Retrocomputing enthusiasts bent on using old hardware and old software are all around us. Although many hobbyists use pre-GUI operating systems from the 1980s and early 1990s, a sizable number of retrocomputing enthusiasts use operating systems from the late 1990s and even the early 2000s. As technology moves forward, the line between modern and retro will inevitably continue to move forward, but for the time being, operating systems from the early 2000s are about as "modern" retro can get. Although Windows XP is no longer supported, Microsoft still actively supports it for certain customers and it isn't yet considered abandonware. Windows ME, widely thought to be a mistake, is not running on all that many computers, so Windows 2000 is really as modern as retro gets. Why is that?
Released to manufacturing in December 1999 and launch to retail in February 2000, Microsoft's Windows 2000 operating system helped usher in the new millennium. Windows 2000 was the first major release of Windows to not use MS-DOS as a foundation; Windows 2000 was, as it reminded users, "built on NT technology", as modern versions of Windows still are. Likely the most stable version of Windows ever released, it also had the shorted shelf life, being succeeded by Windows XP less than two years after it was released. Microsoft ended support for Windows 2000 on July 13, 2010.
Windows 2000 (originally Windows NT 5.0) featured numerous improvements over the Windows 9x line of operating systems. USB support first became prominent with Windows 98 Second Edition (which was released in 1999), but Windows 2000 went further with its improved Plug and Play support. Though the OS came with Internet Explorer 5, Internet Explorer 6 is also available for Windows 2000. 64-bit versions of Windows 2000 were released in 2002. Windows File Protection, the Logical Disk Manager, and the Microsoft Management Console all made their appearance in Windows 2000.
Unlike the Windows 9x line of operating systems, Windows 2000 was designed to be a business operating system, though editions were released for home users. One of the most important new features in Windows 2000 was Active Directory, which replaced Windows NT's earlier domain model and is used to this day to manage and organize Windows domains. Windows 2000 Professional was the first client operating system that could take advantage of Active Directory, though Windows 2000 Server, Advanced Server, or Datacenter Server were required to actually run the domain (Windows 2000 Server installations could not be domain controllers). Earlier Windows NT clients could also join a Windows 2000 domain.
To see some screenshots of this amazing OS, check out Windows 2000 at Toasty Tech. We do not post images on our site to avoid copyright infringement, but the best way to see Windows 2000 in action is to install it on your computer and use it!