi driver to sneakernet over, or reinstalling the OS yet again due to some unidentifiable issue), gaming is finally viable on Linux, Microsoft has multiple compelling open source offerings like PowerShell (for Linux!), .NET core, and VSCode (regardless of my latent skepticism from the EEE era.)

For the past 5 years, I've used Linux exclusively for my main driver (dev, gaming, tinkering, etc.,) something I simply wouldn't have had the patience to do even a decade ago due to the lack of maturity of these systems on the desktop. Browsing distrowatch and just installing whatever interests you feels more viable than it ever has been. This year, I am using Pop!_OS primarily, which just works out of the box. It includes a built-in, robust tiling manager, and I have access to incredible free, open source IDEs and text editors that feel more powerful than what I paid for in the past. It's a good time to be a "techie" in the world.

I spent a long time with Lubuntu as my go to. Things have certainly come a long way, but I was more than willing to put in the time tinkering to get things working.

The past couple years, I've been using Windows 10 with WSL2 for personal stuff. It is ok, but I think I'll go back to some Linux flavor once the mood strikes me.

All that said, I've been using OS X for work for a decade and it has gone down hill in the most depressing way...

As far as the golden age of open source? Some of my friends agree with you. Some think it ended as open source came to be dominated by big corporations. I actually think it is yet to come as the whole of humanity gains access and becomes involved. I guess time will tell.

I could (and almost did) write nearly this exact comment myself, right down to turning 18 in mid 1999 and getting the same graduation present!

Windows 2000 is still the only version of Windows I truly enjoyed using. Just seeing the screenshots brought me back to using my beige tower in my dorm room with Winamp, Half Life, and Napster shortcuts on my desktop.

Well, despite the "fisher-price" UI, XP did build upon 2000 in many good ways - much better 9x compatibility, newer DirectX, lots of small UI improvements, and then SP3's firewall which finally made Windows somewhat safe to use, despite the continual security war and dangerous IE 6.

XP stuck around because Vista simply wasn't compelling. A technical failure by MS, released too early, for no good reason; it never had the things we were promised like the database filesystem, and offered really no reason for a normal consumer to want to upgrade. So around it stuck, just like 7 did while 8 floundered.

Things are different with 10, the Eternal Windows, and so who knows what will happen next in regards to this tick-tock cadence of OS progress?

But Vista was not a technical failure but more a commercial failure. I am not an expert but I am pretty sure massive chunks of the OS were updated in Vista that took years to debug and smooth out to what is now Windows 10. You are also correct that XP was technically more advanced than 2000 but I am not sure of the specifics. All I remember is pro audio applications and audio device drive drivers ran much better in Windows XP sp2.

1. Driver issues plagued Vista.

2. Xp capable systems weren't powerful enough to run the new generation of operating systems.

Vista was the scapegoat to force hardware upgrade.

Samething happened with windows 8 forcing upgrade to touch screen.

"massive chunks of the OS were updated in Vista that took years to debug and smooth out to what is now Windows 10"

This is key, and also shows why, at least at release, the technical failures of Vista were what drove its commercial failure.

Part of it was the jump in specs - the infamous Intel chipsets that were Windows Vista certified, but couldn't run Aero, and in general the huge boost in requirements from XP.

Part of it was changes with in the OS, such as protecting the Program Files folder(s), and Vista's Shadow Copy system, which wrecked havoc with programs that stored user-modifiable configuration files (and more) in their install directory. Yes, Microsoft had been recommending against that for awhile, but it still broke a lot.

But as much of it was ecosystem readiness due to changes to changes to the driver model. There was some support for XP drivers, but it was still painful. I used Vista without service packs. It was bad, bad enough that I switched back to XP. Let's just say there's a reason that I didn't buy another nVIDIA graphics card for another decade.

It was so easy to ditch the Fisher-Price UI and pick the Classic UI in WinXP. I really can't imagine holding that UI against WinXP!

Microsoft's best OS of all time was Windows 2000. Imho, Snow Leopard was Apple's best.

There is something nice about a bug free operating system that "just works" as intended. No problems, no hassles. No load times, even back then. Back then it was common to have a computer with 128MB+ of ram but Windows 2000 ran on 64MB of that, so it was the first non page file heavy OS that just snapped. In comparison, a year later Windows XP could use over 256MB of ram before getting to the same speed, and this was when computer magazines were recommending less than 512MB of ram, because it was overkill.

Today computers are fast, but Catalina feels quite a bit slower than Windows 2000 did when it came out, and Catalina is quite a bit more buggy.

Extreme system stability is nice, but I question if most people even know what that is like.

No load times?! I seem to remember Win 95-XP era involved almost comically long boot times especially if you waited for your hard drive to stop churning after getting to the desktop, but maybe I am misremembering. It wasn't so much the OS's fault, though.

It depends on if you're talking boot times, or program loading times. I agree, every computer I had until 2007 had terrible boot times.

But I've compared how long it takes to start Word on my Pentium II 450 MHz running Windows 98, with Word 2000, to my Core i5 2500 K (3.3 GHz) running Windows 8.1, with Word 2010. The Pentium II wins.

I don't how much of the difference was Windows versus Office, but it's a sad indication of the slowdown in software outpacing the speedup in hardware.

Office has become way way slower, I would mostly put it down to that. Lean applications can still start pretty fast. One other thing making it slower is antivirus software scanning every binary you run before it opens, including Defender. Turning off Defender is a reliable way to improve app load times.

Yah 95-Me era ran pretty slow and horrible.

Though 95 was pretty revolutionary when it came out.

The actual revolution came with Windows Game SDK (later known as DirectX) which allowed Windows to finally surpass MS-DOS as a gaming platform.

Yeah... imagine if they would have shipped that in a single task version, sort of like a DOS / XBOX1 hybrid. Games would have rocked, even on frugal hardware.

Well, DirectX ran games better than DOS.

> Microsoft's best OS of all time was Windows 2000. Imho, Snow Leopard was Apple's best.

Windows 2000 was very good, but I'm also fond of Windows for Workgroups 3.11. It had a certain simplicity and directness that they lost in the move to Windows 95. (And WfWG could run both 32-bit drivers and 32-bit software, as long as Win32s was installed.)

Not all Win32 software ran on Win32s, as Win32s didn't support things like memory protection and multithreading, right?

I believe it supported memory protection, but not preemetive multithreading and multiprocessing. It was still cooperative multiprocessing underneath. If the program was written correctly (most were initially, since Win 3.1 was more common for a few years still), it would function on both just swimmingly.

Not at all.... The best way to think of Win32s was that it was analogous to a "DOS Extender", but for Windows. The main point of what it did was to allow the use of a different memory model under an existing operating system. In the case of Windows 3.1x, this really meant eliminating the notion of segments, by widening segment offsets from 16 to 32 bits. In 16-bit Windows, accessing linear structures >64K requires additional pointer arithmetic, which Win32 eliminated.

The way it did this was to hook into the executable loader to add support for the PE binary format used by Windows NT. It also provided a set of shim libraries that took the existing 16-bit Windows API and projected it into the 32-bit address space. The underlying implementation was still 16-bit, but it could now be called from 32-bit code. This essentially meant that Win32s was the subset of Win32 that was in common with Win16 (and so was missing lots of features from Windows NT).

So think about where this puts WfWG3.11:

* So Win32s added a 32-bit executable loader and shim Win32 API libraries.

* Down in the foundation of Windows (since Windows/386) was VMM, which provided 32-bit OS services

* WfWG 3.11 introduced something called "32 Bit File Access", which was a natively 32-bit implementation of the file system running in VMM.

So the original line of Windows development has already made major strides towards being a 32-bit OS, even before Windows 95. What Windows 95 does is build out that 32-bit shim layer, so there are more full fledged 32-bit implementations of more of the Win32 API, and to do that, it also expands VMM to provide the necessary 32-bit services. (For threading and the like). So far more evolutionary than the 'full 32-bit rewrite that it was once viewed to be.

One easy way to see the impact of all this is in Notepad. Notepad is essentially a wrapper around the standard Windows edit control, which stayed implemented in 16-bit code through all of what I've described above. This is why Notepad was always limited to 32K (IIRC) files on these older versions of Windows, and does not have that limitation on versions of Windows that were fully implemented in 32-bit code.

I also tend to think this is a good engineering solution to a tricky problem. Windows 95 was originally intended to run on very small machines... think 8MB or so in a world where you needed 32MB to run Windows NT. Even if they'd had the engineering resources to fully rebuild consumer Windows as 32-bit, there's no way they'd have come close to meeting their memory budget (or their sales targets).

Correct. win32s was mostly a shim layer that let you access 32 bit registers and the win32 API. But the actual OS was still the 16 bit windows/dos hybrid

ah, just thinking of Snow Leopard makes me swoon... I don't know if the rose-tinted glasses are too strong, or if that OS was really as snappy, simple, and polished as I remember.

I'm almost certain that Snow Leopard woke up from sleep on a 2010 Macbook Pro faster than Mojave wakes up on a 2019, but I don't have proof. It was definitely more reliable.

I learned Python on a white MacBook running Snow Leopard. Those were the days. I don't remember a single instance where it crashed. Super reliable.

The wake from sleep behavior is really bad on modern MBPs, feels like it takes an eternity, too much black screen then the password screen just isn't responsive for a good 10 seconds sometimes.

Actually the power on behavior is bad too, without the chime you can never really tell if the thing is working or not.

10.6 was also Apple's peak server OS. Open Directory + Workgroup Manager set my standard for how OpenLDAP ought to be managed.

Notably, it was also their last server os. OS X server lived on, but as just an app.

Snow Leopard was an entire release dedicated to making Leopard faster and more stable ... so at first glance it makes sense your memory of it is so positive.

> No load times, even back then.

Somebody at Disney seems to have had a different experience:


Load times were terrible. Time makes you forget the bad and glorify the good.

Wrong era.

The OS in the cartoon was called "Doors 2000". Seems pretty squarely targeted at this.

Everything in the 90s had 2000 in its name.

I didn’t use 200 much, but I feel this way about windows Xp. It just worked. It seemed super stable and not bloated.

Windows XP is Windows 2000 with a theme. Though the difference in resources was Win2k could run on 32MB of ram, and XP ran on 256, despite being the same OS with the same functionality, even the same drivers.

If you had beefy enough hardware, which we all eventually did years after XP came out, it ran as fast and almost as stable as 2000.

If you didn't mind the bland theme, and wanted higher FPS while gaming, with more responsiveness (less of a delay when double clicking on a window, for example) then running Windows 2000 over XP was a no brainer. In competitive first person shooter circles at the time, people preferred Win2k to XP for these reasons.

xp ran under 64 and 128 too. But with 128 was a bit slow.

Really? My experience was driver nightmares and having to reinstall the OS every 6 months with XP. It wasn't til 7 that most of that went away.

Yes Win2000 was perfect from the start, xp really was a nightmare until sp2 and got really stable when sp3 came. But W2k is still my favorite windows version.

Interestingly, 'bloated' was exactly the word used most often to describe XP on forums back then.

That Fisher Price colored theme though...

Not sure why so many people complain about it when it was trivial to enable a classic theme to make it look like Win2K.

It was also commonplace to use the UXTheme patcher to enable third-party custom window themes. I used the Watercolor theme, which was modeled after the Whistler beta builds before they (bafflingly) switched it out for Luna.

I have a soft spot for Windows 2000 because I was very impressed with it when it first came out (coming from Win9x), but there wasn't much point to using it over XP after XP came out. Windows XP is just an improved version of 2000, and it was updated for much longer. Windows 2000 doesn't even support wi-fi without third-party utilities.

I did the same but I recall there was a few elements that remained - the windows logo on the start menu was a bit colourful, and a few other bits couldn’t be changed too

The Windows logo in the Start menu was a bit colorful in Windows 95 and NT 4.0 as well. I'll grant you that the logo itself is slightly different in XP, but it had been colorful for years by that point.

XP's classic mode looked somewhat like Windows 98/2000.

For those who liked Windows 2000's no-nonsense interface, another forgotten masterpiece IMO was Windows Server 2003 as a desktop OS. It had all of the clean minimalism of Windows 2000, both in terms of UI and lack of cruft, with the good bits of XP installable on demand. It's my most fondly remembered Microsoft OS.

Same here. I don't remember where I got it from, I think I had a license from MSDN AA when I went to university. It was hands down my favorite Windows ever. 2000 was the second most-favorite, and 7 was the third.

From what I remember it went like this:

  Microsoft: we're giving everyone the NT Kernel

  Geeks: No, we want 9x Kernel

  Microsoft: Fine, here's Windows ME

  Geeks: Noooooo!

  Microsoft: Releases Windows 2000

  Geeks: We want Windows 2000
It was so much more solid than Windows ME and they had 99% of the NT compatibility layer figured out by SP1 (if that's what it was called). But the best thing for me was that I had 2 processor motherboard with 2x 1Ghz P3s and the 9x Kernel couldn't handle that.

Who was clamoring for the 9x kernel? No me nor any geeks I knew...

And as sibling mentioned, ME was before 2000. I remember this because at one point the actively marketed versions were Windows ME, NT and of course CE for those ARM devices. Some people, complaining Windows was slow, pointed out that if you rearrange those version identifiers you get Windows CE-ME-NT (cement).

Windows 2000 came out before Windows ME.

Windows 2000, with New NT Technology!

I always got a giggle out of that. It's the only Windows OS I've ever professionally developed for and I have to say I found it surprisingly pleasant when I could avoid the legacy APIs. Jeffrey Richter's book[1] was a great resource and helped me to appreciate the OS.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1572319968/

Try it out in your browser - emulated in WebAssembly: https://bellard.org/jslinux/vm.html?url=https://bellard.org/...

People tend to forget this was during a period when computers were computers and actual work was done on them. Now they're over powered terminals.

But you need lots of power to run a browser nowadays.

Love the expression 'over powered terminals' that's sooo true!

> But you need lots of power to run a browser nowadays.

Quite right; the vast majority of "actual work" that one would do locally on the machine, requires a lot less power than booting up a web browser and surfing to a random "modern" website. Funny how that works.

We're all forgetting about the 'real' work that we routinely do on our computers, because that kind of thing has gotten so rock-solid and doesn't even measurably tax compute resources - even as browsing the web, of all things, has only become increasingly fiddly and heavy on our systems.

Problem is, the actual work we used to do locally and now do over webapps has to pay the performance price of browsing the web - resulting in severe UX degradation for anything but the most casual of uses.

It's partially modern web frameworks, too. I happened to load up the web version of Slack on a Core 2 Duo running at 2.2 GHz today, and it was unusable. By comparison, I remember using AIM via Meebo (remember that site?) on dial-up back in the late 2000's, on a Pentium 166 MHz laptop. It wasn't exactly snappy, but it was better than Slack was today on a 2 GHz laptop with 500 times the bandwidth and a fraction of the latency.

It probably would have been even better if I'd been using a native AIM client instead of Meebo, but I'm amazed by how inefficient some modern websites are.

AMSN under TCL/TK was even faster than Slack under Electron.

Windows 2000 is easily the best Microsoft OS I've used. I miss it dearly. I wrote VB6 apps for fun on it and was just the happiest clam. What an incredibly simple and enjoyable development experience!

Aside from the deep consistency of 2000's UI (after all it more or less progressively improved on the 3.x traditional widget set with in some cases little more than a recompile required to get the new theme), 2000 was the first consumer experience of a PC OS featuring real per-process virtual memory, and this is probably a big reason why everyone (including myself) remembers it so fondly.

Because this would increase stability?

NT had it first, but NT didn't really get much of any consumer exposure. Windows 95 was much closer to the Windows 3.1 everything-shared memory model: 16-bit apps (which were still in widespread use) continued being able to access hardware and each others' memory, and memory belonging to the most recently executed 32-bit app. NTVDM in Windows 2000 also supported 16-bit apps, but they were strictly isolated from each other, the hardware, and any 32-bit app.

The upshot was a 16-bit utility that would crash or corrupt an unrelated app (or the entire machine) in 3.1 or 95 would only crash itself in 2000. The driver model was also completely redesigned, but I don't know much about that.

Any time you hear the old meme about Linux being more stable than Windows, it's important to realize it dates back 20 years when Linux had per-process virtual memory and Windows did not.

I was given cracked/pirate install disk at a LAN party in ~2000 because I was having SMB network problems with 98. Win2k was so much better in all ways and it could play counter-strike and medal of honor just fine. I kept using it till the mid-2000s around my switch to Ubuntu 5.04.

Windows 2000 is my favorite windows version. I like the color scheme and how lightweight (from today's perspective) it is. A vm of win2000 and office 2003 is a good option for old office file comparability.

"If you used a PC in the late ’90s, you were quite familiar with the frequent crashes, lockups, and reboots that were common on MS-DOS, Windows 3.x, and Windows 9x. The DOS-based PC ecosystem was a house of cards built on an ancient patchwork of code that ran on endless variations of hardware."

House of cards literally and figuratively -- I have fond memories of fighting with QEMM386 and PROTOCOL.INI/NET.CFG and IRQs to get both my network card _and_ sound card working at the same time, only to then have to then get that all to work with Windows!

I remember writing essays in Word, and if you didn't save them every minute, who knows how much work you might randomly lose.

Win 2000 was a revolution for me, back then I was a heavy delphi user and it's debugger crashing would kill Win98, like straight BOOM gone.

Win 2000 just shook it off and kept going, that alone was worth the upgrade.

We had twice-daily reboots for anyone in our marketing department that worked with Photoshop or Quark. After upgrading from Windows 98 to Windows 2000, all the problems were solved and I looked like a hero.

David Cutler is a Man of Focus, Commitment and Sheer Fucking Will - the bodies of microsoft operating systems he buried that day are the foundations of what they are today.

Windows 2000 is still in use in a microSD factory in Taiwan!

It's being used by some pick & place machines and ovens. The machines are rented with a 30-year lease. Changing the software will void the warranty.

They're not connected to the Internet. My task was to parse the binary data to log machine usage and yield, and post that to a SQL database.

There's no .NET framework. I went back to Visual Studio 2005, and coded it all in C++. It was an interesting challenge! I was left with a good impression of how reliable Win2k is though, especially compared to newer OSes (even macOS > 10.9). I hope that some flavour of Linux will break into the mainstream this decade, probably taking cues from the Win2k/OS9 user experience.

I know company that have a sawmill device running on Windows98SE.

Also not connected to internet and working standalone.

> It Was Rock-Solid Stable, Unlike Windows Me.

Under Windows NT, each process runs w/ its own LDT (Local Descriptor Table). Process memory bounds are enforced by the processor MMU.

Windows 95, 98, Me, used a single shared LDT, for better backwards compatibility, but with far less protection. I believe I've got this right, but happy to be corrected.

The sad thing about this, is just how long Windows users had to suck it up (5 years!?), until 2K finally came along, pushed as a consumer OS.

By far the best GUI experience. I will also attest to its rock solid stability.

Next to BeOS (#1), it's on my top list of favorite OS's

On both OS's ATI's TV Wonder ran like a dream!

I managed to avoid the whole Windows-on-DOS family. I went from DOS 6.2 to Windows NT 3.51, then Windows NT 4, then Windows 2000, then Windows 7. Only the good ones. Why run Microsoft's dud products?

Now, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

It's too bad that Microsoft no longer sells a good desktop OS. Windows 10 is a warmed-over tablet GUI forced onto a desktop. With ads. With terrible updates which break things. Do not want.

> Windows 10 is a warmed-over tablet GUI forced onto a desktop. With ads. With terrible updates which break things.

... as a Service.

I'm stuck with it, but God, I miss Win2k and Win2k3.

I was OK with Windows 7. So was most of corporate America. That's when they finally got the thing pretty much debugged. Between the Static Driver Verifier and the classifier for panic dumps sent to Microsoft HQ, they were finally able to get the kernel to crash very rarely.

Microsoft had to apply heavy pressure to get companies and individuals to upgrade to Windows 10. It was "an offer you can't refuse", not an improved product. That's different from previous versions, where there was real forward progress.

Yes, "as a Service", and with built-in spyware, er, "telemetry".

Try the LTSC version, all the "good" Windows without the crap.

Recommended for admin systems class, ended up using it as personal OS for much longer. It was a beast of stability! (Although win98 rev2 was a quite good ironed out OS before win2000 and with less requirements, given you didn’t install/uninstall a lot of apps, prob windows registry messing up)

Windows 2000 felt like a tank. You'd boot it thinking it was meant to run servers and web sites, but you could run it on your PC, and play games on it. It was robust. You could finally boast of high uptimes like the Linux folk!

The best macOS interface was 10.3 in my opinion, here’s some screenshots:


I loved the "brushed metal" look in 10.3, I remember trying to install various mods to force "brushed metal" onto more applications.

You can't really tell from the static screenshots, but Apple put a lot of effort into making brushed metal windows look good -- it wasn't just a static texture, but instead a composition of multiple layered elements that scaled in different ways as you resized the window. I remember seeing "brushed metal" themes on Linux and Windows at the time, and none of them could come close to 10.3's level of polish.

10.4 was better.

I have many not so fond memories of hitting a specific key sequence to allow loading an hdd controller driver or something like it when installing win2k. But it was miles better than 98se. And wow the contemporaneous ME was such an enormous disaster at the time— still remember one of the other computer nerds in high school espousing the benefits of what he saw as the soon to come “made for Windows ME” games.” Thankfully my dad knew better and saw through the ME hype, sparing the expense and the terribly buggy UX.

I still have Windows 2000 (air-gapped, naturally) running on an ancient system for some pretty old hardware. I remember being on the Beta list for it when it was "NT 5."

There’s a great book on the history of Windows NT (precursor of Windows 2000) called “Show Stopper!: The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft”.

My uncle put Windows 2000 on a new PC I got around 2001 or so. I liked the stability, but didn't like how it didn't run any DOS games. You really had to mess something up for it to crash. Fun fact: turning off the machine while booting would corrupt the installation, requiring a reformat and reinstall. It happened to me at least once.

I used it until about 2005, when running 2000 instead of XP didn't make sense anymore.

Call me cynical, but Win2k was probably developed by a small and tight-knit group of engineers, PMs and designers. It felt focused and ran most software well.

I think if I remember correctly, Win2k was meant to replace the Windows 98/DOS kernel but they couldn't get it to work in time. That's when WinXP came out instead. WinXP felt like the result of a much bigger org. Am I correct to speculate that in Microsoft, the NT teams and the DOS teams merged to create WinXP?

If so, that would explain XP and that probably created all kind of tonal and structural shifts, a result that was a massive eyesore of an OS. Plus their attempt to come up with a cute theme-able UI like OS X's Aqua was seriously half baked.

That's what Vista felt like too, compared to XP. And then it only got worse with Win 8+ and Win 10. Huge increases in bloat, for not much actual function.

I did some of my best development work on Windows 2000. From a developer's perspective it was just so simple, stable, and fast. MSSQL + IIS + ASP/PHP was a breeze for those early web apps.

2000 was so stable, and ran well in 128mb ram. It also introduced Active Directory with group policies, which still runs the majority of business Windows networks today (*source: I made that up)

> Windows 2000 also served as an alternative to its successor, Windows XP, for several years. XP included some features that were controversial at the time. These included an Internet-based product activation system that complained if you changed your PC hardware, and a colorful new shell interface some derided as “Fisher-Price.”

Did nobody ever change the theme back to Windows Classic? It was really simple to switch over (like, ten clicks at most) and then you could get comfortable with the 2000 interface again.

First thing I did after reinstall or if I was "fixing printer" or whatever in the family, then drop all crap from startup/registry, defrag, uninstall every toolbar/crapware that had uninstall. I always thought who is responsible for not giving to people system cleaned up like that? Mystery.

I usually ran it in the silver theme:


It was a big improvement over the default.

I loved Windows 2000 but it is so long ago.

KDE plasma with the windows like menu is just better in every way. I use to have a dual boot into Windows 10 but even that has been gone for a year or two.

Would still use win2k today as far as UI and such is concerned.

Still remember the day my last w2k machine booted - an ex was on myspace and just had to have the added benefits of 'zwinky' - foggy memory, but I think it was some kind of cartoon emoji thing you could use around myspace - well it apparently came with crapware installer that also loaded some malware that killed the machine on the next upgrade.

what a terrible way to lose my favorite machine at the time.

I had a desktop with Win2k installed on it from 2002 through 2010. My account was a regular user account and I only logged into the Administrator account if I needed to install or upgrade.

I actually lost the installation due to a lightning strike that damaged the system board. The surge protector wasn't enough it seems.

>"For a true blast from the past, let’s take a look at Windows 2000 Professional’s bare minimum system requirements at the time:

133 MHz or higher Pentium-compatible CPU.

64 megabytes (MB) of RAM recommended minimum; more memory generally improves responsiveness.

2 GB hard disk with a minimum of 650 MB of free space."

My guess is that with any reasonable speed SSD and a swap file -- you could have a responsive system at as little as 32 megabytes (MB) of RAM -- or possibly even less...

No. The BUS would still hinder it. For realistic purposes, 2k needed 96-128MB.

Windows 2000, together with Windows ME, was the last Windows version which didn't have WPA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Product_Activation), so you didn't have to worry when you upgraded your hardware (not to mention the privacy implications).

Yes i have to say i pirated W2k, WinME (preinstalled) was unbearable, i put my money away for one year to buy a nice Desktop, and Windows ME just made me sad, nothing worked, i just had no additional 300$ to buy Win2000pro...i was so mad about Microsoft, i called them to ask for a exchange from WinME to W2K..cost still 300$ thanks Microsoft.

This was the last version of Windows I used outside of work. I remember that it didn't support a lot of things I had hoped to do with my PC. A lot of "Windows" software either didn't run at all in Win2k or was unreliable in it. Games and multimedia software were especial offenders.

Windows 2000 ran smoothly on a pentium 1 233mhz laptop with 96MB memory and allowed me to do websites in 2001.

I share the same memory. I remember being very impressed how it run on my Dell laptops Pentium 233 MMX and 64 MB RAM. It even had the driver support for 3Com 14.4k PCMCIA modem... ah the nostalgia!

I was just starting college and Windows 2000 was all the rage. I installed it but I had a nasty issue where I kept getting a BSOD randomly in games after 5-30 minutes of gameplay.

I updated my drivers for everything and spent hours looking for a solution. No dice. Went back to 98 till XP dropped.

Windows 2000 will always be my favorite version of Windows.

Its a good thing MacOSX came along right before Windows XP.

Just a reminder that "Showstopper", about the development of Windows NT, is a great read.

Gee, I was using Windows ME until 2012, then OS X 10.4 until this year. After all the comments on this page, I shall feel less ashamed/embarrassed about that in future, seems I got good operating systems. I loved them, they worked great. (And still do.)

Unpopular opinion: Remembering with great fondness Quarterdeck's DESQview/X, the open systems, off-the-shelf windowing environment that could have won the windowing war. How life would have been different if it had...

I remember[1] Windows 2000 somewhat differently. It was the windows that made me finally install debian potato.

[2] > Overall, there are more than 65,000 "potential issues" that could emerge as problems, as discovered by Microsoft's Prefix tool. Microsoft is estimating that 28,000 of these are likely to be "real" problems.

And now I'm curious about what this Prefix tool was.

[1] https://slashdot.org/story/00/02/11/1840225/windows-2000-has... [2] https://www.zdnet.com/article/bugfest-win2000-has-63000-defe...

You can get back that old-school Windows feeling on Linux with https://github.com/grassmunk/Chicago95

Chicago95 is nice, but I'd like to see a reimplementation of the old GTK2 themes, now that GTK3 seems to have gotten a stable theming interface. It could even be merged upstream, or at least be contributed to the major distro repositories.

I miss Gorilla and the one with a metallic theme. And the one from the Java Metal theme.

Not that Win2K was that amazing (the Win32 API was then and still is today really full of inconsistencies, always favoring quantity over quality), but it certainly was the best Windows I've worked with.

The article missed the best part, you could install Windows 2000 from 4 floppy disks!

I've used it a lot in my younger years, it only was manageable after SP4. God those updates took forever

The floppies only bootstrapped an environment to install the rest of the OS from a larger storage media, though.

Even Linux did that back in the day. CD-ROM boot was far from universally supported, let alone USB mass storage. Boot floppies were the most reliable way of starting up an external OS.

My first job was on Windows 2000. Rock solid, fast, with perfectly consistent UI. How did we end up with the 10 different UI styles of Windows 10?

Wouldn't it be nice for MS to release A GNU/linux distro with the official Win2k UI.

PS. That network monitor icon in the taskbar was quite brilliant!

Icewm has something similar to that tray icon. Also, with Chicago 95 icon theme and some IceWM/GTK2-3 themes you can almost copycat the W2k theme.

Remember how much more solid it felt than 98, Windows dragged and resized smoothly and I don't remember them really having tearing.

If only it had been better at gaming. Everything about it seemed solid but gaming always felt like a 2nd class citizen.

Would Microsoft consider putting in the classic desktop in Windows 10 if enough people wanted it?

Windows 2000 was great and really reduced bluescreen frequency compared to Windows 95 and 98.

It was mainly because Win2k was basically the next version of WinNT which had nothing in common with Win95/98 under the hood.

Yeah, windows has had 3 major flavors in its history. Win 1.x-3.x were just GUIs on top of DOS. Win9x was a true operating system with a kernel, but the kernel was still running on top of DOS. NT, what we have now, is a kernel that runs directly on the hardware. On 32-bit machines dos programs are run using a virtual machine

2000 was also more stable than NT 3.51 and NT4.

XP was a bit more stable again, but also contained more cruft.

Steve Gibson was running 2000 until about 2011. I was doing the same on a 1GHz p3 laptop.

This is such an "ok boomer" thread, but what can we take away from it? What lesson can we take from this to repeat the success with today's tech?

IMO the key was drivers:

> While the press criticized some of Windows 2000’s driver support at launch, the OS actually supported far more hardware configurations than Windows NT 4.0.

I ran NT 4 as a desktop and it was quite the chore with a mix of hacks and repurposing other drivers for similar hardware.

This reminds me of the Linux desktop experience now. With comprehensive driver support and an intuitive UX, Linux can be dominant as a desktop alternative to Win/Mac.

The litmus test is if Mom and Dad can manage it themselves, it's attained equal status to the above.

Windows 2000, like many 'server' Windows OS, took FOREVER AND EVER to boot up. It could have been more popular on desktop-class machines if it wasn't due to that.

Yeah, slow spinning disks that needed defrag from time to time. I think we would all be surprised if booted from current cpu, ssd and amount of ram.

It was ridiculously fast on RAID-0 15k SCSI drives.

Disk speed has been holding back computing for 25 years.

Windows 20000 had a workstation release.

What a great OS.

133 MHz

64 MB

2 GB

Luxury. Back in the '95 days you were lucky if you had 4 MB RAM.

When 2000 arrived everyone had at least 64/128MB of RAM for sure, and the k7/Pentium2 was the most common CPU.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact