Windows NT 5.0
Preliminary name Windows 99
Final name Windows 2000
Release to manufacturing December 15, 1999
Official release date February 17, 2000

Windows NT 5.0, which would become known as Windows 2000, was Microsoft's first real attempt at making the Windows NT operating system both a viable replacement for Windows 95/98 and serious competition in the server market dominated by Unix and Unix-like systems. Windows 2000 finally brought many of Windows 9x's most important features over to the NT kernel, like a full-fledged device manager, power management through APM or ACPI, and actual support for multiple monitors and later DirectX versions.

Many enterprise customers skipped Windows 98 in favor of this operating system, and licenses of Windows 95 were sold even as late as 2000. From 1998 to 1999, Windows NT 4.0 also spiked up in usage as it was promised to provide the smoothest upgrade path to Windows 2000. While it would be another year and a half before the Windows NT family would begin to displace Windows 9x as the prime operating system for the home market, Windows 2000's conveniences made it a practical option for households nonetheless.

But of course Microsoft, being themselves, pressed on with the idea of integrating the new Internet Explorer-based shell into Windows 2000 in spite of the fact that they were sued for such an anti-competitive practice. For the systems Windows 2000 initially targeted compared to Windows 98, the extra overhead wouldn't necessarily be as severe, but still, a number of corporate laptops sold in 2001 only had 64MB of RAM, which is quite a bit less than what would allow Windows 2000 to avoid excessive virtual memory paging.

Earliest leaked build of Windows NT 5.0, already has an early version of Internet Explorer 4.0 integrated
A visibly unstable build with a shaky Explorer interface
Earliest known build to change the shutdown dialog text
A more polished build but still suffers from pink toolbar icons
Early server build, introduces some shell-related features in parallel with Memphis
Includes a default animated Active Desktop wallpaper
Supports PnP device detection, shell is unstable
Earliest leaked Beta 1 build of Windows NT 5.0, floats the idea of a "round" style in some places and introduces a new startup sound that never made it to the final release
Another Beta 1 build; the Narrator program is covered here
Includes an HTML-based tour for beta testers and Microsoft Management Console
Last leaked build from 1997, begins transitioning the GUI setup program away from the old form more and has an IE shell which matches that of Windows 98
Much the same as 1723, only now it is the earliest leaked build from 1998
First appearance of Safe Mode (called "Minimal Services Boot") in Windows NT
1743, 1745
Help files and other webby decorations are rebranded with blue squares, underlying shutdown routine appears to be undergoing modifications (hence 1743 crashes when shutting down)
Introduces the On-Screen Keyboard and fade transitions for menu popups
New welcome dialog, Internet Explorer steps up to version 5.0, search dialog moved inside IE shell, "My Documents" creates a "My Pictures" folder in itself
Updated logon window, last build known to still use radio buttons in the shutdown dialog rather than a drop down menu
First leaked build denoted as Beta 2. Comes with new phone dialer, the Deluxe CD Player from Plus! 98, Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth (software MIDI)
Add a Windows Update shortcut to the Start menu by default, Explorer toolbar icons are smaller, some standard Windows 98 sounds implanted here
1855, 1877, 1888, 1859
Some of these builds won't install, others have missing/corrupted files that can be fixed easily
1902, 1906, 1911
1902 has an animated banner on the first Help page because internet, also includes some strange drawings made in Paintbrush for Windows (NT) 3.x. 1911 has a calculator module for Active Desktop.
Beta 3 build of NT 5.0 from late 1998 that now brands itself as Windows 2000, introduces a number of new things like balloon tips and startup/shutdown sounds
1964, 1965, 1969
Earliest builds of 1999, WINNT.EXE now defaults to a floppyless installation
1983, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2000.3
New startup/shutdown sounds, sample picture, and other such polishings
2000.1, 2020, 2031
Opts for different variants of the startup/shutdown sounds
2068, 2072, 2091, 2092, 2128, 2151, 2167, 2183, 2124
Basically everything starting to take form, moving out of Beta 3 phase
A build of Windows 2000 Advanced Server that leaked in 2021, hardly any different from RTM
The gold release of Windows 2000 sold in retail channels and preinstalled on then new systems. More emphasis is placed on unofficial kernel extensions in this review.

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