Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition review: Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good

Average User Rating

2.5 stars 1 user review
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The Good Streamlined interface; faster boot times; offers easier tech support; includes cool multimedia tools and brand-new IE 5.5.

The Bad Runs Windows applications slower than Windows 98; the most attractive new tools, such as the Windows Media Player, are already available for free download elsewhere.

The Bottom Line Millennium is a great face-lift for Windows 98, but it's not a necessary upgrade. If you have technical difficulties or work with pictures or music, try the new OS. But if you're happy with Windows 98, stick with it.

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The latest edition of Windows has a brand-new name, but it's not the whole new bag of tricks you might expect. Microsoft's Windows Millennium Edition (a.k.a. Windows Me) is the company's third update to Windows 98. In a few months, you'll actually be able to buy a copy, and in a few months, you probably won't be able to buy a new home PC without it. But despite the brouhaha, it turns out that Millennium only adds up to about Windows 98 3/4--it offers the same customizable user profiles as Windows 95 and only a few upgrades from Windows 98. And, despite promises of greater speed and stability, our tests found that Windows Millennium was, in some cases, actually slower than its predecessor.The latest edition of Windows has a brand-new name, but it's not the whole new bag of tricks you might expect. Microsoft's Windows Millennium Edition (a.k.a. Windows Me) is the company's third update to Windows 98. In a few months, you'll actually be able to buy a copy, and in a few months, you probably won't be able to buy a new home PC without it. But despite the brouhaha, it turns out that Millennium only adds up to about Windows 98 3/4--it offers the same customizable user profiles as Windows 95 and only a few upgrades from Windows 98. And, despite promises of greater speed and stability, our tests found that Windows Millennium was, in some cases, actually slower than its predecessor.

In fact, anyone who needs under-the-hood business features (robust IT-level security, for example) should lean towards Windows 2000 instead, especially since Microsoft plans to use the same pricing structure as Windows 98 SE's. Businesses won't even get price breaks on multiple copies of Millennium.

If you run Windows at home, on the other hand, the decision to upgrade is a toss-up. You'll be able to download cool new Millennium tools such as the new Media Player and IE 5.5 for free without the upgrade, and Me's speedier boot-up time won't even work unless your entire PC supports it (which it undoubtedly won't, unless you buy Millennium preinstalled). But for home Windows buffs who like the idea of better technical help, improved sound and video features, and other small but neat enhancements, Windows Me might sound mighty tempting.

So, before you clear about 300MB from your hard disk to make room and shell out $109 for the upgrade (or $209 for the full version), consider our review of Millennium's new tricks.

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