Windows Me

Windows Me
Version of Microsoft Windows
OS familyWindows 9x
Latest build4.90.3000A
Release date2000-09-14
Support end2006-07-11
Windows 98
Replaced by
Windows XP

Windows Me or Windows Millennium Edition (codenamed Millennium), is an operating system developed by Microsoft which was released on 14 September 2000.[1] 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.

Development[edit | edit source]

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 16/32-bit hybrid release, until Microsoft announced in 1999 that they would produce one more version based on the 9x codebase. This release was demanded under contracts with OEMs as they wanted a stopgap release, to keep consumers satisfied while a consumer NT release was finalized. It was developed by a small team within a year, in order to coincide more or less with the release of Windows 2000.

Main changes[edit | edit source]

User interface[edit | edit source]

Program crash dialog showing register dumps

Many of the user interface elements inherited from Windows 2000 include the updated color scheme, personalized program menus which display the most frequently used programs, the ability to lock the taskbar which prevents it from being moved or resized (this feature was also in Windows Neptune build 5111), having dedicated folders for music and videos alongside the My Pictures folder introduced with Windows 2000 and the ability to expand the Control Panel as a link within the Start menu, showing the Control Panel items in the taskbar without having to open another window. Image thumbnails are now readily visible through enabling it in the View menu, showing previews of image files within Windows Explorer. This functionality was previously available in Windows 98, except more hidden as the option could only be enabled through the properties dialog of the directory and checking "Enable thumbnail view".

Other subtle changes include System Properties now displaying accurate CPU information just like Windows 2000 as well as faster hardware detection dialogs. The "illegal operation" dialog has been replaced with a more minimalist dialog when a program crashes. Despite the lack of the Details>> button, it still provides detailed register dumps via pressing Alt+D and through the logged faultlog.txt file.

Applications and components[edit | edit source]

  • ZIP archive support is now included by default, being previously introduced with Microsoft Plus! 98.
  • Internet Explorer 5.5 was introduced alongside newer versions of Outlook Express and Address Book.
  • Internet Zone Games have been added including Internet Backgammon, Checkers, Hearts, Reversi, and Spades.
  • MSN Internet Access has been updated with a new icon.
  • Paint now asks to enlarge the canvas when a larger clipboard image is pasted.
  • ScanDisk now runs when Windows starts up after an improper shutdown rather than during the boot sequence.
  • System Configuration Utility (MSCONFIG) has been updated to version 2.0, sporting a button for System Restore and adding in three new tabs for enabling/disabling static VxDs, as well as tabs for Environment and International. The tab to edit CONFIG.SYS has been removed due to the changes with how the operating system handles MS-DOS.
  • Windows Image Acquisition was introduced, allowing better communication for digital cameras and scanners.
  • Windows NetMeeting 3.01 was introduced.
  • Windows Movie Maker was first introduced, providing a default entry level video editor for users to record, convert, and edit videos.
  • Windows Media Player 7 was introduced.
  • Windows DVD Player was updated to support third-party software-based decoders without the need for a dedicated decoder card.
  • System Restore was first introduced. It has a bug where it cannot catalog and restore dates past 8 September 2001, which Microsoft has since released a bugfix for.[2][3]
  • System File Protection was introduced being renamed from its Windows 2000 counterpart as Windows File Protection.
  • On-Screen Keyboard from Windows 2000 was introduced.
  • DirectX 7.1 was introduced.
  • Windows Installer 1.2 was introduced.

System requirements[edit | edit source]

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.[4] Windows 95 is now required to upgrade to Windows Me.

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.

Hardware compatibility[edit | edit source]

Windows Me does not support having more than 1 GB of RAM due to a bug in the memory allocator.[5][6] Windows Me will often encounter system instability or crashing upon boot on these systems without additional fixes.

Reception[edit | edit source]

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 IO.SYS, COMMAND.COM, REGENV32.EXE, CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT will restore functionality to boot into DOS mode through the startup menu.[7]

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.

List of known builds[edit | edit source]

Developer Release[edit | edit source]

Beta 1[edit | edit source]

Beta 2[edit | edit source]

Beta 2 Refresh[edit | edit source]

Beta 3[edit | edit source]

Release Candidate 0[edit | edit source]

Release Candidate 1[edit | edit source]

Release Candidate 2[edit | edit source]

RTM[edit | edit source]

February 2004 Security Update[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Windows Me: Microsoft Releases New Operating System Built From the Ground Up for Home PC Users, Microsoft PressPass. 14 September 2000. Archived from the original on 17 October 2000.
  2. Checkpoints That You Create After September 8, 2001 Do Not Restore Your Computer, Microsoft Product Support Services. 16 October 2002.
  3. Checkpoints that you create after September 8, 2001 do not restore your computer, Microsoft Support. 26 October 2007.
  4. Minimum hardware requirements to install Windows Millennium, Microsoft Support. 28 September 2004. Archived from the original on 19 October 2004.
  5. Chen, Raymond. Windows 95 doesn’t boot with more than 1GB of RAM, The Old New Thing. 14 August 2003.
  6. Computer May Reboot Continuously with More Than 1.5 GB of RAM, Microsoft Support. 17 December 2004. Archived from the original on 16 November 2006.