Build list legend
|Version of Microsoft Windows|
|OS family||Windows 9x|
Windows Millennium Edition, or Windows Me (codenamed Millennium), is an operating system developed by Microsoft, which was released in 2000. It was based on the Windows 9x/DOS architecture and was often called the "home edition" of Windows 2000.
It introduces a number of features and enhancements, especially geared towards multimedia such as System Restore, Windows Media Player 7.0, Windows Movie Maker and a new "Scanners and Cameras" applet. This version also updates Internet Explorer to version 5.5, as well as introducing a new standard driver model. It also incorporates design cues from Windows 2000 into the user interface.
It succeeds both releases of Windows 98 and was itself replaced by its NT-based successor, Windows XP. This is the last version of Windows to be built on top of MS-DOS, and the last of the Windows 9x family of operating systems.
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 code base. 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.
Upon initial release, Windows Me received generally favorable reviews, with many of its new features getting praise from both critics and users. Though in succeeding years, it has become 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 releases instead. One of the 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 one 16-bit process crashed, then the rest of the processes within that layer would have also crashed.
Another factor that contributes towards its negative reputation is the removal of MS-DOS mode, which many users at the time heavily relied on to run certain applications. While DOS-based programs can still run in a 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 had overall positive experiences with Windows Me, citing that it ran faster, and was a substantial improvement over Windows 98 in some aspects.