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RE: New Win 98 Questions[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
- To: "'seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org'" <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
- Subject: RE: New Win 98 Questions
- From: "Caldwell, Stan" <scaldwell(--nospam--at)halff.com>
- Date: Mon, 19 Oct 1998 17:09:41 -0500
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 something! 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 Win98. If it is, make the switch: You'll be glad you did.
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