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Windows 2000 Is Here and Q&A Lives On!!

Well, here we go again.  Microsoft has released their latest, ‘greatest,’ new operating system and we all have to scurry out like good little lemmings and install it on our computers.  Yes, Windows 2000 and SP1 have been released.  It is supposed to be the harbinger of all good things to come in computer operating systems.  I think it really is!  However, we are only concerned with one thing!  WILL Q&A RUN IN WINDOWS 2000?

Ever since February 17th, 2000 (the release date of Windows 2000) I have been asked this question over and over.  My answer as of today is a definite ‘YES!’  In order to determine this, I went right out and bought my copies of Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Windows 2000 Professional Workstation.  One of my clients upgraded his entire system to Windows 2000.  A system on which I then proceeded to install a brand new Q&A 5.0 application.  Q&A is running on both my system and the client’s.  WOW! There are lots of issues to discuss, lots of really positive features, and some cautions.  So, let’s take a closer look.

Q: Will all versions of Q&A run in the new OS?

A: No! Only the DOS versions.  Q&A Windows will not even get to the splash screen before it crashes. (But stay tuned to John Dow's Web Site for more on this)


Q: Do we still have to worry about the large hard drive issue (> 2Gb)?

A: Absolutely!  The good news is that not only does Q&A run in Windows 2000, but so does Lesspace. It does for Q&A just what it did in Win98 – keeps it running super on the large hard drive.  So, Q&A must still be run using a batch file that calls Lesspace and then Q&A (more on this later).  Of course, you can still partition your hard drive to create a < 2Gb partition and you don’t need Lesspace. Don’t try this on your C: drive since Windows 2000 needs in excess of 1Gb of space just for itself. Remember, version 4.0 will not even install on a large hard drive, so for it you will have to use physical partitioning. The good news is that while Windows 2000 is NT based, it will recognize not only FAT but also FAT32 partitions. What a boon for us old DOS heads!


Q: Do we still have to set the shortcut memory properties for expanded and extended memory?

A: Yes, but here comes some of the good news.  All testing to date shows that Windows 2000 will provide expanded and extended memory without the use of ANY statements in the config.sys.  In fact, there is no config.sys in Windows 2000.  The memory settings for Initial Environment, Expanded, and Extended memory should all be set to 1024.


Q: Will Q&A run in a Window and/or full screen mode?

A: Yes!  Just like in previous versions of Windows, Q&A will run either way, and pressing Alt-Enter will allow you to switch between the two modes.  However, setting the size of the Windowed mode is a little tricky.  In Win98 you could select the font type in the properties and then adjust it once you ran the application in the Window.  You do the same in Win2000, however, once you run the program you have to go to the Layout tab in the window properties (right click the icon in the upper right hand corner of the window) and actually set the Window width and height as well as the position to try and change it.  While a little more complex, it probably will give you more control over your final window size.


Q: Can I use a mouse in the Windowed mode?

A: Yes! If you right click on the Icon on the taskbar and set the properties to Deselect "Quick Edit"


Q: Can you cut and paste in Win2000 like you could in Win98?

A: Yes, but differently.  In Win98 you had a toolbar in the windowed mode that gave you an icon for marking (a dotted square) and another for pasting (the clipboard tool). In Win2000 these icons are not available.  But, if you left or right click the icon in the upper right hand corner of the Window or right click in the title bar, you get a dropdown menu with a sub-menu for Edit. On this menu, you will find the choice for marking and pasting.  Make sure not to select Hide Mouse Pointer or you will lose a lot of capabilities.  Now comes the really neat feature.  If, once you are in the window, you click on the properties menu, as described above, and make sure that Quick Edit Mode is selected in the Options tab of the properties, you will be able to select anything you want by simply left-clicking and dragging (with the button held) your mouse across it. Then either a right click or a press of the Enter key places the selection into the clipboard.  It will still take the menu Edit selection to paste it into Q&A, but this is a real neat addition.  Another plus is that with Win2000 you can set the properties to allow Fast Pasting for much speedier pasting operation than was available in Win98.


Q: Are there any shortcut settings that are different than in Win98?

A: Yes, there is one to be very careful with.  It seems that Win2000 wants DOS programs to suspend their operations when they are not the active window.  To that end, it sets the default property in the settings to Always Suspend on the Misc tab.  Make sure to turn this off so that Q&A can still perform while you are doing other things.  In this arena, Win2000 has it all over Win98.  In 98, whenever you ran any DOS application, your computer would definitely take a performance hit.  As a matter of fact, running multiple instances of Q&A could bring your system to its knees.  Win2000 performs much better in this situation.  I have run as many as four instances of Q&A, at the same time, in separate windows, with no degradation in performance.  My testing to date indicates that Q&A in Win2000 runs much faster than in Win98.  There seems to be no need to hold down the Ctrl key to speed up certain operations.  There is no performance degradation even if Q&A is running a mass update in the background! WOW!


Now lets look at the one issue with shortcuts that gave me a headache.  If you are running Q&A with Lesspace, you will have created a batch file to run the application.  In Win98, you simply drag the batch file to the desktop and click on Paste Shortcut on the desktop.  You can then right-click on the shortcut to see the properties and you get a tabbed dialogue box like:

Figure 1. Com File Shortcut

Note that the properties box gives you control over all of the features of the application including the miscellaneous and the memory tabs.  These were where you set the items discussed in this article for Win98 operation.

However, when you do the same thing, with a batch file in Win2000, you get a tabbed dialogue box like:

Fig 2 Batch File Shortcut

Note that this dialogue box is missing the Miscellaneous, Program, and Memory tabs.  This is because Win2000 thinks it knows what to do with your batch files and will not let you make the absolutely necessary changes to the Q&A operation.  This could be a real disaster.  The way around this is to drag Q&A.COM to the desktop and create the shortcut.  This will give you a shortcut like that in figure 1.  Then, proceed to make all of the proper settings, and, as a last step, click on the program tab and change the cmd line to have the name and location of the batch file rather than QA.COM   It is a workaround, but it only has to be done once and then everything is fine.  Your properties box will always remain the same as that shown in Fig 1.

Q: Will Q&A run in a Windows 2000 network environment?

A: Yes, but there are some important issues I have experienced.  When I first put my laptop into network service with 2000, Q&A would lock up every time I accessed my files on the network.  With some experimentation, I seem to have come up with the solution. Make sure that the network protocol you are using is TCP/IP only! I had no success with netBEUI or IPX/SPX protocols.  Once I set my network system to TCP/IP, Q&A worked flawlessly.  I have not gotten any network busy messages or hang-ups.  Q&A has not locked up my system once.  I have gotten no Q&A failures to date.  Remember, using network printers in Windows2000 with Q&A is much different than in Windows98.  In Win98, you simply captured your network printer to LPT2 or LPT3 and chose that port for your printer in Q&A.  In Windows 2000, you must go to a command prompt and type a statement to set your captures.  If you do this correctly, it is a one-time operation.  E.g. if you want to capture your network printer called HPIII attached to the server as LPT3, at the command prompt, you would type:

Net use lpt3: \\server\hpiii /persistent:yes

This will capture your printer and reset the capture each time you boot or reboot your system.

So, I must say that Q&A and Windows 2000 seem to be good partners. This recommendation relates to both the workstation and Server versions.  Am I recommending that you go right out and upgrade to Windows 2000? 

If you are currently running NT and are very familiar with its operation - absolutely yes.   

If you are currently on Windows 98 and not trained on NT operations and setup, I would still recommend it.

My testing rates it as the most stable and well-performing OS that Microsoft has ever produced!