Windows NT=Windows NighTmare

Okay, so here it is. Now one day I thought, "Gee, my performance in Win98 is far below that of the computers that I am loading WinNT on at work, and those computers are much slower (P300's 64MB)." I decided to give NT a try on my computer.

To start out this essay, I suppose I should give you my system specs, so I don't have to clarify all of this later:

Abit BH6 Motherboard Celeron 300a(Running at 450)
128MB 7ns PC100 SDRAM
6.4 GB Western Digital HDD
Intel I740 8MB AGP Video Card
Diamond Monster II 12MB Voodoo2 Accelerator
Sound Blaster Live Value
Intel Pro10/100 NIC
Adaptec 15XX SCSI Controller

The first thing I did (Thankfully) was to do a backup. I didn't use the conventional method (tape); I threw another hard drive in (3.1Gb). Unfortunately, I had to uninstall enough stuff to get my main drive down to 3 gigs. Then, I used Norton Ghost to "Clone" the 6.4 onto the 3.1. Okay, Now I have a backup. I tested the other drive, and it booted fine, meaning that the ghost copy works. Now, for NT setup. What I had was an NT workstation 4.0 CD. I load the drivers for my CD drive using a DOS boot disk. Can't run setup! It says, "This program only runs from Microsoft Windows." Read the readme. Okay, I have to create install disks. (3 of them) I go through the process. . format, create. 15 minutes later, I'm ready to go. Pop in the first disk, reboot. Non system disk or disk error. Damn, okay, lets try the second. No go. Let's try the third. . YES!!!!

Okay, now I am loading the NT setup program (somehow, the disk creation made the disks backwards). Spend another 15 minutes swapping disks; load the CDROM drivers and stuff. Okay, time to format my hard drive. My original plan was to take advantage of the NTFS file system. But, Nope, 6.4 GB is too big for a bootable partition, so I have to slice my drive up(something I despise). So, I end up with a 1 GB FAT16 partition(so I could get onto it from a boot disk), and a 5.4 GB NTFS data partition. Time to start copying files.

Files copied okay, surprisingly. I rebooted the machine. It loads the NT shell, and I go through all of that registration information and OEM number stuff. Time to load the network configuration. This went fairly smoothly; except that I would have found it very confusing were I a beginner at the stuff. Found the NIC and everything. Time to copy some more files, and reboot.

Next reboot, comes up to the screen which reads"press ctrl alt delete to log on". That's always a good sign (I still don't understand why they made the key combination ctrl alt delete). Logged in. The video looks awful. 640X480 just doesn't shake it for me anymore. My first goal: Load video drivers. I load my drivers off of the CD, and reboot. Oh, they don't work! Well. . Let's try and do an autodetect within the NT control panel. Oh good, it found one! I installed that card, and rebooted. GAK! NT doesn't load. Okay, let's try the "VGA Mode". GAK! No such luck. No boot disks. Being quite angry at making such a stupid mistake, I started over.

Swapped disks, copied files, registration, okay, I'm up and running (an hour later). Roadrunner is working (surprisingly). I logged onto my video card's site, and find out that I have to load SP3 before I can install the drivers properly. Go to Microsoft, and download SP4. He he he, that'll show ‘em. Installed SP4, rebooted. Upon rebooting, my computer appeared to be hanging. Nothing was happening at all. I waited 5 minutes, and all of the sudden it came back to life and boom, everything's fine. Load the video drivers, reboot, wow! It works. I can get it back to 1024X768 24 bit color at 85Hz(anything less gives me a headache). Video's done, now for the sound card. Pop in the sound blaster driver disk, and load away. Reboot. GAK! Nothing. It was hanging just before it says, "press ctrl alt delete to log on". Try VGA mode, nothing. Okay, now I'm getting pissed. Go to the Sound Blaster site. Oh! The drivers have to be loaded before SP4. Third time's a charm, right?

Reload AGAIN. An hour later, I'm back in NT. Whew. First thing: Load sound drivers. They seemed to work okay after rebooting. Install SP4. Good. Install video drivers. No problems. Time for Voodoo2. I loaded the drivers. It looks all right. However, you should have seen the disappointment on my face when I go to the system information tab of my voodoo properties and see that there is no Direct3D installed. All that there is is "winglide 2.45". Damn! Then I remember that there is no DirectX5 in NT along with it not being plug and play. Okay, well, let's try some software out.

I went about loading my favorite game, Unreal. It ran sweet before. I opened it up. No 3dfx environment found. Go on the Internet for newer drivers, there are none. So, I reload the ones I have, and reboot. Hey, Unreal worked. Alright, yeah, the frame rates are up. Howabout the sound? It worked okay, being relative terms. I go to the advanced properties and turn on 4-channel support. CRASH! No more unreal. Unreal would not load at all after that. So, I uninstall it and reload it. It still doesn't work. I load it repeatedly. I found out that it works consistently, one out of ten tries. That is unacceptable. I gave up on this one.

Next: Quake II. Wow, this actually works! No 4-channel support, but the game runs great. The frame rates are better than usual. Okay, howabout Warcraft II. Loads fine, but no sound at all. Howabout Diablo. . works, but frame rates way down. Howabout Baldur's Gate. . . won't even work at all. Okay, now seeing that only one of my favorite games works, I am entirely frustrated. Let's try the business apps.

Loaded MS office, IE5, Winamp, and the Corel Draw Suite. Wow, these all work great! Load quicker, easier multitasking and all that. I was thoroughly delighted about how well these worked, until I looked over at all of my "dead" game icons. Being thoroughly beaten and destroyed, I whip out my backup and return to the inefficiency of Windows 98 and, surprisingly, this worked like a champ.

So, my overall opinion is that if you aren't playing games, and working (hence the name "workstation"), then NT is the way to go. If you are just a casual user, or a gamer, 95 or 98 is the choice for you. Did I ever mention that NT isn't plug and play? Nuff said. Here is a step by step breakdown of how to load NT, if you have a config similar to mine, and want to get it working without having to reload 3 times:

1) Generate install disks. You do this by running winnt.exe from the i386 subdirectory with the extension /ox.
2) Install NT shell
3) Install Sound Blaster Live drivers
4) Load SP4
5) Load video drivers
6) Load Voodoo2 drivers

That's about it!

  - Garry

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