Build list legend
|Version of Microsoft Windows|
|OS family||Windows 9x|
Windows Millennium Edition, shortened to Windows Me (codenamed Millennium, and sometimes abbreviated as "M-E"), is an operating system developed by Microsoft, which was released in 14 September 2000. It was based on the Windows 9x/DOS architecture and was often called the "home edition" of Windows 2000. It is the third and final major release in the Windows 9x operating system line and succeeds both releases of Windows 98 and was itself replaced by Windows XP, which is based on the Windows NT kernel instead. Mainstream support for Windows Me ended on 31 December 2003. Unlike Windows 98, Windows Me received only two years of extended support, which means that support for Windows Me ended on the same day support for Windows 98, and Windows NT Embedded 4.0 ended on 11 July 2006.
It introduces a number of features and enhancements, particularly 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 the design cues and color scheme from Windows 2000 into the user interface.
This is the last MS-DOS-based Windows product before the unification of the DOS-based and Windows NT line, the last client version of Windows to use the Windows Classic theme and the last version of Windows overall to use the classic Start menu by default. It is also the last release of Windows to have support for WebTV for Windows as Microsoft discontinued support for the application starting with Windows XP. This version also drops the ability to upgrade from Windows 3.1x, as it now requires Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows 98 SE for an upgrade. The normal "Upgrade" distributions support upgrading from Windows 95, while the "Promotional Step-Up Upgrade" distributions are exclusively for an upgrade from Windows 98 or Windows 98 SE. It is the last version to support upgrade paths from Windows 95 and to Windows XP prior to SP3.
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.