On June 25, 1998 Microsoft is ready to
ship Windows 98 to the general public. This will occur unless the US Department
of Justice take some sort of dramatic action to stop the shipments. See the link
below for more information regarding this ongoing legal battle:
DOJ has cast a wide net in its Microsoft probe -- ZDnet
takes an in-depth look at the current DOJ actions.
Beginning in mid-May, hardware manufacturers will begin to receive the
commercial version of Windows 98. By mid-summer, all new computers will come
with the new Windows 98 operating system installed. What about the rest of us?
Should we make the step up to Windows 98?
To answer this question, we should first take a look at the new
operating system features offered by Windows 98 which are beyond the current
capabilities of Windows 95.
Important New Hardware Support
Hardware technology keeps evolving at a incredible pace. The new
processors, hard drives, sound and video cards, DVD, MMX, and a host of other
new offerings all require a new operating system to fully exploit their
capabilities. Listed below are some of these major hardware advances supported
by Windows 98.
Enhanced Graphics Support
Windows 98 will include built-in
support for MMX processors and Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) graphics cards.
This means a faster screen loading experience for both graphics intensive
applications and internet browsing.
Universal Serial Bus Support
This makes your computer
compatible with today's advanced plug & play capabilities. Using this new
industry standard connector you can add new devices to your computer while it is
Multiple Display Support
Using this feature, it will be
possible to use up to nine monitors simultaneously (even if they run at
different resolutions). All display adapters must be PCI or AGP devices.
Obviously, this will let you do things like increase the size of your desktop,
or run different applications on separate monitors, or play games with multiple
IEEE 1394 Bus / Fire-Wire
This is the new industry-standard
interface for controlling consumer electronic devices from your computer. These
devices can be stereos, video players, CD players, etc. Wow, just what I've
always wanted - a master control center right from my PC! I'll never have to
leave my chair again. Actually, these connections are a great a way for sending
PC resident content (like DVD) to an outside device. Way cool.
Advanced Power Management
Microsoft has created a new feature
called "OnNow". This feature can start your computer in just a few seconds
rather than making you endure the long boot-up process. Once on, the system will
bring up your programs in the state they were in when the machine was last shut
down. "OnNow" will only work with computers that support the Advanced
Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI).
FAT32 Disk Management
I consider this to be one of the
major technical advances of this release. The Windows 98 File Allocation Table
controls the storage of files on your computer's hard drive. Using the new FAT32
routine, hard drives that are over two gigabytes can now be formatted as a
The new FAT32 routine also uses smaller clusters than the older FAT approach.
The payback to you is a more efficient use of the hard drive, which can result
in a significant increase in your available disk storage space. Also included in
the new operating system is a FAT32 conversion utility, which will "quickly and
safely" convert your hard drive from the older FAT routine to the new FAT32.
Digital Video Disk technology is the successor to
CD-ROM technology. Windows 98 fully supports this new industry standard. It will
allow DVD to deliver high-quality digital movies and sound directly to your
computer monitor or to your TV (through the new "fire wire").
You will be able to watch TV on your
computer monitor and search for your favorite TV programs with the built-in
Windows 98 Program Guide. You will also be able to watch television and HTML
content side by side. This means that networks like ESPN Sports in the US will
be able to deliver television programming which has real time statistics
alongside the actual sports broadcast.
Important New Operating System
This is the part we've all been waiting for - the BIG OS improvements.
But I'm sorry to have to disappoint you, there really aren't any. Most of the
features I have listed below I consider to be natural evolutions of the product.
Some of the other new features are just currently downloadable Microsoft
utilities now simply built directly into the operating system. Yawn...
Year 2000 Compliant
Why is this listed a Windows 98 feature?
Aren't all Microsoft operating systems already year 2000 compliant?
Fortunately for Windows 98 users the date dependent functions within the
operating system will be fully year 2000 compliant. But now we all have a new
worry, what about the other, older Microsoft products? I did manage to find one
product compliance listing below for Microsoft Office:
Using Microsoft Office Through the Year 2000 -- A look at
the year 2000 compatibility issues for Microsoft Office.
If you know about other Microsoft year 2000 resources (especially for the
operating systems) please post them on the General IT Forum. Thanks!
System File Checker
This new feature monitors the critical
Windows 98 system files. If any of these files are deleted, moved, or changed,
then the System File Checker restores them.
Another long overdue feature. This finally takes
the fear out of cleaning up and maintaining your hard drive. This new utility
removes any unnecessary files to free up precious space. The beauty is that the
Windows 98 Disk Cleanup utility can be configured to remove temporary Internet
files (cache), recycle bin files, downloaded program files, and ordinary
Many of us have downloaded a program called
RegClean from Microsoft to keep our Windows 95 Registry trouble free. The
Windows 98 Registry Checker is pretty much the same thing now built into the
operating system. It is simply a system maintenance utility that finds and fixes
registry problems at boot-up time. If it finds a serious problem, it will
restore the Registry from a backup copy, or it will fix the Registry if a backup
copy cannot be found.
This new Windows release mainly provides
more support for different vendor tape drives and the most recent back-up
hardware. Seagate Software actually wrote this utility, and it is now a much
more feature-rich program.
Running Tune-Up wizard will perform an
optimization check of your system This includes program performance checking,
hard disk problem diagnosis, and hard disk space utilization. Tune-Up wizard can
be scheduled to run on a regular basis.
This is the feature you will hear a lot about in
This new utility will connect your PC to the Microsoft Web site in order to
automatically download the latest patches, drivers and updates required by your
system. It will also allow you to revert back to a previous device driver or
system file by using the built-in uninstall option.
As a current IS Director, I am unsure if I will risk utilizing this
capability in our corporate environment. It sounds dangerous and unpredictable
to me! What is your opinion? Tell me on the General IT Forum.
What About Internet
Web interface integration is now a built-in part of Windows 98. This
brings features such as "single click" access to files and applications, icon
highlighting, forward and backward buttons, and a customizable Start menu right
to the desktop.
Having Internet Explorer 4.0 now merged with the operating system, the
following utilities are also right at your finger tips:
- Outlook Express
The new e-mail client and collaboration
Great for Internet conferencing.
A network enabled multimedia utility for streaming audio
listening and video viewing.
- FrontPage Express
A personal Web page editing tool.
Look out Netscape Navigator and Lotus Notes!
The installation procedure has been made more informative by
incorporating real time monitoring information which allows you at any point to
see what Windows 98 is doing. For those folks who are still using Windows 3.x,
several special utilities will be included in Windows 98 to assist with the big
Making the Leap!
So, do you think you will upgrade?
If you are buying a new personal computer with any of the latest
hardware advances, you will be required to have Windows 98 up and running. If
you have a recent vintage machine, you will want this new OS to really increase
your performance and hard drive space. If you consider yourself to be a low tech
computer user, you may like the new "hand holding" features of Windows 98. If
you play graphics intensive games, you will clearly want the multimedia power of
Windows 98. The rest of us in the herd will probably just follow right along.
Me? My bet is on Windows 2000. Full voice recognition, computer speech,
artificial intelligence, breakfast in bed...
I can't wait to see what three billion dollars of software research can