CeePrompt! Computer Connection

Jury's still out on Windows 95

by Cathi Schuler

"What say ye, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, after two weeks of deliberation...thumbs up or thumbs down to Windows 95?" After scanning and reviewing over 2,000 Internet newsgroup postings and online bulletin boards during the last 10 days, I find that no verdict has been reached. The jury is deadlocked. Comments from Win95 converts across the country range from serious to sarcastic and seem to reflect more problems than praise, so far.

To some degree this is to be expected when using the Internet and bulletin board postings as survey tools since these venues are, by design, discussion forums for problem solving and idea exchange. Though maybe not a reflection of all Win95 users, there have been plenty of healthy and heated online discussions since Windows 95 debuted August 24th, some pro but more con.

User complaints are very diverse, but the most serious I noted were setup failures, system crashes upon booting, device driver conflicts and fatal exception errors. Many users reported setup problems with the CD-ROM version of Windows 95. Win95 either wouldn't properly detect a CD-ROM drive, or would insist on defaulting to the A: drive, even after the user chose CD-ROM installation. Additionally with the CD-ROM version some users couldn't get past the "updating boot sector" setup screen without freezing.

Conflicts with printers, sound cards, video cards and CD-ROM drives were to be expected and comprise a large portion of the complaints. These peripheral devices are controlled by device drivers which were designed for the Windows 3.11 environment and may need to be updated to function in the new operating system.

Plenty of system crashes upon booting were reported as well as "fatal exception" errors during operation. These seem to be the new breed of General Protection Faults that occur unexpectedly when trying to execute various commands. The operation terminates and a re-boot is the only short-term cure.

Postive comments and feedback were sprinkled throughout the discussion groups and those who found success with Win95 were zealous in their applause for system stability and a noticeable improvement in speed. Praise was heaped on the new 32-bit dial-up networking, allowing much faster surfing throughout the Internet, when used with 32-bit software. I spoke with a techie-type who thought this was the strongest feature of Windows 95. He didn't seem too concerned, however, that his CD-ROM drive no longer worked.

On the lighter side, their were plenty of spoofs and creative press releases posted to the Internet. One article credited Windows 95 with halting nuclear testing in France and linked the reverse of the decline of the peso in Mexico to sales of Win95. Another user reported getting better gas mileage and folks with too much time on their hands debated alternative Rolling Stones songs for the promotional campaign. An outbreak of "Winfluenza late-95" was reported striking "naive computer users, particularly those unduly susceptible to media influence and hyperbole".

The following newsgroups pertain specifically to Windows 95 and can be freely subscribed to through the major online services or through your Internet provider: comp.os.ms-windows.win95.setup is a forum for questions and problems regarding upgrading, setup and configuring Windows 95. comp.os.ms-windows.win95.misc offers discussion on all other Windows 95 topics. A complete listing of all the Microsoft Windows usenet newsgroups is updated and posted weekly as ms-windows/newsgrp.guide

Windows 95 is currently on sale for approximately $89. It comes in a CD-ROM version, or as 13 floppy diskettes for installation. A complete installation requires 55MB of hard disk space a and minimum of 4 MB of memory (8MB recommended). Fear not, Microsoft will eventually weed-out the bugs from this new product and Windows 95 will assume its rightful place as the premier operating system of choice. But I think I'll wait just a bit before migrating to Win95. After all, I'm already getting pretty good gas mileage.

Feedback? E-Mail cschuler@ceeprompt.com

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