Unfortunately there are still some poor fools (yes, fools) out there are still using Windows 2000 at home. In the corporate environment I can understand why people use Win2k, but at home there’s just no excuse. You should be using Windows 7 or Linux at home. But I digress.

Officially, Microsoft will be ending support for Windows 2000 on July 13, 2010. To be honest I’m shocked they’ve supported it this long.

I decided to run a few tests to see if Win2k is still usable with the modern internet.

Before I give you my results, I have to say I got a good dose of nostalgia by running Win2k. Even though I was using it in a contained environment via Virtualbox, it was interesting using The Windows That Once Was.

For those of you out there who have never used Windows 2000 Professional, think of it as XP without the fluff. It’s an all-business OS and boring to the bone. No theme support whatsoever. No ClearType support either. Sure, there’s a font smoothing option but that only affects bold fonts or font sizes above 12pt in most instances. It will only support IE up to version 6, Windows Media Player up to version 9, and MS Office up to 2003 (version 11).

Were I to describe the Win2k user experience, the best word to use is terse. Or maybe sober. Maybe both.

Most software titles still work – for now – in Win2k. Here’s a list of some software I tested that works with no problems at all even in their latest versions.

  • Firefox 3.6.2
  • Opera 10.51
  • Adobe Flash Player 10 (works if you follow these instructions)
  • AIM 7
  • OpenOffice 3.2
  • 7-Zip
  • Launchy 2.1.2
  • WinAMP 5.572

However it’s what doesn’t work that is cause for concern.

Nothing in the Windows Live suite nor Yahoo! Messenger 10 will work in Win2k at all.

You miss out on a lot by not being able to run Windows Live. WL Messenger is the most used IM on the planet. WL Mail is better than Outlook Express 6 (in more ways than I can count). Live Writer is the best blogging tool there is and even Mac users agree with that one.

When you can’t run Y! Messenger, you’re forced to use all Y! tools in the browser. This means no more Y! Mail notifier, and for messenger you’re forced to use an alternative client that cuts out a ton of Y! Messenger features.

Newer versions of MS Office not supported in Win2k whatsoever.

Microsoft Office 2007 requires XP or greater. The last version, MS Office 2003 (sometimes known as Office 11), is the last version that will run on Win2k.

Office 2010 is right around the corner. When released, that means MSO 2003 will be two versions behind.

Newer versions of Internet Explorer haven’t been supported for years.

This is the biggest deal of them all. Win2k only supports IE up to version 6. IE9 is going to be released very soon. When that happens, that means Win2k’s IE will be three versions behind. It’s also very well known that IE6 is a bad browser because it has more security holes than Swiss cheese.

How antiquated is IE6? It was released in August 2001, almost nine years ago. That’s dinosaur era as far as software is concerned.

How bad is IE6 to use? Would you want to use a browser that has over 20 unpatched vulnerabilities? I wouldn’t. And neither should you.

Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft have all been telling you the same thing for years: STOP USING IE6. And they mean it, too. Google in particular very recently dropped support for IE6 on several of their web products.

Can you use Windows 2000 now in 2010?

Unfortunately the answer to this question is yes, but only for one good reason – you can run the latest Firefox or Opera with the current Adobe Flash Player in Win2k. That software allows you to browse safely and access all the content out there, which is what matters most.

Diehard Win2k users officially get a get-out-of-jail free card because of this – for now. But your days are numbered. 🙂