Windows 2000 was released by Microsoft in early 2000, superseding the previous operating system Windows NT 4.0. The latest and final release of Windows 2000 is 5.0. There are four different versions of Windows 2000, the Professional, Server, Advanced Server and Datacenter Server. This operating system is unique in that it had a lot of software firsts, in which, much of the software found in Windows 2000 is still included in operating systems released by Microsoft today. For example, Plug and Play, more simply known as PnP, for hardware was first introduced on this operating system. Windows 2000 was also the first operating system to have multilingual support. It supports many of the Indo-European languages, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic.
Windows 2000 saw a significant improvement in stability, which resulted in far less crashes, something that Windows 98 and NT suffered from. Windows 2000 was the first operating system to see Internet Explorer 5 and 6. It also further developed users ability to share data over a network, specifically creating something called an Active Directory. This directory could not only be accessed from any other computer on the network, but also encrypted. A unique feature to this operating system is its inclusion of Windows Media Player, the first player to support DirectShow codecs. Windows 2000 also expanded upon its ability to support DirectX for games and programs, currently supporting DirectX 9.0.