CeePrompt! Computer Connection 

Originally published Monday, June 29, 1998 

Route 95 still a good road

Are you tired of reading about Windows 98 yet? While it's not every day that a new operating
system rolls out, I really felt I'd written plenty on this topic over the past few months. But last
Thursday's frenetic release of the new operating system and the surrounding fanfare has fueled anew
many questions.

Images of people standing in line at midnight, clamoring for the first copies of the new software, fed on our insecurities and enhanced an overwhelming sense of being left behind. "What do they know that I don't?" people asked frantically.

Foremost on the minds of PC users is the obvious question: Should I upgrade to Windows 98? The answer is equally simple: It depends. This next step in the evolution of the Windows system software is clearly an improvement over Windows 95, but it's certainly not worth standing in line at midnight
just to get the first copy. In fact, if you're pleased with your present system performance under
Windows 95, I probably wouldn't recommend a Win 98 upgrade at all.

If, however, you are consistently experiencing system crashes, error messages, or device driver
problems, then a fresh operating system would be in order. The original Windows 95 operating
system contained many known glitches and bugs that were addressed and fixed by Microsoft in a
series of service packs that have been released over the last three years. While these "fixes" have
been readily available from Microsoft, you'd have to take the initiative on your own to download
each service release.

Windows 98 is the cleaned-up version of Windows 95 that embodies all the fixes that have taken
place since the original Windows 95 release. Additionally there are a host of new, built-in utilities that can assist in troubleshooting those cantankerous problems that bog down your PC.

The new FAT32 conversion utility in Windows 98 is another good reason for the upgrade if you're
running low on hard disk space. FAT (File Allocation Table) is part of the filing system that
determines whether disk clusters are free or allocated to a file.

Converting from Windows 95-based FAT16 to FAT32 makes more efficient use of existing disk
space, thereby freeing up precious hard disk real estate. I gained almost 400MB of free disk space
on my system under Windows 98 when I ran the FAT32 conversion utility.

Additionally, if you're using advanced hardware devices such as DVD (Digital Video Discs) or USB
(Universal Serial Bus) peripherals, then Windows 98 is a must since it supports these new
technologies. DVD is an optical storage medium with improved capacity and bandwidth over the
CD that is geared primarily toward entertainment.

While the documentation may read otherwise, Windows 98 requires lots of muscle and runs best on
newer systems that have plenty of CPU power, memory and available disk space. Older 486 and
Pentium-based systems running at 100Mhz speed or less probably won't experience the
improvement in speed and performance that newer systems will enjoy.

I found this to be true when I installed Win98 on a 486DX4 with 16MB RAM. The PC runs just
fine, but I didn't notice any great improvements in speed as I did when I installed the upgrade on a
Pentium 200 with 64MB RAM. Figure, as a minimum, that Pentium 200+ systems with at least
32MB RAM will find the most benefit from a Win98 upgrade.

The highly touted and litigious integration of the Internet Explorer into Windows 98 is overrated and
the worst of all reasons to upgrade. Enabling the Active Desktop and Channels slows down your
system and is mostly fluff. If you're interested in these features, you can access them already by
simply installing Internet Explorer 4.01. It's free and doesn't require a complete overhaul of your
operating system.

If you're buying a new PC, you should absolutely get the latest operating system available. In fact,
soon you'll be hard-pressed to find a new computer system around that doesn't have Windows 98
already installed, unless you're a corporate user.

This upgrade will probably be the last incarnation of the Windows 9x family, since the next major
upgrade will be a consumer version of Windows NT, Microsoft's "New Technology" operating
system software designed for high-end corporate networks.

Microsoft launched Windows 98 Thursday with the following theme: "Route 98: Another milestone
on the computing highway."

Unless it's broken or you simply want the latest and greatest, however, I think you can still get there
from here on Route 95.

Cathi Schuler owns a computer literacy training/consulting company, Cee Prompt! She is a co-author of computer textbooks and can be reached by e-mail at cschuler@uop.edu or cschuler@ceeprompt.com or by mail c/o The Record, P.O. Box 900, Stockton, CA 95201. She is on the Internet at: http://www.ceeprompt.com. Click here for past archived columns.
Return to Article Index | Return to C:\> CeePrompt's Home Page
©1998 The Stockton Record, Page Design and Layout by CeePrompt!