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|Version of Microsoft Windows|
|OS family||Windows 9x|
Windows Millennium Edition, shortened to Windows Me (codenamed Millennium), is an operating system developed by Microsoft which was released on 14 September 2000. It is the third and final major release of the Windows 9x operating system line, which succeeded Windows 98. Even though it is still based on MS-DOS, it restricted access to real mode DOS in order to cut boot times down. It introduces a number of features and enhancements, particularly geared towards multimedia such as Windows Media Player 7.0, Windows Movie Maker, Internet Explorer 5.5 or improved support for scanners and digital cameras. The user experience has also been updated with improvements that were previously introduced in Windows 2000. It was replaced in October 2001 by Windows XP, the first consumer version to be based on Windows NT codebase. Mainstream support for Windows Me ended on 31 December 2003, and extended support was discontinued later on 11 July 2006—together with Windows 98.
Windows Me was an interim release, which sprang into being during the development of Windows 2000. Originally, it was planned that Windows 98 would be the last Windows 9x-based release, until Microsoft announced in 1999 that they would produce one more version based on the 9x codebase. It was created as a stopgap release, to keep consumers satisfied while a consumer NT release was finalized. It was developed by a small team and rushed to market, in order to coincide more or less with the release of Windows 2000. It was essentially designed to look and feel very similar to Windows 2000, while also using the old 9x kernel.
According to Microsoft, Windows Me requires a Pentium 150 MHz processor, at least 32 MB of RAM, 320 MB of hard drive space (varies depending on components being installed), and a VGA or better display adapter.
It is possible to bypass most of these requirements via the
/nm parameter for
SETUP.EXE. By doing so, it becomes possible to install Windows Me on a 486 processor with as low as 8 MB of RAM. Windows Me drops support for the 80386 processor.
Windows Me does not support having more than 1 GB of RAM due to a bug in the memory allocator. Windows Me will often encounter system instability or crashing upon boot on these systems without additional fixes.
Upon initial release, Windows Me received generally favorable reviews with many of its new features getting praise from both critics and users - in succeeding years, it became the subject of heavy criticism for its poor performance and stability, which led many people to opt for Windows 2000 or continue using earlier 9x-based releases. One of many factors that caused the operating system to be negatively received was the rapidly aging Windows 9x kernel, and the way its memory management worked: both 16-bit and 32-bit apps ran on the same memory layer. If a single 16-bit process crashed, then the rest of the processes within that layer would have also crashed.
The removal of MS-DOS mode, which many users at the time largely relied on to run certain legacy applications, was also a subject of controversy. While DOS-based programs could still run in an MS-DOS prompt, the ability to use MS-DOS in real mode without Windows running was removed. Microsoft did this mainly to minimize I/O conflicts and decrease boot times. In spite of this, there have been unofficial patches and workarounds to restore DOS mode in Windows Me. One method is to use the emergency boot disk provided with the operating system to boot directly to a DOS prompt. Additionally through unofficial patches, modifying/editing certain system files such as
AUTOEXEC.BAT will restore functionality to boot into DOS mode through the startup menu.
Despite its poor reception, some have reported overall positive experiences with the operating system, citing that it ran faster and was a substantial improvement over Windows 98.
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