My First Install Of WinME

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[ The 'Puter ] [ Install Method ] [ The Install ] [ Problems ]
[ First Thoughts ] [ System File Protection ] [ Conclusion ]

Well it's September 16th, and Windows ME (WinME) has been released!  On this page I'll go over my first install of WinME and tell you my first impressions of this latest version of Win9x.  If you want to read about what Winmag has to say, here's a great review.

The testbed

Since my first install was done on the road I decided to use my work laptop.  It is a Compaq Armada 1585DMT.  It's a P55C 150MMX with 80 megs of ram, it has a 1 meg Cirrus Logic video card, ESS 1868 sound card, Matshita CD-ROM, Compaq internal modem, on a Opti-Firestar motherboard.

As you can see, this is a rather older laptop.  I felt that this would be a great testbed since it's rather under-powered.

Install method

I used method one from my install page using a bootdisk downloaded from my downloads page.

Once I had the hard drive properly formatted and all the CAB files copied to the CABS folder I made, I rebooted the laptop and started setup as well as my stopwatch.

The install

The install took 1 hour and 23 minutes to finish.  Of course, the options you choose and the speed of your 'puter will cause the time to vary.

Since I used an OEM full version of WinME there was no check to see if I qualified.

I chose the custom option during the install.  I always recommend choosing the custom option, that way you can pick and choose what you want and don't want to have installed.

The install process itself went very smoothly, with no problems whatever.  During the install, the 'puter was rebooted three times.  One nice feature, is that if you're away from the 'puter when it needs to be rebooted, it will count down and reboot itself, so you don't lose any time.

As requested during the install I did make the startup disk.  While you should make this disk, you can get around it if you want to.  When it prompts you to put a floppy in the drive you will see an OK and a cancel button, just click the cancel button to skip making the startup disk.

When the install got to the copying stage it estimated 35 minutes remaining... actually it was 55 minutes that it took to finish.


When the install finished I was looking at my desktop in 16 glorious colors at 640X480 :-)  Believe it or not, WinME did NOT supply a video driver for my plain Jane 1 meg Cirrus Logic video card!

I had to use the Win95 video driver from Compaq (typical laptop, that's the only one I could find.)  It works fine but I thought it was rather silly since Cirrus Logic video cards have been around for so long.

Once that was fixed, I then went to the device manager to see if there were any other problems.

There were no problems, but there was one unknown device.  Since I didn't see a modem, I assumed that was the culprit.  I downloaded the modem driver from Compaq (simply an INF file), and in the properties screen for the unknown device I chose to re-install the driver, I then pointed it at the INF file and all was well.

The only other thing I noticed was that DMA mode was unchecked for both the CD-ROM and the hard drive.  By using DMA mode you'll use less CPU while using these devices.  Some CD-ROMs hate DMA mode, so if you turn it on and have problems in games, try turning it back off.

First thoughts

Here are my first thoughts about WinME.  I noticed a very small performance hit compared to Win95B (which is what this laptop came with.)  To me, it's not enough of a speed hit to justify going back to Win95B.

The custom install I did took 556.3 meg of disk space!  I didn't install everything either!  On Win95B, the same install would take about 275 megs of space.

Booting up and shutting down seems about the same speed as Win98SE.  With a new 'puter, it *should* be faster booting up.

One thing that really ticks me off is that you're not given any choice as far as installing Media Player 7.0!  I think it's a piece of bloated software, it runs badly on this laptop, and I'll never use it on this 'puter, yet I can't un-install the damn thing!

Same goes for the Movie Maker, I haven't used it yet, but I never will on this laptop yet I can't un-install it!

Internet Explorer 5.5 works very well.  I know that many people have had problems with IE 5.5 but on a WinME install it works flawlessly!  I've had 14 instances of IE running at the same time with no problem except a video slow-down :-)

The one feature that I'm very impressed with is the "System File Protection".  This beats the "System File Checker" from Win98 all to hell!  It works in the background, and doesn't ask you any questions that you don't know the answer to either :-)

From the WinME help file

********* quote***********

System File Protection (SFP) is a feature implemented in Windows that ensures files critical to system operation are not replaced by older versions or versions not approved by Microsoft.

This means that even applications developed by Microsoft cannot replace "protected" files with older versions. It also means that a third-party product can replace system files, but only if the file is shipped with a catalog signed by Microsoft that references the newer file.

This information is also available in the Microsoft Knowledge Base. If you would like to view this information online, see Knowledge Base article number Q253571, " Description of System File Protector."

****** end quote *****

One really neat feature for all you geeks is the ability to see what files have been changed by SFP.  There is a log file in the C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\SFP folder called SPFLOG.TXT, and it shows what has been changed since the first install of WinME.


Windows has come a long way from the days where half of the installs I did of Win95 failed for some reason or another.  While I'm not done testing (killing, crashing, etc...), I feel very comfortable recommending this new version to people.

I have high hopes the SFP (System File Protection) will go a long way towards getting rid of DLL hell!


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Last Revised: 10/27/2000