Yesterday I needed to install a box with Microsoft Windows 2000 Server for some educational purposes.
While installing this Operating System, which is nearly ten years old and nearly out of support, I noticed some differences, compared to installing Windows Server 2008. These changed made me feel a bit nostalgic, but I’m glad installing has been made SO much simpler in the last years.
- Setup disks
The CD I’m using is Windows 2000 Server without any Service Packs. None, what so ever. This version of the Windows 2000 Server CD is not bootable. The BOOTDISK subfolder contains four *.img files that need to be written to floppies. Both a 16-bit tool (makeboot.exe) and a 32-bit tools (makebt32.exe) are available to do so.Afterwards it’s time to boot from floppy 1, change floppies 2 through 4 and after 10 minutes finally doing some real installing. Don’t forget to take floppy four out of the machine too: your box won’t but until you do…
- Text-based setup
Windows 2000 Server uses a text-based setup to go through the first few steps to install your server. WordPerfect under water screen galore! One of the screens, by the way, is the End User License Agreement (EULA). F8 is used to agree with it, which is a nice touch, but got canned somewhere along the way.
- FAT can be used for formatting
While useful for dual boot scenarios with FAT-based Windows NT installations, nowadays you don’t need to choose to format your system partition with FAT or NTFS. Where are my fast format options, anyway? This is taking up way more time than usual. Windows Server 2008 would’ve been installed by now.
- Files being copied
Oh well… at least I’m not staring at blue Microsoft progress bars… these are yellow. Oh wait… copying files?! Wait, that’s right. Up until Windows Vista, Windows was copied to disk file by file, making installation last for an hour.
- Graphics-based setup
When you get through the text-based piece of the setup you’re in round 2. The 256color-rich graphical user interface for installing Windows 2000 Server. At least the window can be dragged around, while waiting for progress, creating an excellent diversion.
- Product Keys
You can’t install Windows 2000 Server without a Product Key. Furthermore, you need to have a Product Key, corresponding with the media type. When installing Windows 2000 Server (or Windows 2000 Professional or even Windows XP Professional for that matter) using a Select CD, you need to have a Select Product Key. When using a trial CD, you need a trial Product Key. The same goes for Retail media: Only a Retail Product Key is accepted…
Again, this was fixed with Windows Vista. One media for all purposes. Don’t have a
Product Key at hand when installing? Don’t worry! You can install it without entering a Product Key and simply enter it later. Or not at all and enjoy Windows for 30 days.
- Information gathering
During installation Windows 2000 Server Setup asks a lot of questions. About the time and date, about the administrator password, about the registered owner, about the licensing mode, about networking settings and about its hostname. Not too bad in its own, but every time Setup needs information, installation stops until you’ve answered the question.
Windows Server 2008 Setup is much less hassle: Input some information at the start, walk away, return 20 minutes later, change the administrator password and input remaining information.
- Configure your Server wizard
While it was a good idea at the time Windows 2000 Server launched, the post-logon wizard comes to maturity in more recent versions of Windows Server. Windows Server 2008 R2 even goes beyond current local wizardry and allows to run the Server Manager remotely.
Windows 2000 Server brought a lot of new stuff. Active Directory was one of them.
When looking at Windows 2000 Server and its successors a couple of trends emerge:
- Installation is getting simpler.
Bootable CDs/DVDs replaced the bootable floppies of Windows NT and Windows 2000 Server. The choice not to cut up Windows Server 2008 to CDs was a good one in this perspective.
- Installation is getting faster.
Image-based setups, combined with information gathering at the beginning and after installation is done, speeds up installing Windows Server.
- Installation is getting easier.
A Product Key isn’t always available, so why ask for it explicitly during setup? I feel it’s a good thing the media / product key lock-in has been removed. It makes installing Windows so much easier.
- Installation is getting more secure.
The out of the box experience has improved dramatically in the last Windows versions. Since the programs, launched at startup, provide an overview of what the server is doing, it’s easier for novice administrators to find their way and manage the system more proactively.
- Formats wither fast
Ten years ago FAT and FAT32 were king. Today you have to try hard to install Windows on a FAT32 partition…
Despite the better installation experience, I’m left with one question:
Can we have F8 back to agree with the End User License Agreement?
For old times sake 😉