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RE: New Win 98 Questions

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For your information, the following article is reprinted from the
October 1998 Issue of Windows magazine.  It is written by my favorite
columnist, Fred Langa.  I have not edited this material whatsoever, but
would only echo the previous insightful comments of both Dennis Wish and
Bill Allen.  Note:  If and when they agree on anything (i.e.; Windows98)
then you ought to pay attention because they just might be on to

Best Regards,

Stan R. Caldwell, P.E.
Dallas, Texas


Taking Stock of Win98 
With the OS's 100-day birthday coming up, let's put some major
misconceptions to rest. 

If your copy of WINDOWS Magazine arrives when it should, Windows 98
should just be coming up on its 100-day milestone as you read this. In
that time, entire armies of end users, IT managers and pundits have been
proven dead wrong in some of their early assumptions-both pro and
con-about the new OS.

Mea culpa: Some of my early assumptions were wrong, too. (I'll explain
in a moment.) But first, let's take a look at the four major negative
misconceptions about Win98, and put them to rest:

Misconception No. 1: Win98 is just a minor upgrade.
Win98 aggregates almost three years' worth of bug fixes, patches and
updates for Win95, Win95a, Win95b and Win95b/USB (and smaller
subreleases). It adds a new driver model that eventually will become the
standard for future versions of NT and Win9x. There's a new, hugely
improved setup process. Win98 contains more, and better, tools for
self-maintenance and repair than any previous version. In enterprise
settings, it's by far the best-behaved and most manageable version of
desktop Windows ever. It offers several interesting performance
enhancements and natively supports new hardware. And, if you so choose,
it integrates browser functionality with your desktop more seamlessly
than does IE 4.0 on Win95. There's more, but you get the idea. If this
isn't a major upgrade, I'm not sure what is.

I'll concede that Win98 is a relatively minor upgrade for a tiny
minority of users: people with very new hardware running the version of
Win95b that has the phrase "with USB support" printed on the CD, who
also have installed the newest version of IE 4.0, and who also have
downloaded all the appropriate patches and fixes. But even then, the
resulting install isn't as seamless or clean as Win98, and it lacks a
number of newer features (such as the WinAlign tool and Disk
Defragmenter's seek-optimization routines).

Misconception No. 2: NT 4.0 is a better choice for most business users.
The reality is that most business PCs are still ill-equipped for NT's
hefty hardware requirements, and there are many, many custom
applications in businesses that run poorly or not at all under NT. By
contrast, Win98 runs on a much wider range of hardware and supports a
vastly larger array of software.

That's not to say NT 4.0 is bad-not at all. In fact, it's true that NT
may be a better choice for users with powerful systems, abundant RAM and
large drives, but with only vanilla peripherals added on or built in and
a limited set of newer applications. NT is also the only real
Windows-family choice in those settings (banks, brokerages, etc.) where
formal C2 security is essential.

But that doesn't begin to describe the majority of the installed base of
business PCs. And for that majority, Win98 is a better choice.

Misconception No. 3: Win98 is a low-end consumer product.
This is the flip side of No. 2 (above) and it's one Microsoft
manufactured. The company wants business users to move to NT for several
reasons, including profit: It makes more money off a copy of NT than it
does off Win9x. So the spin is that Win98 is not for business use.

Baloney. Sure, Win98 plays DOS-style games-but it also runs older
business applications, which NT cannot do. Win98 works with far more
hardware-including some consumer-style devices-than NT can. And those
devices often have business uses. One example: Win98 natively supports
TV tuner cards; NT does not. ATI's excellent All-In-Wonder card has a
software component that can sit in the background and look for keywords
in the closed-captioning stream of, say, CNN or a business TV broadcast.
When your keyword appears in the captioning text, the application can
open a small window on screen to let you follow the breaking news.
Consumer? Not really.

Don't let a marketing message sway you. If Win98 fits your business
needs and budget, then it's the right tool for you, no matter what
Microsoft says.

Misconception No. 4: Win98 and NT 4.0 are both lame; the smart choice is
to wait for NT 5.0.
NT 5.0 looks very promising-a blend of the best of NT 4.0 and Win98.

At one time it made sense to consider bypassing Win98; NT 5.0 was
supposed to be out by now. When it does finally ship-probably late
spring of 1999-businesses will need time to evaluate it, develop a
rollout plan, etc.

But wait-next year is 1999. With NT 5.0, it's entirely possible that
many businesses will find themselves simultaneously trying to perform
two huge tasks: roll out a major new operating system and deal with
whatever Year 2000 bugs crop up. That's not a happy thought.

In the meantime, Win98 is out today, and already offers both the look
and feel and the new driver model that will be in NT 5.0. Businesses
still have time to deploy Win98 and get their houses in order well
before the clock strikes midnight on December 31, 1999.

Positive misconceptions
Early on, there were overly positive assessments of Win98 too, and mine
was among them. For example, I was surprised that a number of systems
needed a BIOS update before they could take full advantage of Win98.
While a BIOS update isn't a huge deal, it's a significant extra step and
inconvenience that would have caused me to be more conditional in
recommending Win98.

And some systems (including my IBM ThinkPad 560) still have trouble
waking up after going into Suspend mode. A few users anecdotally report
slower-seeming modem throughput and incorrect registration of some
components so that some apps think they're still on Win95.

Of course, like all software, Win98 has its share of warts. But on
balance I believe it's the best choice for most users. It's far more
stable than Win95, more solid, polished and integrated than Win3.x and
far more compatible than NT.

If you're on the fence about Win98, check your hardware vendors' and
Microsoft's home pages to see if your system is known to work with

If it is, make the switch: You'll be glad you did.