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
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
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
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
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.