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What is diff. between Win98/2000/XP

Last response: in Windows 2000/NT
March 30, 2003 2:31:26 AM

Which is best? Why? What are the differences?

More about : diff win98 2000

March 30, 2003 3:50:20 AM

Win9x (95,98,ME) are 32 bit code with mostly 16 bit drivers. They are not intended for heavy or continuous use. There are memory management and user security issues that make them mostly useless for anything but homeowner or 1 machine office use. On the plus side it is very easy to configure and maintain.

Win2000 is built on the NT kernel which is far more configurable and stable. It's almost entirely 32bit code making it faster and smoother running. It also supports multiple users and remote logins. This makes it far more suitable for networking and server applications. Win2000 has very limited support for DOS programs that use the 32 bit "DOS Extender" and most games using it won't run. It also does not allow software to access the hardware directly, which prevents some video intensive game software from running.

XP is win2000 with a whole bunch of eye candy tossed in. It also has much improved support for DOS software using the DOS Extender. Unfortunately there is a penalty in both speed and stability to be paid for the extra stuff they tacked on.

Both XP and 2K use NTFS which is a far superior file system, giving you access to advanced security, built in file compression and huge drive support. Unlike win98's FAT32, NTFS is tweakable and can be made into a very fast and efficient file system.

Both XP and 2k are highly configurable OSs with built in security, multi-user and multi-OS features that take some time to get set up the way you want them. As with all NT based OSs be ready to spend some time learning about the guts of the system. They come out of the box in a mostly useless configuration and some tweaking and adjusting is always needed to get them running stable before you can trust them.

Which is best? That depends on your system and your applications.

If you are on a small system with limited memory or a smallish hard disk, or if you only use the system occasionally win98 might be your best bet. Depending on installed software, it will run quite comfortably in 64m of ram and 100mb of hard disk.

If you have a midrange (or better) system and gaming is not a priority win2000 is always your best choice. It's lean and mean and rock stable without any silly "features" that just get in the way. Win2k supports all win9x software, most DOS software and even some OS2 programs, so you have a huge application base you can draw upon.

If you have a robust system, like eyecandy and want to play a lot of games, XP is the way to go. You will probably end up turning off the most annoying features --zip file support and cd-burning-- in favour of far superior 3rd party software. If speed is important you will also end up turning off most of the eye-candy. XP is a bit more restrictive about applications, OS2 support has been dropped and some win9x software needs patches or won't work at all. But, XP is a good operating system that can be made very stable.

So... as with all OSs... it depends on what ya got and what you wanna do with it.

--->It ain't better if it don't work<---
March 30, 2003 11:32:42 AM

A few other differences and extra benefits of using Win2K/XP vs Win9x, to go along with Teq's excellent post:

1.) Win2K/XP are true 32-bit operating systems. This means that the operating systems fully support multi-threading, multi-tasking and multi-processing. Many well-written programs support multi-threading.

2.) Win2K/XP support what is called Process Separation. This means that an errant program will not bring down the entire system if a problem occurs, unlike Win9x.

3.) Win2K/XP support Side-by-Side Components, which allows for multiple versions of .dlls with the same name to exist for separate applications. With the addition of Window File Protection, I think this is a major accomplishment, as Win9x cannot offer protection for the core system files in this manner, resulting in the familiar "DLL Hell" when programs are installed that overwrite or replace those same files.

4.) Win2K/XP have a Protected Kernel Mode Architecture, which prevents Kernel Mode Operation of code such as drivers, thereby improving system reliability. The Kernel is smaller, and more efficient at delegating tasks.

5.) Win2K/XP have far better memory and system resource management than Win9x. This in itself may be the single best reason to upgrade. Win9x memory management is, to put it simply ... lousy. Memory & system resources used by applications in a 16-bit environment often cannot be reclaimed without rebooting the system -- in a best case scenario. In the worst, this will cause the system to become highly unstable or crash.

Extensive testing has shown that as physical memory is added to a Win9x system, the performance benefits decrease exponentially. And there is a problem with Win95/98/ME after adding more 512MB of RAM. The Vcache, which contains the memory addresses for the disk-caching driver, can increase to 800MB. This bug causes conflicts with other hardware, such as the AGP port ... not to mention using up all the memory in the system. A user must manually change the settings in the system.ini file, or the system will display error messages, refuse to boot, or even crash.

Win9x has a priority issue with memory ... it uses the virtual memory first, and the physical memory second. With a Win9x-managed swap file, hard disk paging can occur frequently when a memory-intensive applications are used. Again, in order to manage these events, a user must create a custom swap file, and manually adjust the system.ini file.

It has been shown that Win9x has little use for additional blocks of RAM beyond 64MB.

None of these issues occur in Win2K or WinXP. These operating systems can work efficiently with up to 4GB of RAM.

6.) Win2K/XP have a vastly improved TCP/IP stack, which results in higher download speeds. I have observed a 20% increase in speeds with my ADSL modem with WinXP vs Win9x, with a similar driver set.

7.) Win2K/XP support more efficient file systems, such as NTFS, (as explained by Teq.)

FAT32 has some limitations. It cannot support files over 4GB in size, which is something to be considered if you wish to work with large video files. FAT32 cluster sizes can be much larger than in NTFS, which increases the hard disk slack space. NTFS is a journaling file system, and FAT32 is not. NTFS writes a log of changes being made, which offers a significant benefit in cases where a system loses power, experiences an unexpected reset, or crashes. NTFS can quickly return the disk to a consistent state without running CHKDSK (the replacement for SCANDISK) ... FAT systems cannot do this. Furthermore, NTFS performs well when reading, writing, and mounting large volume sizes. FAT32 performance is reduced for volumes larger than 32GB in two areas:

A.) Boot time with FAT32 is increased because of the time required to read all of the FAT structure. This must be done to calculate the amount of free space when the volume is mounted.
B.) Read/write performance with FAT32 is affected because the file system must determine the free space on the disk through the small views of the massive FAT structure. This leads to inefficiencies in file allocation.

Win9x can only use FAT16 or FAT32 file systems.

To summarize, use of Win2K or XP, even on a home desktop, means better speed and stability for programs, better memory management, true multi-tasking, easier recovery if the system crashes, no more problems with over-written .dlls, protection for the system core files, efficient use of larger amounts of memory, better file allocation, and support for larger hard drives and partitions with less wasted free space. They are faster, far more stable operating systems.

There are a couple of caveats. One, your computer hardware and BIOS need to be new enough and powerful enough to support the minimum system requirements, with WinXP demanding the most physical memory in order to run optimally. Both operating system must be "tweaked" to achieve the best performance (with WinXP having the most default "bloat"), and you must install well-written drivers for the hardware. But afterwards, it is much more difficult to crash the system, and reboots become unnecessary in the majority of situations, especially in regards to installing software applications. It is completely feasible to imagine running your computer for weeks or months on end without rebooting, unless you manually update a driver and/or attach a new hardware component.

That's my 0.15 input.


<font color=red>First Rig:</font color=red> <A HREF="" target="_new"><font color=green>Toejam31's Devastating Dalek Destroyer</font color=green></A>
<font color=red>Second Rig:</font color=red> <A HREF="" target="_new"><font color=green>Toey's Dynamite DDR Duron</font color=green></A>

<A HREF="" target="_new"><b><font color=purple></font color=purple></b></A> - <i><font color=orange>A better place to be</font color=orange></i>. :wink:
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March 30, 2003 4:27:57 PM

Thanks a lot for your input guys. I have one more question. I don't plan on doing a lot of gaming on my new machine but I will be doing some (Microsoft Flight Sim 2002/2004, Need for Speed Porsche Unleashed, and The Sims, Splinter Cell, etc.) Will I have problems with these? I about 90% sure that I'm getting Windows 2000 Pro on an AMD 2600+/512mb-1.024gb DDR400/ATI Radeon 9700/9800 Pro. Also, I'll be using Data Becker Complete Home Designer ver. 5.0. It says it supports Windows 2000, but do you think I'll have any problems? It can be moderately 3D intensive at times.
March 30, 2003 5:42:56 PM

You shouldn't have any problems in win2k unless you are running older version DOS games.

--->It ain't better if it don't work<---
March 30, 2003 8:33:27 PM

You may find this site to be helpful:

<A HREF="" target="_new">NT Compatible - Games</A>

If you have a game, and you are not sure if the application is supported by the operating system, search for the website of the game manufacturer to look for the system requirements, and for any updates and/or patches. This is something that should be done anyway, before actually running any PC game you install, regardless of the OS. Install, patch ... and then play.

If you are running five or more games, then yes, IMHO ... you are doing enough gaming to be considered more than "some", despite your modest self-description. And if that is the case, WinXP may be better for you than Win2K. Win2K was originally intended as a corporate solution ... not a gaming platform, while WinXP is the newer upgrade with compatibility updates aimed more specifically at the home market, instead of just for the workplace ... so gaming compatibility with WinXP is generally much better as a result.


<font color=red>First Rig:</font color=red> <A HREF="" target="_new"><font color=green>Toejam31's Devastating Dalek Destroyer</font color=green></A>
<font color=red>Second Rig:</font color=red> <A HREF="" target="_new"><font color=green>Toey's Dynamite DDR Duron</font color=green></A>

<A HREF="" target="_new"><b><font color=purple></font color=purple></b></A> - <i><font color=orange>A better place to be</font color=orange></i>. :wink:
March 31, 2003 1:47:51 AM

Okay; I seem to have a minor problem. I'm buying my machine from iBuyPower. If I choose Windows 2000 Pro I get it for free, because I already own it. But if I want XP then I have to pay for it, and that's an $89 upgrade. You say perhaps I'm not such a light gamer, what should I do? That extra $89 would push me over my projected $1020 price limit, providing I keep all the features I want. Also, if I do get XP, is there a way to get rid of the eye candy that bogs down the system? How do I do that? Thanks SO much for all your help everyone.
March 31, 2003 3:20:13 AM

I'd say your best bet is to do just a little more homework before finalizing your purchase. Check your software for compatibility before you spend your money. Check your games and other software choices to see if they are win2k compatible. Most are either inherently compatible or have patches for win2k users. This information can usually be had at the game maker's websites... Why spend 90 bucks if you don't need to?

If you do end up on XP, getting rid of XP's eye candy is fairly easy... there are settings in the various property sheets that can be turned off. Most are in your System sheet under Performance and in your display properties. Things like menu fades, transparent windows and window animations really soak up CPU horsepower and do nothing but look fancy, so they should be the first to go. You can also go to the microsoft site and get the Tweak UI powertoy which gives you access to a couple of hundred other usefull tweaks.

--->It ain't better if it don't work<---
March 31, 2003 4:33:52 AM

It's your budget, and your choice, but I'd say that paying $89.00 for WinXP is a pretty good deal, considering that the Pro retail version can easily cost $150.00 or more. Personally, I wouldn't back myself into a corner over that much money while still in the process of making the purchasing decisions. But that's just my opinion.

FYI: If you currently own Win2K, and are considering the upgrade ... don't purchase the Home Edition, or you'll actually lose functionality. And if the CD in question from iBuyPower is an upgrade disk, instead of a full version, you'll <i>have</i> to buy the Professional Edition, as Win2K can't be upgraded with a Home Edition CD.

<A HREF=",5,17,1,0501,0..." target="_new">XP Professional vs. 2000 Professional</A>

<A HREF="" target="_new">Lab Report: Windows XP Easier and Faster to Use</A>

<A HREF="" target="_new">Win 2000 vs. Win XP</A>

There are many tweaks for WinXP on the Net ... this page is typical:

<A HREF="" target="_new">Kelly's XP Corner</A>

Getting rid of the eye candy is extremely easy. So easy, in fact, that I wouldn't even allow this aspect to affect my decision. This is a minor issue, and once you had a chance to actually inspect the OS, it would take you only a very few minutes to see this for yourself.

<A HREF=",3973,10914,00.asp" target="_new">Eye Candy Tweaking</A>


<font color=red>First Rig:</font color=red> <A HREF="" target="_new"><font color=green>Toejam31's Devastating Dalek Destroyer</font color=green></A>
<font color=red>Second Rig:</font color=red> <A HREF="" target="_new"><font color=green>Toey's Dynamite DDR Duron</font color=green></A>

<A HREF="" target="_new"><b><font color=purple></font color=purple></b></A> - <i><font color=orange>A better place to be</font color=orange></i>. :wink:
March 31, 2003 12:13:29 PM

The previous 2 posts should be combined into a sticky FAQ

<i>It's always the one thing you never suspected.</i>
April 4, 2003 9:45:23 PM

I run Windows 2000 pro, and after SP3 i've never had a problem with any game, and the 9500/9700 pro runs BETTER with 2000 pro vs XP

<font color=blue>Let's see, 500 posts a day, each day, for 30 days, and I will have more posts than Crashman!</font color=blue>
April 5, 2003 4:45:07 AM

There is a trick you can use to make it even more compatible...

Click START then RUN and enter the following command:

<b>regsvr32 %systemroot%\apppatch\slayerui.dll</b>

and click OK.

Now right click any shortcut icon that leads to a program. You will find a new "Compatibility" tab has been added which will allow you to fudge even the most sticky of programs into working.

--->It ain't better if it don't work<---
April 7, 2003 1:00:33 AM

Wow. All of you guys are really smart and have been super helpful. I've since decided to go with Windows 2000. Not only is it the better choice for me, it is free. Thanks again.