Help and Support includes an automated support option that enables users to ask for help through the Internet, which is a nice improvement, as anyone that's waited on hold for Product Support can tell you. First-time Windows Me users will be treated to a new Windows Welcome application that gets them up to speed on all the new features. And Windows Me includes some of the more questionable improvements from Windows , such as the Personalized Smart menu and Favorites menu in Internet Explorer. To keep the computer-challenged from putzing around the system too much, Microsoft has also added a number of "soft barriers" in Explorer to protect key locations such as Program Files and the Windows folder from prying eyes Figure.
And the messages you see in dialog boxes have all been rewritten to be more clear and helpful. Ah, progress. Overall, Windows Me is far more reliable than its predecessors Windows 95 and Windows 98 , though it can't, of course, approach the reliability of Windows Integrated digital media and gaming features As a consumer operating system, Windows Me embraces a number of features that aren't as elegantly exposed in Windows So the company worked to ensure that Windows Me was the ultimate digital media and gaming OS around.
All in all, they were largely successful. WIA is a set of technologies that makes it possible to acquire images from scanners and digital cameras using a straightforward and integrated user interface. So Windows Me can automatically detect when a WIA device is attached to the system Figure and launch the Scanner and Camera Wizard Figure to help users manage and import their photos and pictures Figure.
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I haven't been able to test this feature with a digital camera yet, but it works wonderfully with a scanner Figure. I particularly like the option that allows you to choose actions for certain events. WIA allows me to choose which program I'd like to execute when the button is pressed; by default, the Scanner and Camera Wizard is launched, but I could change this to PhotoDraw or whatever if I wanted Figure.
To organize, view, and share acquired images, Windows Me includes some subtle enhancements. First up is My Pictures, a special shell folder that debuted with Windows ; it's the new default save location for images in Windows Figure.
In Windows Me, the My Pictures folder supports a new slideshow feature that lets users create a screensaver-like slideshow of the images stored within. And My Pictures features thumbnail views of each image, previews, and rotation capabilities. To share images with other users, the new WIA allows you to ship an image off in an email attachment directly from a WIA-compatible device, without ever saving it locally first.
For digital music lovers, the recent MP3 craze hasn't passed by Microsoft unnoticed, so Windows Me includes a number of features that make it easy to work with this format, as well as Microsoft's audio and video formats. Indeed, WMP7 is a weak spot in Windows Me, though its pretty obvious that this initial attempt will be improved upon. WMP7 sports a complex user interface with numerous functions, including an online media guide that will pop-up if you're connected to the Internet Figure , a "now playing" mode that displays the current media file along with some interesting "visualizations" if you're playing audio only Figure , a CD audio mode for playing music CDs Figure , a media library for organizing your digital music collection into playlists and other sub-categories Figure , a radio tuner for listening to live Internet radio stations Figure , a way to interface with a variety of portable music devices Figure , and a skin chooser Figure , where you can choose to change the user interface of the program, but only when it's in compact mode full mode cannot be changed.
Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me) Review
Welcome to the club. For Windows 98 and early Windows Me betas. As an all-encompassing media player, recorder, and organizer, WMP7 is non-intuitive, resource hungry, and ugly. And worst of all, you can't uninstall it or choose to not install it when you set up Windows Me. It's this kind of thing that landed Microsoft in court, and it's disheartening to see it happening again in Windows Me. On the other hand, I'm somewhat resigned to the fact that WMP7 will probably get better over time.
And while I'm no fan of its user interface or clumsy way of doing things, it seems to work well, assuming you've got boatloads of RAM. Don't even attempt to run this beast on a 64MB, or smaller, system. Microsoft has also included a way to manipulate digital movies with Windows Movie Maker, another questionable addition Figure. Windows Movie Maker allows you to transfer videotape onto the computer and store it digitally.
And because of compression, it is possible to store over 20 hours of video per gigabyte of hard drive space, which is nice. Windows Movie Maker will automatically visually index every video you store on your system and provide full resolution playback. It also has the capability to edit movies, using fades, background music, sound effects, and more Figure. I wasn't able to test Windows Movie Maker extensively because I don't have a hardware video capture device. But I did play around with some video files, adding sounds and editing frames. And while I appreciate the capabilities, I have to wonder about this product's inclusion in an operating system in an age where this company has been found guilty of illegal product bundling.
I'm sure that third party makers of video editing software aren't that excited about this particular feature. Microsoft had originally intended to ship a bizarre feature in Windows Me that would have allowed properly written games to unload parts of themselves from the hard drive when other, more often-used games needed the space. To say that game makers weren't enthralled with the idea is an understatement of epic proportions.
Needless to say, this feature was scrapped early in the beta process. Of the new gaming features that did make it into Windows Me, only DirectPlay Voice is of any interest. DirectPlay Voice allows gamers to chat with each other during game play using headset microphones connected to their soundcards Figure. Of course, this feature requires games that are specifically written for DirectPlay Voice, which is exposed as "Voice Chat" in Windows Me. And in order for players to use voice chat, the both players must be running Windows Me. I wasn't able to test this feature because of its exclusive nature at this time, but it will be interesting to see how game makers support it.
And, of course, it's a good idea to add this capability directly to the operating system. Certainly, I'm looking forward to verbally goading over fallen enemies in DOOM and Unreal Tournament 2 or whatever they're called. And it will be fun to enable this feature for team play as well. Easier networking As we move forward into an interconnected age of pervasive Internet access and smart devices, it's becoming more important to shield end users from the complexities of the underlying network.
And with more and more users adding second PCs to their homes and networking them together, it makes sense that Microsoft would want to make this process simpler. Windows Me introduces a number of consumer-oriented networking features that offer significant advantages over Windows The HNW is available directly from My Network Places Figure , and it helps the user share folders, printers or an Internet connection, using a simple, easy-to-understand interface. For advanced users, however, the old Network applet is still available in Control Panel, though many will be disappointed to learn that this is virtually identical to the applet used in Windows SE.
The HNW can optionally create a Home Networking Setup disk that can be used to enable Home Networking on Windows 95 and 98 computers that might be available on your home network, a nice touch Figure. One might have assumed that Microsoft would simply require Windows Me on all systems for this feature to work.
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Like USB, however, support for these devices will explode once the capability is built into the core OS. Overall, the home networking features in Windows Me make this release more compelling for consumers that wish to network PCs together and share a single Internet connection between these PCs. If you're not a networking guru, Windows Me will make life easier. It incorporates the Desktop Update UI from Windows 98, most of the tweaks and enhancements from Windows , and adds its own little updates that make this the most elegant version of Explorer yet. But Windows Me is also the end of the line, so while it's a comfortable update for any Windows user, it's also the last version of Explorer we're likely to see.
In the next consumer Windows, due next year, Microsoft will debut a new, high-customizable user interface that's based on XML and other Web technologies. Whether the default interface resembles today's Windows remains to be seen. The ugly side of Windows Me Like anything from Microsoft, every improvement seems to bring with it some problem, and Windows Me is no exception.
Windows Me also includes the lackluster Internet Explorer 5. And while this feature is certainly laudable, one gets the idea that it could have easily been added to IE 5. But in its zeal to grab the attention of potential users, Microsoft has opted for the loftier IE 5. But IE 5. It's too bad that Microsoft couldn't have tied these improvements to a product that offered more for the end user.
On a curious side note, Windows Me doesn't even include the final version of IE 5. I have my suspicions about meeting release dates and whatnot, but IE 5.
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