WINDOWS MILLENNIUM EDITION, or WINDOWS ME (marketed with the
pronunciation of the pronoun "me", but commonly pronounced as an
initialism , "M-E"), is a graphical operating system from Microsoft
released to manufacturing in June 2000, and launched in September
2000. It was the last operating system released in the Windows 9x
Windows ME was the successor to
Windows 98 and was targeted
specifically at home PC users. It included
Internet Explorer 5.5 ,
Windows Media Player 7, and the new
Windows Movie Maker software,
which provided basic video editing and was designed to be easy to use
for home users.
Microsoft also updated the graphical user interface,
shell features, and
Windows Explorer in
Windows ME with some of those
first introduced in
Windows 2000 , which had been released as a
business-oriented operating system seven months earlier. Windows ME
could be upgraded to
Internet Explorer 6 SP1 (but not to SP2 (SV1) or
Internet Explorer 7
Internet Explorer 7 ),
Outlook Express 6 SP1 and
Windows Media Player
.NET Framework up to and including version 2.0 is
supported; however, versions 2.0 SP1, 3.x, and greater are not. Office
XP was the last version of
Microsoft Office to be compatible with
Windows ME is a continuation of the
Windows 9x model, but with
restricted access to real mode
MS-DOS in order to decrease system boot
* 1 History
* 2 New and updated features
* 2.1 User interface
* 2.2 Hardware support improvements
* 2.3 Digital media
* 2.4 Networking technologies
* 2.5 System utilities
* 3 Removed features
* 3.2 Other components
* 4 Reception
* 5 Relation to other Windows releases
* 6 Product life cycle
* 7 System requirements
* 8 Name capitalization and pronunciation
* 9 References
* 10 External links
Microsoft stated that there would be no version of Windows
Windows 98 . In May 1999, however,
Windows 98 Second Edition, and then announced a new version of Windows
9x which was later revealed to be codenamed Millennium. In 2000, this
was released as Windows Millennium Edition (Windows ME).
At least three beta versions of
Windows ME were available during its
development phase. On September 24, 1999,
Microsoft announced that
Windows Millennium Beta 1 was released. Windows Millennium Beta 2 was
released on November 24, 1999, and added a couple of new features such
File Protection and Game Options Control Panel. Several
interim builds were released between Beta 1 and 2, and added features
such as automatic updates and personalized menus. Beta 3 was released
on April 11, 2000, and this version marked the first appearance of its
final version startup and shutdown sounds (derived from Windows 2000
), as the previous betas used
Windows 98 SE's startup and shutdown
sounds. The final version boot screen was first featured in Pre-Beta 3
build 2470. The general availability date of Windows Millennium
Edition was December 31, 2000.
Microsoft ended mainstream support for
Windows Millennium Edition on December 31, 2003, and extended support
ended on July 11, 2006.
Windows 98 and
Windows 98 SE Extended support
ended the same day.
Windows ME also contained the
Virtual Machine , which caused it as well as
Windows 98 and Windows 98
SE to be pulled from the
Microsoft Developer Network at the end of
2003. At launch time,
Microsoft announced a time-limited promotion
from September 2000–January 2001 which entitled
Windows 95 or
Windows 98 users to upgrade to
Windows ME for $59.95 instead of the
regular retail upgrade price of $109.
Windows ME was released to manufacturing on June 19,
Microsoft launched a campaign-initiative to promote Windows ME
in the U.S., which they dubbed the Meet Me Tour. A national partnered
promotional program featured Windows ME, OEMs and other partners in an
interactive multimedia attraction in 25 cities across the U.S. It was
launched on September 14, 2000.
Compared with other releases of Windows,
Windows ME had a short
shelf-life of just over a year.
Microsoft aimed to make ME the first
consumer Windows OS based on the NT kernel. However, this did not
Windows ME was rushed to the market after the Neptune
project was canceled.
Windows ME was often criticized for being buggy,
slow and unstable. Windows ME, along with
Windows 2000 , was soon
replaced by the NT-based
Windows XP , which was launched on August 24,
NEW AND UPDATED FEATURES
Windows ME featured the shell enhancements inherited from Windows
2000 such as personalized menus, customizable Windows Explorer
toolbars, auto-complete in
Windows Explorer address bar and Run box,
Windows 2000 advanced file type association features, displaying
comments in shortcuts as tooltips, extensible columns in Details view
(IColumnProvider interface), icon overlays, integrated search pane in
Windows Explorer, sort by name function for menus, Places bar in
common dialogs for Open and Save, cascading
Start menu special folders
, some Plus! 95 and Plus! 98 themes, and updated graphics. The
notification area in
Windows ME and later supported 16-bit high color
icons. The Multimedia control panel was also updated from Windows 98
SE. Taskbar and Start Menu options allowed disabling of the drag and
drop feature and could prevent moving or resizing the taskbar, which
was easier for new users.
HARDWARE SUPPORT IMPROVEMENTS
* Faster boot times:
Windows ME features numerous improvements for
improving cold boot time, pre and post-logon boot times and time
required for resuming from hibernation. Processing of real mode
AUTOEXEC.BAT , is bypassed at
startup and essential real mode drivers like
SMARTDRV.EXE are embedded into
IO.SYS . The registry is loaded only
once; for efficient loading, the registry is split into three files
instead of two (
USER.DAT ), with the new file
CLASSES.DAT containing the contents of the hive HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT
required for boot loaded initially. Plug and Play device enumeration
is more parallelized than in
Windows 98 SE. Boot time is not affected
due to unavailability of a DHCP server or other network components.
There are also optimizations to prevent boot slowdown due to
* USB Human Interface Device Class : Generic support for 5-button
mice is also included as standard and installing
reassigning the programmable buttons.
Windows Image Acquisition :
Windows ME introduced the Windows
Image Acquisition API for a standardized method of allowing Windows
applications to transparently and more easily communicate with image
acquisition devices, such as digital cameras and scanners . WIA
intended to improve the configuration and the user interface for
interacting with scanners and such devices, (which were previously
supported by the
TWAIN standard) and simplify writing device drivers
for developers. WIA also includes support for USB still image capture
device classes such as scanners and cameras through the Picture
Transfer Protocol .
* Improved power management and suspend/resume operations: The OEM
Windows ME supports OS-controlled ACPI S4 sleep state
(hibernation ) and other power management features without
* USB and
FireWire support improvements:
Windows ME is the only
operating system in the
Windows 9x series that includes generic
drivers for USB mass storage devices and USB printers. Support for
FireWire SBP-2 scanners and storage devices is also improved.
* The waveOut ,
DirectSound , and
DirectShow APIs support non-PCM
formats such as AC-3 or WMA over
Windows Movie Maker : This utility is based on
Windows Media technologies to provide
Microsoft Windows computer
systems with basic video capture and edit capabilities. It provides
users with the ability to capture, edit, and re-encode media content
Windows Media format, a tightly compressed format which
requires a minimal amount of storage space on the computer's hard
disk, when compared to many other media formats.
Windows Media Player 7: The new version of the Windows multimedia
player software introduces jukebox functionality featuring the Media
Library, support for CD burning, an integrated media encoder, and the
ability to transfer music directly to portable devices. Another new
feature is its radio tuner that can be used to search for and connect
to radio stations over the internet. Users can also customize the look
and feel of the user interface through interactive skins.
Windows DVD Player : The software
DVD player in
Windows ME is a
redesigned version of the one featured in
Windows 98 SE which, unlike
its predecessor, does not require a dedicated decoder card for DVD
playback. Instead, it supports software decoding through a third-party
* Image Preview: In Windows ME, images can be viewed by using the
Image Preview utility. It allows users to rotate an image, print or
zoom in/out an image. Image Preview supports images with .BMP, .DIB,
.EMF, .GIF, .JPEG, .PNG, .TIF and .WMF file formats. The My Pictures
folder also integrates previewing images.
Windows ME includes version 7.1 of the
DirectX API which
introduced DirectPlay Voice , and also offers several new games:
Internet Backgammon, Internet Checkers, Internet Hearts, Internet
Reversi, Internet Spades. It also includes Spider Solitaire from Plus!
98 and Pinball from Plus! for Windows 95. The final version of DirectX
Windows ME is
DirectX 9.0c, which was released on 7
* Net Crawler:
Windows ME introduced a net crawling feature which
automatically searches out and creates shortcuts to network shares and
printers in My Network Places. This can be controlled using the
Automatically search for network folders and printers option.
Shortcuts that are added by the net crawler but not detected again on
the network in a reasonable time period are aged out and deleted.
Windows ME includes the
Windows 2000 networking
stack and architecture which was known to be more reliable,
full-featured, stable and offered better performance. Support for
FireWire , improved infrared support, a network
diagnostic troubleshooter and a new Home Networking wizard are also
* The Home Networking Wizard is designed to help users to set up a
computer that is running
Windows ME for use on a small home network .
This includes setting up
Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) on a
Windows ME so the computer can share a connection to
the Internet with other computers on the home network.
Dial-up Networking component was updated in Windows ME, and
provides several enhancements while maintaining the desired features
of prior releases of the operating system. The user interface had been
reworked to provide all configurable parameters in one convenient
location. The user interface now included three new tabs: Networking,
Security and Dialing. To improve dial-up networking, Windows ME
includes built-in support for the Connection Manager dial-up client.
Using the Connection Manager Administration Kit (an optional
networking component in
Windows 2000 Server), network administrators
can pre-configure and deploy dial-up networking connections, by means
of a Connection Manager service profile, to Windows ME–based client
Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS) version 5.0 for
Windows ME was enhanced to provide programming interface parity with
NDIS version 5.0 in Windows 2000. This means that the programming
interfaces that the author of a network device driver uses are the
same for both of these Windows platforms.
Universal Plug and Play :
Windows ME introduced support for
Universal Plug and Play (UPnP).
Universal Plug and Play and NAT
traversal APIs can also be installed on
Windows 98 and
Windows 98 SE
by installing the
Windows XP Network Setup Wizard.
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System Restore :
Windows ME introduced the "System Restore"
logging and reversion system, which was meant to simplify
troubleshooting and solve problems. It was intended to work as a
rollback and recovery feature so that if the installation of an
application or a driver adversely affected the system, the user could
undo the installation and return the system to a previously working
state. It does this by monitoring changes to Windows system files and
the registry .
System Restore protects only the operating system
files, not documents, and therefore is not a substitute for a backup
File Protection : First introduced with
Windows 2000 (as
File Protection ), and expanding on the capabilities
introduced with System
File Checker in Windows 98, System File
Protection aimed to protect system files from modification and
corruption silently and automatically. When the file protection is in
effect, replacing or deleting a system file causes
Windows ME to
silently restore the original copy. The original is taken from a hard
drive backup folder (%WinDir%OptionsInstall) or from the Windows ME
installation CD, if the cached copy of files on the hard disk has been
deleted. If no installation CD is in the drive, a dialog box alerts
the user about the problem and requests that the CD be inserted.
File Protection is a different technology from System Restore
and should not be confused with the latter.
System Restore maintains a
broad set of changed files including added applications and user
configuration data stored repeatedly at specific points in time
restored by the user, whereas System
File Protection protects
operating system files with no user input.
* System Configuration Utility allows users to manually extract and
restore individual system files from the
Windows ME setup files. It
has also been updated with three new tabs called "Static VxDs",
"Environment" and "International". The Static VxDs tab allows users to
enable or disable static virtual device drivers to be loaded at
startup, the Environment tab allows users to enable or disable
environment variables , and the International tab allows users to set
international language keyboard layout settings that were formerly set
via the real mode
MS-DOS configuration files. A Cleanup button on the
Startup tab allows cleaning up invalid or deleted startup entries.
System Monitor has been updated with a Dial-Up Adapter section.
Users can now monitor items such as Connection Speeds, Bytes Received
or Transmitted / Second.
SCANDISK runs from within Windows upon an improper shutdown before
Windows Shell loads.
* Automatic Updates : The Automatic Updates utility automatically
downloads and installs critical updates from the
Windows Update Web
site with little user interaction. It is set up to check Windows
Update once every 24 hours by default. Users can choose to download
which update they want, although high-priority updates must be
downloaded and installed.
* Compressed Folders:
Windows ME includes support for ZIP files
through a shell extension known as Compressed Folders. Originally
introduced in the Plus! 98 pack for Windows 98, this feature allows
users to create, access and extract files from ZIP archives similar to
a regular folder in Windows. The user can also restrict access to
files with a password.
* A new
Help and Support program has also been added, replacing the
Help -based documentation in
Windows 2000 and Windows 98. The
Help and Support Center is entirely HTML-based and takes advantage of
a technology called Support Automation Framework (SAF), that can show
support information from the internet, allows collecting data for
troubleshooting via WMI and scripting and for third parties to plug
Help and Support. Several other support tools also
shipped with Windows ME.
Windows ME also includes
Internet Explorer 5.5 which supports a
new Print Preview feature. It also shipped with the MSN Messenger
* On-Screen Keyboard : Originally introduced with Windows 2000, a
program called On-Screen Keyboard has been added, which makes it
possible to input characters using the mouse instead of the keyboard.
This feature is useful for computers that use a tablet as the primary
pointing device or for accessibility purposes.
* The Mouse Control Panel incorporates
IntelliPoint features, namely
ClickLock (selecting or dragging without continuously holding down the
mouse button), hiding the pointer while typing and showing it by
* The cursor (system caret) can be set to a thicker width.
* Increased Active
Accessibility support in utilities such as
Calculator and Magnifier .
REAL MODE DOS
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Windows ME restricted support for real mode
MS-DOS . As a result,
Windows ME disregards
COMMAND.COM and WIN.COM
and directly executes
VMM32.VXD . In its default configuration the
system would neither boot into an
MS-DOS command prompt nor exit to
DOS from Windows; real mode drivers such as
ANSI.SYS could not be
loaded and older applications that require real mode could not be run.
Microsoft argued that the change improved the speed and reliability of
the boot process.
In Windows ME, the
AUTOEXEC.BAT files are used only to
set global environment variables . The two files (if present) are
scanned for settings relating to the environment variables, and any
other commands present are removed into a
Windows registry key (see
below). The two files thus contain only settings and preferences which
configure the "global environment" for the computer during the boot
phase or when starting a new virtual
DOS machine (VDM).
To specify or edit other startup values (which, in Windows 98, would
be present in the
AUTOEXEC.BAT file) the user must edit the following
Windows registry key:
For troubleshooting and crash recovery, both the
Windows ME CD-ROM
Windows ME startup disk (a user-createable floppy disk, known
as the Emergency Boot Disk (EBD)) allowed booting into real mode
It is possible to restore real mode
DOS functionality through various
unofficial means. Additionally, a registry setting exists that
re-enables the "Restart in
MS-DOS mode" option in the shutdown dialog
Unlike past versions of Windows,
Windows ME was aimed primarily at
home users, and removed certain enterprise -oriented features. Several
features of its predecessors did not work or were officially
Microsoft on Windows ME, including Automated
Active Directory client services, System Policy
Editor, Personal Web Server and ASP . These features were supported
on its predecessors,
Windows 98 and Windows 95. A Resource Kit
publication, targeted towards system administrators, was never
published for Windows ME.
Other features removed or never updated to work with Windows ME
Microsoft Fax ,
DriveSpace , as well as the
FAT32 conversion tool.
Windows Explorer commands were removed in Windows ME.
Windows ME was heavily criticized by some users, mainly for stability
PC World article dubbed
Windows ME the "Mistake Edition" and
placed it 4th in their "Worst Tech Products of All Time" feature.
"Shortly after ME appeared in late 2000," the article states, "users
reported problems installing it, getting it to run, getting it to work
with other hardware or software, and getting it to stop running."
System Restore also suffered from a bug in the date-stamping
functionality that could cause
System Restore to date-stamp snapshots
that were taken after 8 September 2001 incorrectly. This could prevent
System Restore from locating these snapshots and cause the system
restore process to fail.
Microsoft released an update to fix this
One of the most common errors was on startup and shutdown, when the
computer would display a blue screen of death instead of starting up
or shutting down.
Byron Hinson and Julien Jay writing for ActiveWin took an
appreciative look on the operating system. On the removal of real mode
DOS , they had noted "The removal of
DOS has clearly made a difference
in Windows Me in terms of stability (far less Blue Screens of Death
are seen now) and booting speed has greatly increased." In a
recommendation of the operating system upgrade for users of Windows 95
and 98, they had stated "If Windows Me isn't a revolutionary OS it's
Microsoft has focused its efforts to make it more
user-friendly, stable and packed full of multimedia options. The
result is great and the enhancements added are really worth the wait."
RELATION TO OTHER WINDOWS RELEASES
Main article: History of
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Windows ME was complemented by NT -based
Windows 2000 , which was
aimed at professional users. Both operating systems were succeeded by
Windows XP with their features unified. All
Windows ME support,
including security updates and security related hotfixes, was
terminated on July 11, 2006. Support for
Windows 98 was also
terminated on that date.
Many third-party applications written for earlier editions of
Microsoft Windows, especially older games, run under
Windows ME but
not under Windows 2000. This fact has become less relevant with the
sharp decline in popularity of
Windows ME after the release of Windows
XP, which features a compatibility mode which allows many of these
older applications to run.
If an installation CD-ROM from the
Windows 2000 family is inserted
into the drive of a computer running Windows ME, the user is prompted
to upgrade to
Windows 2000 because
Windows ME has an older version
number than Windows 2000. While this is not technically so (Windows ME
was released several months after Windows 2000),
Windows ME is in fact
derived from the older, monolithic
MS-DOS codebase (Windows 4.x) while
Windows 2000 is the first of the NT 5.0 family, making the latter an
Windows 2000 cannot, however, be upgraded to Windows ME. If an
installation CD-ROM from
Windows ME is inserted while running Windows
2000, the user will receive an error message that Setup cannot run
from within Windows 2000. The user is prompted to shut down Windows
2000, restart the computer using Windows 95, 98, or 98 SE, or start
MS-DOS and then run Setup from the
MS-DOS command prompt.
Windows XP, which is NT-based, became the successor to Windows ME. It
also closed the gap between consumer Windows and Windows NT. In
addition, no service packs for
Windows ME were released.
Windows 2000 from the NT family,
Windows ME was the last
version of Windows that lacked product activation .
Windows ME was the last Windows release to be based on the Windows 9x
(monolithic ) kernel and MS-DOS.
PRODUCT LIFE CYCLE
Microsoft planned to stop its support for
Windows ME on December 31,
2004. However, in order to give customers more time to migrate to
newer Windows versions, particularly in developing or emerging
Microsoft decided to maintain support until July 11, 2006.
Windows 98 also ended on this date.
support for these products because the company considers them obsolete
and running these products can expose users to security risks.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS FOR RUNNING WINDOWS ME
Pentium , 150
Pentium II , 300
* CD or DVD drive
3.5" inch floppy drive
* Video capture device for
Windows Movie Maker
* Sound card
* Speakers or headphones
Windows Movie Maker
56.6 Kbps modem or faster with current Internet connection
Mouse or compatible pointing device
Windows ME is not designed to handle more than 512 MB of RAM by
default. Systems with larger RAM pools may lose stability; however,
depending on the hardware and software configuration, it is sometimes
possible to manually tweak the installation to continue working with
somewhat larger amounts of RAM as well. Systems with 1.5 GB of RAM
or more may reboot continuously during startup.
NAME CAPITALIZATION AND PRONUNCIATION
Both the "Windows Me" and "Windows ME" spellings are used when
referring to the operating system, with "Windows Me" being used by
Microsoft and PCWorld.
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symptoms: You may be unable to open an
MS-DOS session (or command
prompt) while Windows is running. Attempts to do so may generate the
following error message: "There is not enough memory available to run
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