Software Review: Windows Me

Software Review - Windows Me

by J.A. Hitchcock

As it appeared in the November/December 2000 issue of Link-UP magazine

Having learned by experience with my review of Windows 2000, I installed Windows Me on my laptop this time around. Before I could install, a popup window warned me that because Norton Internet Security 2000 was on my laptop, I had to remove it before installing Windows Me. Iíd read about this in the instructions Microsoft sent me, so I was aware of it, but was still very disappointed. Because of the work I do with an online victim organization, I have to have NIS2000 on my computer - people tend to try to ďtestĒ my computer when Iím online. Iíve had too many people probing and trying to hack in. So I was not pleased with this. I then found out that if you have BlackICE Defender (another personal security/firewall program), you have to also uninstall them. The one good thing is that Jammer is compatible and works fine (this is a third program I have on my laptop - yes, I run all three at once. Iím serious when I say people probe my computer). Interestingly enough, Norton Systemworks is fine, so my anti-virus and other programs included with that work fine.

Installation was very easy, although it took about a half hour total for all the files to install. I did backup my Windows 98 files, just in case something went wacky. Once installed, I found that Window Me loads a lot faster than previous versions of Windows. I performed a Windows Update, which took me to the web site so that I had all the latest files for Windows Me. I found I was missing two ďcriticalĒ files to do with security. Iíd highly recommend doing this before playing around with Windows Me.

On the first restart, a video plays that shows all the new features of Windows ME. The graphics are pretty nifty and much better with this version of Windows, hardly any ďjerkiness.Ē

Now that I had Windows Me installed, I decided to try to reinstall NIS2000. I got a warning popup window that claimed my computer would not restart properly, but I installed it anyway. The computer restarted fine. Itís only when NIS2000 tried to do a Live Update and go online that problems happened. I got two Windows errors, then the computer restarted itself. I canceled the Live Update and tried to go online direct to the NIS2000 web site and download the updates from there. No go. When I started up Netscape Communicator, it tried to connect to my ISP, then my laptop froze.

I had to uninstall NIS2000 completely. When I did restart Windows Me, I got online fine this time and went to the NIS2000 site and found that Norton was not planning an update for Windows Me. Instead they were offering an upgrade to NIS2001, which isnít even out yet. And if you had NIS2000, you still had to pay $29.95 for the upgrade if you purchased it prior to July 18, 2000. If you purchased it after that date, you need to contact Norton for a refund. I donít find this fair or agreeable, especially in light of all the problems with cybercrime. Microsoft mentioned in its PR package that reviewers tend to have security firewalls on their personal computers, while the average computer user does not. I think theyíd be surprised to know people are a bit more savvy than they assume.

I checked out the BlackICE Defender site (this is the consumer version of their corporate firewall protection program NetworkICE) and there was no mention on the site anywhere (that I could find) about not being compatible with Windows Me or upgrades/patches. Like NIS2000, I had to uninstall it, too.

I did find Windows Me has a security program of sorts. You can adjust the settings for cookies, javascript applications, activeX controls, restricted or approved web sites and more, but it doesnít provide the protection that the other programs Iíve used offer. All this aside, if youíre really not concerned that your computer is protected online, then Windows Me is perfect for you. Other programs work fine with it. I donít know why itís just the security/firewall programs. For those who are concerned, either upgrade to the latest version of your security/firewall program before installing Windows Me or stick with Windows 98.

I do have to admit, Windows Me is as good as it claims to be - itís fast, the graphics are better, itís slick and it works well. The biggest plus is System Restore. Crashes are supposed to be a thing of the past with Windows Me. Mine hasnít crashed yet, so I havenít had to try this feature out, but System Restore will take you through the steps to restore your computer if something goes horribly wrong (such as a youngster banging away on the keyboard, someone uninstalling important files, etc). Your computer system is ďsavedĒ at whatís called a Restore Point, which is done automatically or you can create your own. It seems like a great feature and a sorely needed one.

Would I recommend it? For the average Windows user, a definite YES. Youíll be quite pleased with the speed, looks and ease of use. Microsoft has almost gotten it right this time. Next time letís hope thereís better software compatibility for *all* users.



J.A. Hitchcock is a regular contributor to Compute Me. Visit her web site at jahitchcock.com.

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