Clean InstallHere is a new revised review of WinME, after a lot of complaints about the last one. Hexus.com would also like to point out that many of the comments correcting certain parts of our review were submitted by people running the beta version. We would like to stress that this review features on Windows Millennium full edition – not a beta or any other incarnation of the new OS.
In the blessed name of Hexus.com, I formatted C (yes – on my main PC because people were using my other 2) and installed Windows ME from scratch.
Installation was the same as installing the upgrade – the standard clicks, then the infamous “please sit back and relax while we install Windows onto your computer”. It took 37 minutes from start to finish, seeming to take longer on the plug and play devices than Win98 set-up ever did. Booting into WinME for the first time, I was yet again made to watch the 4 minute movie, which I am almost 100% sure is useless – it doesn’t explain what ME does, it doesn’t show off new features, it just has some coloured shapes flying about, some music and some people at their PCs. (As you may be able to tell, this short video has really wound me up). On the final beta version you could simply Alt-F4 out of this, but MS seem to have prevented this in the full copy (though whether they will re-enable it before September 14th is yet to be seen)
Boot up speed did increase with the clean install: my machine now boots up in 8 seconds, which isn’t bad considering it’s on a network. Installing hardware under Windows ME is very easy – not only is the list of compatible plug and pray twice as long as in Win98, but apparently there will be regular windows ME updates on the MS site, allowing set-up drivers for new products to be added to windows regularly (in fact, WinME automatically searches for updates every day, which is annoying: it tried it yesterday in the middle of a game of Q2 and lagged the whole machine). This feature can be disabled, although the procedure to disable it is by no means simple: methinks that Microshaft (a pet name – I’m actually a big fan of MS software) want to keep and eye on people.)
One think that I did notice is that disc access seems slightly faster, this is particularly noticeable when accessing CD drives. Both my standard CD-ROM drive and my CD-RW seemed to access cds far quicker than before, and transfers between cd and hdd seemed a lot quicker. Another small thing I noticed is that the small delay in tasks such as creating a new directory/file on the hdd is no longer apparent: although this will only apply to slower machines. File access is noticeably faster, estimated at about 10% by one of our readers, and Internet Explorer 5.5 does seem quicker on ftp sites.
The ‘Home Networking Wizard’ was particularly helpful – I’ve always set up my home network manually, but this wizard automatically detected my other 2 machines and set up the network for me, including modem sharing (bye bye Sygate – you’ve been great but your services are no longer required). You can also use ‘My Network Places’, formerly known as Network Neighbourhood’ to set up direct links to ftp sites, allowing drag n drop access to ftp.
Another very very handy feature (and I have received loads of emails asking me to include this) is the System Restore function. Using this, you can restore your system beck to a previous state. An example of this is a friend of mine who installed drivers for his WinTV card, which then conflicted with his external CD-RW (don’t ask). He used system restore, and he got back to windows exactly as it was prior to installing the drivers.
DOS is not available through the usual F8 at start-up, however, the command prompt is now located in Start/Programs/Accessories/. Use of a bootup disc (non-WinME) is required to enter DOS at boot up.