Throwback Thursday: Windows Millennium Edition

Posted on February 16, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows with 50 Comments

Throwback Thursday: Windows Millennium Edition

Windows Millennium Edition—or, Windows Me—is unfairly criticized for being an unexpected and unwanted extension of the Windows 9x family of products. But this innovative OS ushered in a number of technologies that we take for granted today.

To make my case, I’ve uploaded a number of videos to YouTube today. These videos were made by Microsoft and given to the press in the summer of 2000, right before Windows Me shipped. Note below each of the innovations that debuted in this unfairly maligned Windows version.

Setup

Accessibility. Windows Me Setup included exactly the same kind of accessibility-based wizard with speech capabilities that Microsoft is now championing again in Windows 10 Creators Update. Oops! They’re doing it again.

Windows Welcome. The original Out of Box Experience (OOBE) included a number of features, like a goofy mouse tutorial, simplified user interface, and new PC maker customization capabilities.

PC Health

System File Protection. Windows Me was the first Windows version to include SFP. Before this, you could completely bork Windows by deleting a key system file, triggering a complete reinstall.

Auto Update. Windows Me was the first version of Windows to include auto updating functionality so that Windows would always be kept up-to-date. Sound familiar?

System Restore. Windows Me was the first Windows version to let you “go back in time” and restore your PC to an earlier version when everything was still working properly.

Help and Support. Windows Me was the first version of Windows to include a consolidated and easy to use Help interface.

Support for new technologies

(Then) modern hardware. Windows Me provided improved support for USB, Firewire (IEEE-1394), and Universal Plug ‘n Play (UPnP) technologies.

Fast boot. Windows Me was the first version of Windows to support fast-booting, with 20-second boots and 15-second resumes on modern hardware.

Hibernate. Windows Me was the first version of Windows to support Hibernate, an alternative to sleep and a full shut down.

Internet features

Internet Explorer. OK, Windows Me wasn’t the first version of Windows to include IE, but it did include an improved version of this browser.

Outlook Express. Ditto, not the first, but an improved experience for email and newsgroups.

MSN Messenger. Windows Me included MSN Messenger-based chat capabilties.

NetMeeting. Long before there was Skype, Windows Me provided video teleconferencing capabilities thanks to NetMeeting.

Games. The games in Windows Me were, for the first time, Internet-ready, meaning you could play against opponents online, and chat while doing so.

Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player 7. Windows Me was the first version of Windows to include an all-in-one media player application that supported Internet radio, a Media Guide, portable device support, and UI customizations related to the skin of the player and visualizations. It also supported CD audio importing with album art.

Photos

Digital camera connectivity. Windows Me was the first Windows version to provide in-box drivers for digital cameras and scanners. It also provided a wizard for downloading photos from those cameras and scanners.

Rich photo views in Windows Explorer. For the first time, you could view photos as thumbnails instead of icons in Explorer.

Photo sharing. Windows Me was the first version of Windows to support photo sharing, in this case by providing a slideshow maker.

Movie Maker

Movie Maker. Windows Me was the first version of Windows to include a movie editor, called Windows Movie Maker. You could share your edited videos to the web, or via email.

Home networking

Internet connection sharing. Windows Me was the first version of Windows to support Internet connection sharing, for both dial-up networks and broadband.

Home networking support. Windows Me was the first version of Windows to provide a Home Networking Wizard to help users create their own home networks, where they could share files and printers. (It was also the first to let you connect to the Internet during Setup.)

 

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