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Windows 98 vs. Windows NT (4.0 or pending 5.0)

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Steve and Dennis have given some good advice.  It's obvious that they both
have a solid grasp of the differences between Windows 98 and Windows NT.
While Steve is correct in choosing Windows NT as the more stable operating
system because of it's "New Technology", I have to side with Dennis in
recommending Windows 98 for the average user.  Windows NT costs more than
twice as much as Windows 98, but I have more "practical" reasons for my
recommendation.  However, I probably can't state them any better than did
Dennis, but I think I can add some clarification to the discussion, as

	1)  The main reason for the average user, and especially the
neophyte, to use Windows 98 is indeed the shear greater volume of users (and
applications -- more on that later) of Windows 98 compared to Windows NT.
Therefore, Dennis is absolutely correct in his assessment of the far greater
and better support that a Windows 98 user will obtain from not only
Microsoft, but more importantly from the application vendors.  If you call a
vendor of a Windows 95/98 application about a question regarding your NT
operating system, don't be surprised if the technical support person knows
almost nothing at all about Windows NT.

	2)  Steve is correct in his assessment of the future of Windows NT
-- it is indeed where Microsoft intends to head us in the future, but that
doesn't mean that everyone needs to make the leap now.  Windows NT is indeed
a "New Technology" from the standpoint that, from the time it was first
introduced by Microsoft, it was (unlike Windows 3.1, 95 or 98) a complete
and distinctly new operating system.  That is NT's very basis for its
"technical advantages" as an operating system.  Don't be mislead by the
similarities of NT's Graphical User Interface (i.e, GUI) to the GUI of
Windows 3.1, 95 or 98.  The operating systems are as different as night and
day.  Of course Microsoft made the GUI of NT 3.51 to look and work like the
already accepted Program Manager in Windows 3.1, just like they made NT 4.0
look like Windows 95.  And of course, NT 5.0 will look like Windows 98.
That's good marketing, which Microsoft excels (no pun intended) at, so that
people will readily accept NT.  Actually, Windows NT is more similar to IBM
OS/2, in that they are both protected-mode (i.e, memory addresses can only
be used by one application at a time, not shared among applications)
operating systems that can also run legacy programs designed for DOS and
Windows 3.x or 95.  However, Windows 98 (like Windows 3.x and 95) is closer
to DOS, in fact much closer, because it is still a GUI on top of DOS, with a
lot of miscellaneous applications by Microsoft thrown in.  Yes, people,
despite Microsoft's protestations, DOS still exists!  However, I must admit
that the Windows GUI makes it a lot easier (most of the time) to work.

	3)  Windows 95/98 really contains DOS at the programs' cores (there
are ways to prove this, but read computer and hacker trade publications for
more about that).  That's why it's not surprising that   DOS programs often
actually do run better on Windows 95/98 than on NT.  That's for two reasons:
a) When one runs DOS on NT, NT must emulate the DOS operating system because
it doesn't really exist in NT; and b)  Because NT is a protected-mode
operating system, poorly (or cleverly, depending upon your point of view)
written DOS applications that make calls directly to the hardware or
restricted memory addresses are prohibited by NT from completing their
commands.  Therefore, NT can actually be a hindrance when one is running
legacy DOS (or even Windows 3.x) applications.  And let's be honest -- there
are still actually a lot of legacy DOS applications being run, because
there's been nothing better developed yet for Windows, or simply because
they still fulfill the need.

	4)  So Windows NT is better for networking?  Well, yes, because it
was designed with networking in mind.  And yes, because since NT is a
protected-mode operating system, it is less prone to system crashes.  But,
is NT necessary for networking?  Absolutely not!  If you have a large
organization with hundreds of networked users in multiple locations (like we
do), then NT is definitely the way to go -- particularly for the server
operating systems.  However, you can still have Windows 95/98 clients on the
network (I'm writing this on a '95 client connected to multiple NT servers).
Why do IT personnel promote NT as the only OS for networks?  Because it's
network oriented?  Because it's more stable?  These are the reasons that
they (at least 9 out of 10) state, but they are a red herring.  The real
reason is that because of the design of NT (i.e, "security"), users can more
easily be controlled from accessing functions or devices that IT believes
they do not need -- both on the network and the user's own desktops (IT
people usually are empire builders)!  Of course that infuriates power users
like engineers.  You can't believe the battles that we had to go through to
finally obtain permission for the engineers to add additional network
printers to their desktops, or for the structural engineers to be able to
adjust virtual memory settings on their own workstations when prompted by
programs such as STAAD-III.  And of course, even NT can be cracked if one is
knowledgeable or smart enough (that's all I'm going to say on-line about
that).  Of course, for your own use you wouldn't evoke the security lockouts
of NT, would you?  So what will NT offer you?  You may cut down on having to
reboot your computer one to three times a day, mostly due to memory
conflicts in Windows 95/98.  You won't eliminate them entirely though --
even NT can crash, but it will probably be due to a buggy application.

	5)  Small networks?  You don't need NT, and you don't even need
dedicated client/server networks.  Peer-to-peer networks (like Windows for
Workgroups was) work fine for small offices/homes of two to 15+/- computers,
and for small groups they are actually easier to manage.  Even if you have a
dedicated server (for e-mail, web site, etc.), you can still run a
peer-to-peer network.  Guess what?  Windows 95, 98 and NT all support
peer-to-peer networks coinciding seamlessly on NT client/server networks!
That's one of the biggest advantages of Windows NT as a network operating
system, yet it's also one of the least utilized among large office
organizations -- because IT doesn't want it (they still have main frame,
empire mindsets at heart).

	6)  There are a couple of other points to mention regarding Windows
NT.  Although the operating system will be more stable than with Windows 98,
you may actually have less memory available to run your applications in than
with Windows 95/98.  That's because, the overhead memory requirements of NT
are much greater than with conventional Windows.  If you have 64-128+ Kb of
RAM, this probably won't matter, but for 32-64 Kb of RAM, you may actually
have a performance degradation with the more advanced NT operating system.
Also, the more you learn about properly configuring Windows 95/98, the less
likely that you'll be plagued with system crashes.  And the final point.
There are very few applications that are actually separately written and
compiled to take advantage of the more advanced NT operating system.  For
example, Microsoft has written no Office 97 suite to take advantage of NT!
Although Windows 95/98 applications usually say 95/NT or 98/NT on their
labels, what that really means is that, although the applications are
written for Windows 95/98, they will also run under NT.  To publicize that
is almost deceitful, because by design all properly written Windows 95/98
applications, which conform to all Microsoft rules and foundation classes,
should also run under Windows NT regardless.  To take full performance
advantage of the NT operating system, an application should be written and
compiled specifically for the NT operating system, and there are very few
that are.  STAAD-III isn't.  Nor is ADAPT (it's really still pure DOS with
primitive Windows shortcuts).  Nor are PCA programs (they're mostly still
Windows 3.x applications).  Eagle Point Software's programs aren't, and
neither are RISA Technologies' applications.  In fact, I know of only two
applications that we have in our entire multi-discipline office(s) that are
separately written and compiled for Windows NT.  They are GT_STRUDL and
MicroStation.  I would expect AutoCAD, Release 14.0, to be also, but I'm not
certain about it.

Well, there you have it.  The paradox is that while I believe Windows NT is
a superior operating system to Windows 95/98, I recommend Windows 98 for the
average user or small office network.

James H. Stamper, PE (Jim)
Senior Structural Engineer
Heery International, Inc.
(E-Mail:  jstamper(--nospam--at)

	From: "Dennis S. Wish PE" <wish(--nospam--at)>
	To: <seaint(--nospam--at)>
	Subject: New Win 98 Questions

	Steve, I am not here to debate this either.  My opinion in operating
system choice is "to each his own".  I have clients who run NT 4.0 and have
had a great deal of problems with it.  Now, they are running NT on a network
and this may be where his problems originate.

	Personally, I am very pleased with 98 and find it to be a very
stable platform.  Yes, I have some problems, but with the availability of
the new System Information program that is on the Win 98 Accessories folder,
I have been very successful tracking errors and correcting them.  I have not
had an error that was attributed to the operating system, with the exception
of one that was caused by a corrupted system file.  This was caught by the a
small program as part of the System Information module called "System File
Checker".  This small program keeps track of the version and dates of the
original system files and lets you know when one is corrupted or has been
replaced by another file with a different date.  The program also lets you
restore the damaged files.

	In addition, there are a bunch of utilities that allow you to delete
missing links, errors in the system registry, and a maintenance mode that
keeps the hard drive in the most effective order to optimize file loading.
The biggest reason to stay with '98 for now is the cost.  If this is an
upgrade, '98 will cost the user about $89.00, while, I believe, a new copy
of NT will be considerably more expensive.  Outside of that, I don't have
the knowledge and experience with NT to compare availability of compatible
software, speed and any other issues between the two.  I do believe, that
Microsoft has changed the appearance of NT 5.0 to be closer to '98 so that
it will make the transition easier.  If you were to ask what I would do, I
would upgrade to NT 5.0 when it was available, because I know that is the
direction that Microsoft is going for the reasons I stated in my last post.

	However, for a neophyte who is just starting with Windows or
upgrading to '98, I would suggest '98 over NT for two other reasons: a) the
shear number of '98 users exceeds NT users at the small scale.  This makes
support by others around you easier to contend with without having to
contact Microsoft or a system specialist.  I'm not saying that support for
NT is not good, but I believe more individuals are using '98, and this would
make peer support more handy.  The second, and possibly you can comment on
this, is that I assumed NT to be focused on a workgroup or network usage.
Therefore, I would believe that the documentation and uses of terms would be
more technical than most could handle.  I had a similar problem when moving
into '95.  I did not understand the concept of a server or client - too very
important concepts in understanding Microsoft Exchange Client.  Now that '95
has been upgraded to a POP connection, most of us don't have to understand
the Inbox or Exchange clients.  We are, however, becoming more understanding
of these terms while still not networking our computers.  This is due, in
part, by learning to create websites and gaining experience understanding
the role a "server" plays.  The majority seeking our help on this server are
neophytes who lack the knowledge that Steve and I (and many other active
participants of this list) share.  I don't wish to argue with Steve, since
he makes valid points.  I would only suggest that independent users who were
never on a network (or workgroup) might understand the setup and maintenance
on a Windows-based operating system better than an NT system.  As far as New
Technology - NT was introduced almost the same time as Windows 95.  I might
consider it DT (Different Technology), but I doubt that it really is new and
improved except compared to Windows 3.1.

	Finally, I don't harbor the same concerns that many have with Bill
Gates - I admire the man for what he accomplished.  I don't want to debate
this, as Steve indicated, I just wanted to state my opinions.  I only wish I
had been able to save, beg, borrow or steal the money needed to invest in
Microsoft back in '86.



		-----Original Message-----
		From: Steve Privett [mailto:eqretrodr(--nospam--at)]
		Sent: Saturday, October 17, 1998 10:54 AM
		To: seaint(--nospam--at)
		Subject: New Win 98 Questions

		Dennis S. Wish PE wrote:

			From what I just read, NT 5.0 may be delayed until
the end of next year at the earliest.  I also read that the current Beta
version looks and acts very much like Win 98.  Remember that NT 5.0 has been
primarily used for networked systems. Microsoft is anticipating a need in
the private sector for personal networks within the small office or home.
With broadband technology becoming more and more a reality every day, those
wishing to keep up with technology will need to consider establishing a
personal network to control most of our daily functions above and beyond
work.  This includes, on-line banking, shopping, education and research.  It
also includes the ability to control your homes (lights, HVAC, security and

			With this in mind, NT 5.0 will be important,
however, don't throw away 95 or 98 yet.  I suspect that Windows 98 will be
supported for at least the next five years until features become so
important that 98 is considered similar to 3.1 -- a dinosaur.

			Although many of you swear by DOS, there will be a
point in the near future that you will lose the support from both Microsoft
and the companies who originally wrote the software you are using.  This is
to be expected as economics drive the services offered on software.  Very
few manufactures of popular software are maintaining DOS versions.  One
driving reason is that many printers today will not work in DOS mode (such
as the HP DeskJet series like the 820).

			This is not to say that you can't continue to use
the equipment you presently own, but at some time the hardware will give
out, a glitch in magnetic media will corrupt a disk, a 5-1/4 floppy will
fail and you won't be able to find a replacement, etc.  You will have a
choice - upgrade and repeat the process of the downward learning curve
(which becomes more difficult as features increase), OR wait until you no
longer have the resources to complete the work and retire.

			In the mean time, I think you can get some long
mileage on Windows 98.  I also believe that you should upgrade to NT 5.0
when it comes out, IF you are interested in establishing a personal server
to take advantage of Broadband, multiple computers in the home, and other
network options.

			Dennis Wish, PE

				-----Original Message-----
				From: Steve Privett
				Sent: Saturday, October 17, 1998 6:35 AM
				To: seaint(--nospam--at)
				Subject: New Win 98 Questions

				Szuchuan Chang wrote:

				Please also consider Windows NT 4.0.

				I agree with this one... Win 98 is the last
of its kind.. NT 5.0 is due for release next year, and it will be the only
OS of MS.  It's very stable, but there are some programs that don't run on
it.  I've not found any structural or office type programs that I have
problems with, but there are some games (who puts games on their
computers...) and some educational software for kids.  NT 4.0 also doesn't
have the plug and play for all hardware upgrades, but that hasn't been a
problem.  You just have to read and perform the proper setup.

				Steve P

		It has been used primarily for networks because of the power
and stability.  I converted to NT back at 3.51, so I would have the power to
run multiple sessions of AutoCAD after getting over the idea that NT was for
networks.  Most individual users didn't go to NT because they didn't need
it, and therefore couldn't justify the additional money.  I don't run a
network, but have found my system much more stable than colleagues' W95 or
W98 setups I've used in their offices.  If something does crash, it only
crashes the software, not the entire operating system and machine.

		The idea that if you don't run networks, you don't need NT,
is like saying I only do one or two frame analyses a year, so I don't need
the software.  Correct, it's not needed, but it is a great asset to have and
will make your work more efficient once you go through the learning curve.
That's where the idea of moving to NT makes since.... make the change now
and you don't have to do it later.  It will happen if you are one to
eventually upgrade, as most of us are... Some stay with DOS, but most
recognize the advantage of using the newer technology, which is what NT
stands for -- New Technology.  All of the things people were talking about
with partition sizing and resizing, along with multiple boots can all be
done with NT without the addition of third party software.

		The file system for can also be setup in NTFS rather than
FAT.  This has proven to be more efficient also than the FAT systems.

		The only thing to be aware of, the common version of NT does
not support 128-bit encryption.  So if you want 128-bit encryption for the
Internet, make sure you purchase the compatible version of NT... Otherwise
you will have problems.

		Yes, W98 will be supported for a few more years.  If Windows
3.x is a clue, they will give about 3 years support after they quit
producing W98.  But, after using both operating systems, I cast my vote to
NT.  And, I say that even though I'm not a big fan of Bill Gates.  But,
that's another subject regarding the conversion of computer illiterate
people to users...

		Just my opinion, and an effort to educate... not meant to
start a debate here.

		Steve P