WINDOWS 98 -- Microsoft Strikes Back?

Windows 98 accelerates the move from 16-bit to 32-bit Windows-based desktops. Windows 98 grows out of, but keeps, Windows 95 features. Windows 98 gives a practical upgrade option for those not ready to move to Windows NT Workstation.

Microsoft suggests that NT 5.0 is the real go -- it's gonna include all of 98's goodies, and then some.

Overview of Windows 98:

  • Win16 and MS-DOS-based application compatibility.

  • Improved networking features, including Remote Access and VPN support.

  • A solid platform for Office 97 and a strong client for Windows NT Server.

  • Support for a range of exciting new hardware.

Windows 98 (originally code-named "Memphis"), incorporates the innovations of the Windows 95 operating system.

Added are:

  • Many refinements and improvements

  • Interface enhancements designed to make Windows 98-based PCs easier to use

  • Smart Upgrade -- reducing desktop total cost of ownership through increased reliability, manageability, and dynamic Help.

  • New system tools will proactively help keep PCs running at peak performance and recover from computing problems.

  • Compelling new features for both the home or the workplace -- whether the user wants the very latest hardware or is merely looking to simplify computing.

Corporate system upgrades
The cost to deploy Windows 98-based systems has been intentionally kept to a minimum. Ditto for support of the new OS.

Windows 98 includes new tools to automate deployment to multiple desktops. It's a breeze for support staff to quickly diagnose and correct problems with new utilities such as the System Information Utility and the new Registry Checker. An easy-to-use Upgrade Wizard leads the way for installing 98 on Windows 95 and Windows 3.x-based system.

Home system upgrades
Home users will get increased reliability and Web integration with Windows 98.

User interface enhancements (such as single-click opening, icon highlighting, forward/backward buttons, and an easy-to-customize Start menu) make navigation easier.

98 Adds New System Utilities

PCs run faster and smoother with New wizards and utilities, like the System File Checker. Windows 98 puts Web resources directly on the desktop thus making computers more entertaining and easier to use. The tight integration of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.0 gives a new e-mail client and desktop information manager, Outlook Express. Microsoft NetMeetingTM conferencing software supports Internet conferencing.

New hardware purchasers
Windows 98 supports the cutting-edge hardware -- including the newest media platforms.

"Building-out" the, up to now, taken for granted PC complications is one of the goals of Windows 98 -- to make the computer easy to use -- like everyday "appliances."

With OnNow a new PC starts right up the same as a modern radio or TV.

The next generation of Plug and Play hardware can now arrive since WINDOWS 98 supports the Universal Serial Bus (USB)

The New Media Flies With 98

Windows 98 makes the PC the ringleader of the home entertainment circus.

The powerful processing and communications capabilities of the PC can now organize and lead previously disparate components, such as television, Digital Video Disc (DVD), and the Internet. This alchemy, combining television and HTML, for example, lets users review and search for their favorite TV programs with the built-in Program Guide. They can then immediately view a show on the computer, or set reminders to watch shows at a later time. Enhanced Television programming leavens traditional television shows with information such as sports statistics or cooking recipes.

Windows 98 as the first major upgrade of Windows 95 makes the operating system a savvy, Internet-smart environment. This blending of the PC and the net brings together the best of the Web with the best of the PC.

Work in a faster and more powerful environment

Enhancing the PC experience in the areas of richness and performance is another focus of Windows 98.

Windows 98 delivers streamlined performance in the areas of application load time and system shutdown. Other productivity advances include:

The industry now supports innovations like USB, IEEE 1394, and DVD.

With Windows 98 support for the formidable array of hardware and software advancements is built-in, deploying the newest in PC technology.

Managing the work environment
TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) -- Reducing the burden of PC cost, while increasing the value of use, is part of the design strategy. To this end, Windows 98 fields utilities to configure systems, troubleshoot problems, and keep machines up-to-date by automating the installation of new drivers, patches, and other software updates.
Updates Are Now Easy And Convenient

A 98 PC Is Never All Alone By The Telephone!

The Internet Infrastructure

Integrated Internet Shell
With the Zen of Window 98's Integrated Internet Shell there is nirvana -- 'net access becomes one with the user interface. You don't need one program to look at local information, another to search a local area network, and yet another to browse the Internet or an intranet. Is the computer the network or is the Network the computer?

Dial-Up Networking improvements
Windows 98 Dial-Up Networking includes support for :

Advanced Web-browsing functions
Advanced browsing capabilities:

Reliability and Manageability -- Onward and upward!

Disk Defragmenter Optimization Wizard
The most frequently used applications now load faster. Windows 98 identifies the most commonly used programs by automatically keeping a log. The OS then adjusts the hard disk accordingly.

FAT32 file system and conversion
FAT32, is an improved version of the FAT (file allocation table) file system. FAT32 supports disks over two gigabytes. These drives can now be formatted as a single partition. Cluster size is smaller than FAT drives. The result is a more efficient use of space on large disks. Windows 98 provides a graphical FAT32 conversion utility. Converting a hard disk from the original version of FAT to FAT32 is quick and easy. It worked without a hitch when I gave it a try on a test system.

Windows Update and the Windows Update Manager
Windows 98 reaches out to The Windows Update Web site, a new, centralized Web-based resource site. Windows Update continuously provides easy access to the latest drivers and operating system files. This keeps users' systems tuned and up-to-date. Windows Update also gives product assistance with up-to-date information and practical answers to questions. Windows Update and the Windows Update Manager makes computing easier!

System File Checker utility
A new utility that easily detects modified or corrupted Windows 98 System Files. Plus, the utility will restore the changed files to the original versions.

System Configuration utility
This utility automates, for both tech staff and user alike, routine troubleshooting and rebooting steps for diagnosing issues with Windows configuration. Graphical editing of common files such as Autoexec.bat, Config.sys, and ini files is another feature.

Microsoft System Information utility
This centralized system information utility gathers system configuration information for technical support. Support professionals can quickly resolve problems with this tool made up of a collection of ActiveX controls, each responsible for collecting and displaying a certain category of system information.

New Dr. Watson utility
The enhanced version of the Dr. Watson utility, intercepts and indicate what software faulted and why when a software fault occurs, such as a general protection fault or system hang. Also, Dr. Watson keeps detailed log information documenting the system state when a fault occur.

New backup utility
The new backup applet supports SCSI tape devices. Backups are faster and easier.

New Registry Checker Windows 98 does rigorous scans of the Registry ferreting out possible corruption. Needed repairs or restores are done from backups.

Automatic ScanDisk after improper shutdown
ScanDisk automatically runs after the operating system is shut down improperly or if a hard error (a physical error) occurs on a hard drive.

Windows 98 Delivers A Wall Of Vision

Multiple Display Support
Multiple Display Support puts multiple monitors on a single PC. Having the desktop spread over a number of monitors pushes the envelope in a host of fields -- desktop publishing, Web development, video editing, and gaming, to name just a few.

Support for the Latest Hardware

New-generation hardware
Windows 98 takes advantage of the current explosion of progress in PC hardware. The new OS embraces Universal Serial Bus (USB), IEEE 1394 Fire Wire, Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP), and Digital Video Disc (DVD).

Power management improvements
Windows 98 uses Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI). ACPI ,an open industry specification proposed by Intel, Microsoft, and Toshiba, provides standard power management functionality in PCs. Windows 98 also supports the Advanced Power Management (APM) 1.2 extensions -- disk spindown, PC Card modem power down, and resume on ring, for example.

Broadcast architecture
Using a TV board, a Windows 98 PC receives and displays television and other data distributed through the broadcast networks (US only). The Windows 98 Program Guide lists television shows -- an online TV guide on steroids, so to speak. Windows 98 receives Enhanced Television programs combining standard television with HTML information.

PCMCIA enhancements
Support for PC Card32 (Cardbus): Cardbus upgrades the small PC Card to 32-bit performance.

Road warriors and other notebook users now have high-bandwidth applications like video capture and 100-Mbps networking in their collection of weapons. Another PCMCIA enhancement is the support for Multifunction PC Cards.

Sad to relate, the upgrade was not without incident. The hard drive did not have enough room, but the wizard tried anyhow. After two days of defective installs that refused to start, I finally broke down and FDISKed and FORMATed the drive.

I then loaded the system from scratch. That went OK, with a single exception. A SCSI card that worked fine under 95 just won't budge under 98.

With the new OS, the system does start and shut down faster than before.

I plugged this 98 system into a Novell LAN. The network interface card install was a breeze. The Novell 95 client also works without hesitation.

Is it worth it -- yes and no! If PCs are your life and/or livelihood, you're going to have to get the knack of 98. You might as well start right now. If you've got a single PC and you depend on it for work, or if you are responsible for managing a 100 or a 1000 PCs that a business needs to keep employees productive, I'd hold off upgrading.