Notepad is a survivor. Built into Windows for ages, it's still doing yeoman service as a fast, lightweight, easy-to-use text editor. Notepad2 from Flo's Freeware is a Scintilla-based text editor with syntax highlighting. It's called Notepad2 because it follows the original Notepad's principles. It's compact and lightweight: The entire program folder is about 766KB. This makes it fast: Notepad2 loads quickly. But Notepad2 does a whole lot more than Notepad. Despite their many similarities, there really is no comparison: Notepad2 is a far more capable tool than Notepad for any text document. But for those who code, Notepad2 has much to offer, starting with syntax highlighting but with many more improvements over Notepad, including encoding options, advanced searching and editing tools, selectable (and customizable) syntax schemes (including a second default scheme), and much more.
Notepad2 is portable, but the program's Web site has instructions for replacing Notepad in Windows, and the text file included with the download has version info, keyboard shortcuts, regular expression syntax, command line switches, and other documentation. While Notepad2 does indeed feel quick like Notepad (and even has a very similar taskbar icon) the resemblance ends where the business begins, which in Notepad2's case is the toolbar and expanded file menu. The best way to compare Notepad and Notepad 2 is side by side, with the same text -- in this case, some HTML from a browser page's source code we copied and pasted into each. Only in Notepad2, we clicked Syntax Scheme and selected Web Source Code from a menu with more schemes than a Boris Karloff thriller, with all applicable schemes active. Notepad2 highlighted our code in color. Notepad2 offers lots more options for displaying and editing text. The File Menu's Encoding submenu includes ANSI, Unicode, and UTF-8 options. Clicking More accessed many more international encoding options, including ISO, DOS, Mac, and even IBM EBCDIC in multiple languages.
While Notepad has served long and well in Windows, it's obvious that Notepad2 is simply in another category altogether. Whether you use it beside Notepad or instead of it, Notepad 2 is by far the more capable text editor.