Information Technology mentor Glenn Weadock responds:
This is the question on the minds of millions of Windows users since Windows 2000Professional debuted February 17. Windows 2000 is the "workstation" version ofMicrosoft's latest operating system family. It's an upgrade for Windows 95, 98, and NTWorkstation 4.0 users. The price (which varies depending on rebates but is at least $149) is pretty high for an operating system upgrade in this day of $500 PCs, so it's natural to askif the product is worth buying.

If you have Windows 95 or 98, I see no reason to rush out and upgrade right away as long as:

  • All your programs are working reliably.
  • You don't spend a ton of time on the Internet.
  • You are not running Windows 2000 Server as your network operating system (if you have a network).

Upgrading to Windows 2000 probably makes more sense if you have annoying reliability problems, spend a lot of time on the Net, or run Windows 2000 Server on your network. Why? For one, Windows 2000 is demonstrably more reliable than Windows 95/98. Also, when Windows 2000 and Windows 2000 Server run together, you get various benefits that you don't get otherwise. Finally, Windows 2000 shouldprovide you with a snappier Web surfing experience than you get with Windows 95/98.

If you decide to upgrade to Windows 2000, check Microsoft's Windows HCL (Hardware Compatibility List, which you can find at to be sure your hardware is supported by Windows 2000. Try to check out all the specific components, not just the PC itself. A PC may appear on the HCL, but one or more internal or external devices -- such as a modem -- may not. Also, make sure your hardware is fast enough and big enough to run this bloated software product! You should have a Pentium II class processor and 96 to 128 megabytes of RAM to ensure a happy experience, despite the much lower published minimum requirements.

Finally, if you're buying one or more new PCs, look for machines that come with Windows 2000 preloaded. That's normally the cheapest way to obtain this operating system, and you also have the vendor's guarantee in this situation that all the hardware works with Windows 2000. Just make sure you get a Windows 2000 CD-ROM in the bargain; some computer resellers don't include the CD in the package. Thatleaves you high and dry if your hard drive heads south for the winter.