In the Forums...
Posted: June 21, 2000
Written By: Keith "Farrel" McClellan
Now that Windows 2000 has been out for a few months, it is time to once again look the gaming abilities of the OS and check out some new methods for playing finicky games on the OS. In many ways, it is still a chore to get a game to run well on this operating system, however, I have now been made aware of a program that should make some of the trickery required to get some games running easier. If you aren't comfortable playing around with your computer a bit to get it to do what you want though, perhaps you should continue to stick with Win9x. I won't be supporting questions about this guide and it's methods - every game is different, and I don't own every game.
There are several benefits to gaming on Windows 2000 as opposed to Win9x. First of all, in many operations, Win2k is up to 20% faster than good old Win9x. That kind of background speed increase is ideal for gaming, because it means that the OS takes up fewer cycles of the CPU - which means more cycles for the game. Also, because of Win2k's superior stability over Win9x and how it handles programs, a game bug that normally would have crashed a computer running Win9x will now only cause the game to crash. Also, Windows 2000 is much better suited to be run as a server, so those of you with fat pipes or a home network can benefit from having a better gaming server.
Well, of course, you have to mess around with some games to get them to run -- and some games won't run at all. Also, because the platform is so new, some of the drivers you are going to get are going to be slower than their Win9x cousins. Also, the operating system is just more complicated than Win9x -- so things that used to be 'easy' to fix may prove to be more difficult now -- running low on RAM in Win2k is a real problem, and if your VMM (Virtual Memory Manager) isn't set up properly with a generous pagefile, etc, you could run into some problems.
Another problem that crops up is the HAL, or hardware abstraction layer. This layer translates hardware commands on top of the drivers - an extra layer that isn't in Win9x. This layer, if the drivers work with it properly, shouldn't cause any problems - but for the time being if the drivers aren't properly written for it, it can cause serious slowdowns with certain hardware configurations and DirectX. It doesn't, however, appear to affect OpenGL, oddly enough.