Deciding on a Windows 2000 Network Upgrade or a New Installation

It's time to get to work with Windows 2000. Among your initial decisions: upgrade installation or a new installation?

An upgrade installation attempts to retain some Registry settings, users and group settings, domain membership, remote access configurations, hardware settings, Start menu layout, user profiles, and more. But an upgrade installation can also retain problems, too. If a device driver or a Registry setting is bad, an upgrade installation may simply retain the problem instead of correcting it.

After you install Windows 2000, you're pretty much stuck with it. No uninstall commands or utilities exist. To return to a previous operating system or computer configuration, you need to manually delete Windows 2000 and restore the previous data and operating system from backups.

Before you rush to perform an upgrade installation, keep in mind that only paths from specific operating systems to specific versions of Windows 2000 are actually supported as upgrades. These paths are as follows:

  • Windows 95, 98, and 98 SE can be upgraded to Windows 2000 Professional.
  • Windows NT 3.51 Workstation can be upgraded to Windows 2000 Professional.
  • Windows NT 4.0 Workstation can be upgraded to Windows 2000 Professional.
  • Windows NT 3.51 Server can be upgraded to Windows 2000 Server or Windows 2000 Advanced Server.
  • Windows NT 4.0 Server can be upgraded to Windows 2000 Server or Windows 2000 Advanced Server.
  • Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server can be upgraded to Windows 2000 Server or Windows 2000 Advanced Server.
  • Windows NT 4.0 Enterprise Server can be upgraded to Windows 2000 Advanced Server or Windows 2000 Datacenter Server.

No other upgrade paths are possible. Don't even try. Just give it up and perform a new installation.

If your upgrade path is supported, don't rush that installation just yet. You face yet another bend in the road — flavors. Windows 2000 comes in many flavors. Only some of these flavors support upgrades. Here's the scoop:

  • Retail: The full product version, capable of performing new installations and upgrades.
  • Upgrade: Used only for upgrading and requires proof of previous Microsoft operating system (9x or NT).
  • OEM: A retail version without packaging used by computer retailers to bundle the operating system with a system.
  • Select: A retail version sold to large companies, which consists of a few CDs and lots of user licenses.
  • NFR: A retail version restricted to MS employees, the press, and retailers. This version should not be sold (Not For Resale) and is limited to ten inbound connections.
  • Evaluation: A time-limited retail version.
  • MSDN: A retail version included in the MSDN yearly subscription service.

After you're sure that you have the right flavor, you can then proceed to the installation.

Windows 2000 can cohabitate with other operating systems, even other versions of itself on the same computer. Just make sure that you install each operating system on its own distinct partition. Installing the other operating system first (such as Windows 9x) and then adding Windows 2000 second is usually a good idea. Or if all the operating systems are NT or 2000, the installation order doesn't really matter. Just make sure that you have plenty of hard drive space!

If you install Windows 9x and Windows 2000 on the same system, you need to keep your data used by both operating systems on a partition formatted with the FAT file system. That's because Windows 9x can't access partitions formatted with the NTFS file system. If you're placing Windows NT and Windows 2000 on the same computer, make sure that you install Service Pack 4 (SP4) or later onto Windows NT. You can go to the Microsoft site to download the latest Windows NT 4 service pack.

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