ARCHIVED: How do I choose between Windows 98/Me and Windows NT Workstation/2000 Professional?
Note: UITS recommends that you use a current version of Windows on computers connected to the Indiana University network; see Recommended Windows operating systems at IU.
When choosing an operating system, you need to ask yourself questions about what you need from your system: What tasks do I need my system to perform? Will I be using this system mostly in or out of a work environment? How important is security?
This document compares the primary features of the two main Windows OS "families": Windows 98/Me and the more business-oriented Windows NT Workstation/2000 Professional. By determining which factors are important to you, you can make an informed decision when choosing your operating system.
Note: All references to Windows 98 refer to Windows 98 SE (Second Edition).
|Windows 98, Windows Me||Windows NT Workstation, Windows 2000|
|Primary focus||Home/individual use: word processing, simple graphics layout, web
browsing, low-traffic serving of web pages
Me: Multimedia for the home user; includes programs for manipulating photo, sound, and video files
|Business use, particularly for those on a network; also a superior platform for programmers, engineers, statisticians, high-end scientific users, and those requiring extensive security|
|Recommended hardware requirements1||
98: 66+ MHz processor, 24 megabytes
(MB) RAM, 175-225MB free hard drive space (may vary)
Me: 150+ MHz processor, 32MB RAM, 320MB free hard drive space2
NT: Pentium processor, 32MB RAM, 110MB free hard
2000 Professional: 133+ MHz processor, 64MB RAM, 2 gigabyte (GB) hard drive (minimum of 650MB free space)
|Technical expertise required||Does not require extensive technical knowledge to use effectively||Greater technical knowledge sometimes required, particularly when configuring system security|
|Software bundled||Me: Windows Media Player 7, Windows Movie Maker, Outlook Express 5.5, NetMeeting 3.1||2000 Professional: Active Directory, Outlook Express 5.5|
|Plug & Play support||Yes||NT: No, 2000 Professional: Yes|
|Overall stability||Improved from Windows 95, though still crash-prone. Systems with Me pre-installed seem to be more stable than Me upgrades from 98.||Both NT and 2000 are far superior in this area to the 9x family; 2000 Professional in particular is perhaps the most stable Windows OS to date.|
|Security||Minimal, as these platforms are intended for the home user||Superior to 9x/Me; has many security features, including ability to place restrictions on file/folder access on a user-by-user basis. Login and password required for access to the system. Nevertheless, NT and 2000 Professional do have their vulnerabilities. 2000 Professional also supports an encrypted file system.|
|Software support/compatibility||Compatible with most applications, including DOS applications. Some programs may not work after upgrading to Windows Me.||2000 Professional: Many DOS, 16-bit Windows, and Windows 95 applications (and some games) will not run.|
|Hardware support/compatibility||98: Support for USB, AGP, DVD, IEEE 1394, multiple monitors. Me: Systems with older hardware may have problems upgrading to Windows Me.||2000 Professional: Support for AGP, USB, DVD, IEEE 1394. Does not support EIDE drives, 5 1/4-inch floppies, and many older ISA bus devices (i.e., scanners). Can add new hardware without rebooting.|
|Networking||Peer to peer. 98: Improved Dial-up networking; includes support for things like Virtual Private Networking (VPN). Me: Simplified home networking||Client-server. Support for 15 networking protocols.
2000 Professional: Can change network settings without rebooting
|Internet features||98/Me: Broadband connection support, Internet tools, online gaming support; allows sharing of a single Internet connection across several computers||2000 Professional: Support for XML and DHTML.|
|Other features||Windows Update; Disk Defragmenter utility arranges frequently used programs so they load more quickly. 98: Enhanced MIDI options, Active Desktop (web-based user interface)||2000 Professional: Enables users to go mobile, with support for offline files and folders. Performs well as a notebook operating system.|
1These recommendations are issued by Microsoft.
2If you will be using Microsoft Movie Maker, Microsoft's recommendation changes to: Pentium II 300+ MHz processor, 64MB RAM, 2GB free space, and a 56K modem.
Last modified on June 28, 2012.