Microsoft Windows 2000

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Windows 2000
Lettering "Windows (R)" (bold, sans serif), followed by the addition "2000" (normal printing), over the "W" lowercase lettering "Microsoft (R)" (similar to the design of "Windows 95/98"), in the left part of the picture (partially overlaid by the lettering) four stylized three-dimensional windows lying one above the other, the large window in the foreground with a waving colorful Windows logo in it
Windows 2000 Professional screenshot
developer Microsoft
License (s) Microsoft EULA ( Closed Source )
First publ. February 17, 2000
Current  version 5.0 Build 2195.6717 (SP 4) ( September 13, 2005 )
ancestry Windows NT
Architecture (s) x86
Others Development discontinued
Support discontinued on July 13, 2010

Windows 2000 , or W2K for short or Win 2k (from K ilo : “2k” = 2000), is an operating system from Microsoft . It is a further development of Windows NT 4.0 and the predecessor of Windows XP . The internal name at Microsoft is Windows NT  5.0.


Development as Windows NT 5.0

Planning for Windows NT 5.0, the original name of Windows 2000, began shortly after Windows NT 4.0 was released. With the new operating system, Microsoft wanted to reduce the administration costs for companies, which was to be done mainly by introducing a directory service called Active Directory . The operating system should be released in late 1997. At the beginning of 1997 Microsoft distributed a preliminary version of Active Directory to developers, at the same time the company announced that the completion of the operating system was postponed until 1998. This initial delay was initially welcomed because the press was hoping for a more stable operating system and many companies were already busy migrating to the predecessor Windows NT 4.0.

In subsequent Microsoft press stands, including at CeBIT in March 1997 and WinHEC in May 1997, the company explained the goals of the new operating system. Windows NT 5.0 should unite the Windows 9x and Windows NT lines and include functions such as plug and play and USB support. In addition to the previous 32-bit version, there should also be a 64-bit version of Windows for the Alpha processor from DEC and a processor from Intel with the code name Merced (later Intel Itanium ). Like NT 4.0, NT 5.0 was to appear in a workstation, server and enterprise edition. Microsoft licensed a multi-user technology from Citrix on May 12, 1997 , which, in addition to NT 4.0 (in the form of the Terminal Server Edition), was also to be part of NT 5.0.

At COMDEX in spring 1997, Microsoft announced a beta test in August / September and a release in early 1998, which roughly corresponded to the development period of Windows NT 4.0. The beta test date was later set to September 1997, which later turned out to be a big mistake as the developers were way behind schedule and unable to get a beta version of the operating system with the previously promised features in such a short time to finish. When the first beta version was finally released on September 20, 1997, it was considered unstable and immature; numerous new features of the operating system were not available in this previous version or were inoperable. The date for the second beta test, which was scheduled for December 15, 1997, had to be postponed to 1998. As a result, the planned publication date in early 1998 could not be kept and had to be postponed to the end of the year. Some magazines even wrote that completion was not to be expected until 1999. The second beta test was initially promised for April 1998, but this date also finally fell and so the company initially only published a preliminary version in March.

In February 1998 Microsoft confirmed that ambitious goals were to blame for the massive delays in the development process. The plans that were planned for Windows NT 5.0 included a TV function (which later became part of Windows 98 under the name WebTV ) and a project with the code name Chrome , which was to combine DirectX and HTML to create multimedia content on the Web provided, but ultimately never realized. Speculations that even the Active Directory promised from the start could fall victim to the development process, Microsoft clearly denied. The second beta test was set for June 1998, the end product should actually appear in early 1999. After further delays, the final date for the second beta test was August 18, 1998. According to Microsoft, this version contained all of the functions intended for the end product, but it was also considered unstable and immature. Because of this, Microsoft was planning a third beta test at an as yet undetermined point in time.

Continuation under the name Windows 2000

On October 27, 1998, the name Windows 2000 was officially established by Microsoft. This step was extremely controversial among the public, as Windows NT was previously the name for business operating systems, while the name Windows was associated with consumer operating systems without any addition. This decision should only turn out to be correct in retrospect, because many users viewed Windows 2000 as a better operating system than Windows NT after its release, although Windows 2000 is ultimately only a version of Windows NT. At the same time, the three versions of the operating system changed their names; they were now called Professional , Server, and Advanced Server . Unlike the previous server versions of Windows NT, the Windows 2000 Server would only support two instead of four processors, the Advanced Server only four instead of eight processors. The Datacenter Server , a version for large data centers that will support up to 16 processors and 64 gigabytes of RAM, was announced.

In January 1999, Microsoft stated that the final product would not appear until February 25, 2000; the third beta test should take place in April 1999. Numerous factors contributed to this renewed delay: the parallel hardware development and the resulting need to write drivers for this new hardware (such as the Pentium III processor), precautionary measures due to the year 2000 problem , the name change that had previously taken place and the parallel work on the 64-bit version. Because of this, rumors briefly arose about a version of the operating system that would lack certain functions, such as the upgrade of an existing Windows NT domain to Active Directory, but which should close the time gap until the final release. The third beta test, in which 650,000 beta testers took part, finally started on April 30, 1999. This version solved the problems that had occurred in previous beta tests and raised high hopes for the final version.

The Windows 2000 release candidate followed on July 1, 1999. Even if the operating system was even more stable than in the last beta test, there were still problems with Active Directory. On August 18, 1999, Microsoft decided that the server variants of Windows 2000 would support twice the number of processors - 4 for the server, 8 for the advanced server, and 32 for the data center server. Microsoft thus revised its earlier decision to reduce the number of supported processors compared to NT 4.0 and reacted to the expected appearance of systems with eight processors.

The second release candidate, which was originally supposed to follow on September 6th, finally appeared a few days later on September 15th. But this shouldn't be the last release candidate either; Microsoft released a third version on November 17th, and Windows 2000 finally reached Release to Manufacturing status on December 15th . Finally, on February 17, 2000, Windows 2000 Professional, Server and Advanced Server appeared. The start of Windows 2000 initially threatened to be overshadowed: according to an internal message from Microsoft, Windows 2000 should have 63,000 errors. However, it turned out that this was only the result of a program that automatically checked the Windows 2000 source code and therefore had nothing to do with the number of errors in the operating system. The Windows 2000 Datacenter Server was launched on September 26, 2000.

The mainstream support of Windows 2000 expired on June 30 of 2005. The Extended Support , security updates were released in the framework of which ended on July 13 of 2010.

64-bit version of Windows 2000

In parallel with the 32-bit version, a separate development team, led by David N. Cutler , worked on the 64-bit version of the operating system, which was developed for the Alpha processor in early 2000 and later, together with the release of the Itanium processor, for this too Architecture should appear. This version should not only support more than the 4 gigabytes of memory that can be addressed with 32-bit processors, but also contain some additional functions to make it more attractive for large companies. Compaq's announcement to end the development of alpha processors, however, not only brought the end for the 32-bit version, which was already in the release candidate phase, but also for the 64-bit version. However, since there were no functioning prototypes of the Itanium processor and there were no other 64-bit systems that could have been used for Windows 2000, the developers continued to work with Alpha computers for the time being.

In August 1999, Microsoft and Intel first demonstrated Windows 2000 on a prototype of an Itanium system. In June 2000 a previous version of the 64-bit version of Windows 2000 was released; this was given to the owners of the 5,000 Itanium prototypes delivered by then. After that, work on the 64-bit version of Windows 2000 ended; this was henceforth developed on the basis of its successor, Windows Whistler .

Service packs and updates

A total of four service packs were released for Windows 2000. These appeared for the first time in two versions. On the one hand, there is the web installation , which automatically checks the version of the operating system and only downloads the files that need to be updated. On the other hand, there is the network installation , which contains all files as before. As before, the service pack could also be ordered on CD.

A novelty of the service packs for Windows 2000 is the so-called slipstreaming . The service pack files can be integrated into the installation directory of Windows 2000 so that the installation of the service pack is no longer necessary when the operating system is reinstalled.

Service Pack 1

The first service pack for Windows 2000 was released on July 31, 2000. The service pack itself was largely limited to fixing the program errors that have been discovered since Windows 2000 appeared. A novelty that was only included on the Service Pack CD, but could also be downloaded separately from the Internet, was the Terminal Services Advanced Client , an extension of the Terminal Services of the Windows 2000 server. Included were an ActiveX client, with which a connection could also be established via the Internet using Internet Explorer, a snap-in for Terminal Services Management for the Microsoft Management Console , and a Windows Installer package with which the client program runs on Windows 2000 clients can be installed.

Service Pack 2

Service Pack 2 followed on May 16, 2001. Since this service pack removed the US export restrictions on cryptography, the service pack updated the encryption method to 128 bits, including systems outside the USA, which had previously been set to a maximum key length of 56 bits were limited.

With Service Pack 2, the operating system first supported the compatibility mode, which is intended to solve problems with applications that were written for Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 95 and that do not run correctly under Windows 2000 by default. Compatibility mode is disabled by default, but can be enabled if required. In addition, it is only installed on Windows 2000 Professional, although the compatibility mode for the server versions could be downloaded from the Internet.

Service Pack 3

On August 1, 2002, Microsoft released Service Pack 3. With this service pack, Windows 2000 received the Automatic Updates function , which automatically searches for available updates in the background and informs the user when new updates are available. In addition, the standard programs such as the web browser and e-mail program can be configured with Service Pack 3. The Windows Installer installed in Windows 2000 is updated to version 2.0 with this service pack.

With Service Pack 3, Windows 2000 supports 48-bit LBA and can therefore correctly handle hard disks that are larger than 137 GB. However, the support must be activated manually in the Windows registry. In addition, with Service Pack 3, computer clusters can be integrated into Active Directory for the first time.

Service Pack 4

The last service pack for Windows 2000 was released on June 26, 2003. With this service pack, Windows 2000 supported USB 2.0 controllers for the first time. In addition, Service Pack 4 introduced support for wireless networks based on the IEEE 802.11 standard, which was taken from the successor operating system Windows XP and functions in a similar way, but has some limitations compared to this. A program from the adapter manufacturer must be used to establish a connection, and only one wireless network adapter can be used at a time and not several at the same time.

In contrast to earlier versions, Service Pack 4 no longer contains updates to the Microsoft Virtual Machine , but these can be downloaded and installed manually. The Service Pack CD also contains updates for the Windows 2000 Resource Kit ; these concern the network diagnostic programs and the Sysprep program .

Subsequent updates

After Service Pack 4, Microsoft initially planned a Service Pack 5. In November 2004, however, Microsoft announced that there would be no more Service Pack 5, instead the latest updates should appear in the form of an update rollup package. This update rollup package was released on June 28, 2005, required Service Pack 4 to be installed, and contained all hotfixes that have been released since then. Because the update rollup package contained some bugs, an updated version was released on September 13, 2005.



Windows 2000 was released in four versions: Professional , Server , Advanced Server, and Datacenter Server . An embedded version as previously with Windows NT 4.0 was planned, but on April 24, 2000 Microsoft announced the end of development work on this version.

  • Windows 2000 Professional is the operating system for workstations (clients) and the successor to Windows NT 4.0 Workstation. Up to two processors and 4 GB of RAM can be used.
  • Windows 2000 Server is designed for use as a server . Up to four processors and 4 GB of RAM can be used.
  • Windows 2000 Advanced Server is designed for redundancy . Up to eight processors and 8 GB of RAM can be used and two cluster nodes can be formed.
  • Windows 2000 Datacenter Server is designed for particularly powerful hardware. Up to 32 processors and 64 GB RAM can be used and four cluster nodes can be formed.
  • Windows Powered is based on the Windows 2000 Advanced Server and offers additional functions for creating and configuring a network attached storage .



The user interface of Windows 2000 corresponds to that of the previously released Windows 98 ; it also benefits from some improvements made by Internet Explorer 5.0 included in the operating system . In addition, Windows 2000 contains only minor innovations; Windows 2000 supports personalized menus, which means that rarely used shortcuts in the start menu are automatically hidden. Like Windows 98 SE, Windows 2000 also enables Internet connection sharing .

Windows 2000 includes a new version of the NTFS file system . Among the new features in this release include about disk quotas with which the claimable by a user disk space can be specified, and the Encrypting File System , can be encrypted with the files on the hard disk. In addition, with this version, NTFS supports sparse files for the first time . Older versions of Windows are not compatible with the new version of NTFS, but Service Pack 4 for Windows NT 4.0 contains a patch that enables reading and writing of NTFS partitions created with Windows 2000. Windows 2000 also supports the FAT32 file system, which was already used in the consumer versions of Windows.

The system file check monitors important system files of the computer and replaces them automatically if they are damaged or deleted. Windows 2000 also includes a defragmentation program for the first time , a limited version of Executive Software's Diskeeper program . Unlike Windows NT 4.0, which implemented only certain components of DirectX , Windows 2000 offers full DirectX support.

Server functions

One of the biggest innovations in the server versions of Windows 2000 is Active Directory. This is an LDAP- based directory service in which all network resources such as users, groups and computers are centrally managed hierarchically. Active Directory uses dynamic DNS to address network resources. Unlike Windows NT 4.0, any server can become a domain controller without having to reinstall the operating system. With Active Directory comes Kerberos , a ticket-based system for authenticating people. Similar to Windows 98, Windows 2000 users can authenticate themselves using a smart card .

Windows 2000 supports group policies . This can be used to set authorizations for a computer, such as the right to call up the control panel. In addition, Windows 2000 introduces the distributed file system DFS , which enables resources located on several servers to be grouped under one name.

With Routing and RAS , Windows 2000 contains an extension of the RAS service included up to Windows NT 4.0 . This contains an improved and simplified user interface and enables Network Address Translation (NAT) for the first time , similar to the way it is already used for Internet connection sharing. For VPNs , Windows 2000 offers the L2TP protocol, which is based on IPsec and is more secure than the older PPTP protocol. In addition, there is no limit to 256 simultaneous connections; in principle, any number of RAS clients can connect to a Windows 2000 server. In a small network, Windows 2000 can use APIPA to automatically assign IP addresses without any administrative configuration.

The remote control functions, which were first introduced with the Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server Edition, are part of all server versions of Windows 2000. This also introduces a new version of the Remote Desktop Protocol , with which data from the server can be printed on the client's printer and a shared clipboard limited to text and files is enabled. The Terminal Services under Windows 2000 support two modes: the remote administration mode, which is only intended for the administration of the server and only allows up to two incoming connections, and the application server mode, which is used to set up a thin client environment and adjusts the resource distribution of the server accordingly . Clients that want to connect to a terminal server in application server mode require a license from a license server; this must be activated at Microsoft within 90 days , after which the system warns every time you log on remotely that the license has expired.


Windows 2000 has a modular structure. The HAL forms the lowest level . The actual operating system core and the subsystems are based on this. The HAL itself was developed independently of the hardware for earlier Windows NT versions. The operating system kernel takes care of the allocation of the main memory and the computing time. The various subsystems (Win32, OS2 and POSIX) are based on the core. The Win32 subsystem is of the greatest importance, since it also takes care of the window structure and processes the signals from the input devices. With Windows NT 4.0, Microsoft has taken parts of the GDI system into the kernel area.

Windows 2000 introduces two new kernel modules. On the one hand, there is the PnP manager , which implements Plug and Play and thus enables Windows 2000 to automatically detect and install connected hardware, similar to Windows 95 and Windows 98. On the other hand, there is the power manager , which implements the power-saving functions of the ACPI standard, which means that Windows 2000 can be switched to standby mode or hibernation for the first time . However, this requires new device drivers that are compatible with the Power Manager - if older device drivers, for example for Windows NT 4.0, are used, the power-saving functions are not available.

With Windows 2000 Microsoft introduces support for Physical Address Extension (PAE) in order to be able to address RAM over 4 GB. The Address Windowing Extensions offers programs through new programming interfaces, the ability to access these additional memory by the respective storage areas are mapped to the virtual memory of the program. Although this functionality is available in all versions of Windows 2000, only the Advanced Server and the Datacenter Server can use more than 4 GB of RAM.

The subsystems usually only work on ring  3 (privilege level). This protects the operating system kernel itself from crashes in the programs.

Windows 2000 supports the Windows Driver Model , with which it is possible, among other things, to write device drivers that are compatible with both Windows 2000 and Windows 98. The operating system contains numerous new device drivers, including for the first time in the NT series it supports USB devices .

System requirements

The system requirements for Windows 2000 Professional are a Pentium processor with 133 MHz, 64 MB RAM, a 2 GB hard disk with at least 650 MB free space and a CD-ROM drive. An update is possible from Windows NT Workstation 4.0 and 3.51 as well as from Windows 95 and 98. The system requirements for Windows 2000 Server and Advanced Server are similar, but they require 128 MB of RAM and 1 GB of free hard disk space. With Windows 2000 Server an existing installation of Windows NT Server 3.51 and 4.0 as well as the Terminal Server Edition can be updated, Windows 2000 Advanced Server also allows an update of Windows NT Server 4.0 Enterprise Edition.

Systems that are to be shipped with Windows 2000 Datacenter Server must support at least eight processors; if the system is to be used in a cluster environment, eight processors must actually be present. Otherwise, at least a Pentium III Xeon processor, 256 MB RAM, a 2 GB hard disk with at least 1 GB free space and a CD-ROM drive are required. Since the Datacenter Server should only be used on specialized hardware, an upgrade of an existing operating system is not planned.

If the computer is not able to start from a CD, Windows 2000 Professional contains a set of four start-up disks.

Service life and end of life

Microsoft supported Windows 2000 until July 13, 2010 with security-critical corrections (" Extended Support "). Many companies assumed that the system was still sufficient up to then. At the end of 2009, around 61,000 installations with Windows 2000 Server were in operation in Germany. After the end of Extended Support , Microsoft stopped automatic updates via Windows Update for Windows 2000, so a newly installed Windows 2000 can no longer be automatically updated.

Until the end of the support, the operating system was able to keep pace with current developments in all important application areas of office, internet and multimedia, if necessary with software components from other manufacturers. The last Microsoft Office that can be used under Windows 2000 is version 2003. supports the system up to version 3.3, LibreOffice up to version 3.6.7 (from July 10, 2013). The last Firefox versions are 12.0 and 10.0.12 esr . The latest supported Internet Explorer was 6, .NET is supported up to version 2.0.

In many cases, hardware that was sold until 2010 can be used without any problems. Device drivers for Windows 2000 are often identical to those for Windows XP. For many multimedia components sold with Windows XP drivers such as TV cards, cameras and scanners, however, there is usually no compatible driver. DirectX is supported up to version 9.0c. Some components (e.g. ASPI drivers) were not upgraded with service packs and have to be added to the drivers by third-party providers.

See also


Individual evidence

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Web links

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