Windows Me (Millenium Edition) is an operating system from Microsoft, released commercially September 14, 2000. Windows Me was developed specifically for the home user, while Windows 2000 was developed specifically for the business user. Microsoft claims that Me was an update on Windows 98 (which has a very similar look-and-feel), adding a more intuitive interface for a novice user while adding functionality for more experienced users.
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Designed to be backwards compatible with Windows 98, Windows Me works with the earlier version's applications and drivers. Improvements over Windows 98 include functions to enhance system stability and error correction (what Microsoft is calling "PC health"), as well as features designed for digital media, home networking, and online experience:
PC health features:
- System restore, which allows users to return to a prior (functioning) configuration when encountering problems
- System file protection, which prevents accidental overwriting of critical system files
- Auto-update, which automatically downloads Microsoft updates
Digital media features:
- Image acquisition, which facilitates transfer of images from digital equipment
- Movie Maker, which enables digital editing, saving and sharing of videos
- Media Player 7, which coordinates and organizes digital media operations
- DirectPlay voice chat, which enables chat between users playing games over the Web
Home networking features:
- Home Networking Wizard, which walks the user through steps to connect multiple computers in a home
- Improved technology for Internet connection-sharing
- Simplified Universal Serial Bus (USB) networking
- Universal plug-and-play technology
Online experience features:
- Internet Explorer 5.5
- NetMeeting 3.0 for conference capability
- Enhanced interoperability of Outlook and MSN Messenger Service
- Easier Web publishing
Although this is the first time that many of these features have been combined into a package, it's worthwhile to note that many - including Media Player 7.0, Internet Explorer 5.5, DirectX 7.0a and NetMeeting 3.0 - were already available for free download from Microsoft's Web site. Windows Me was the last operating system based on the Windows 95 kernel. Windows ME was made obsolete by Windows XP, which will in turn be followed by Windows Vista, formerly code-named "Longhorn." Microsoft offically ended support for Windows Me on July 11, 2006.