SHCC WYSIWYG Article from September 1998

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This article appeared in the September 1998 WYSIWYG newsletter.

Windows 98 Experience

by Rick Schummer

This month's meeting is promising to be an exciting one since we have Microsoft presenting Windows 98, their latest Operating System.  Back in May, my column discussed some of the new features that would be available.  So what is the real experience of Windows 98 now that it has been officially released and in the hands of consumers for 2 months?  This month I'm going to discuss the installation experience and some of the fun and not so fun things that come along with "living on the edge".  It will not be a feature review by any means.  I'm leaving this up to the Microsoft presenters.

I have installed 2 separate upgrades.  The first was an actual upgrade from Windows 95.  The installation went smooth as silk, literally.  It took 45 minutes from the time I cracked the package open to running it live.  This included converting the file system from FAT16 to FAT32.  The second install was an upgrade to a fresh hard drive.  I needed to expand my drive since the 2GB drive I previously used was packed to the rim.  The installation was fast since it took 35 minutes.  I also installed the Plus!  98 package on each system as well, which took additional time.  Upgrading an Operating System can be a scary experience the first time through, but frankly you have little to worry about.  I have not heard a single "upgrade disaster" story since the product was released.  This is not a guarantee that you will have a perfect experience, but it is likely that things will go well.  This is also the first Microsoft OS that has an uninstall option, which means you can go back to Windows 95 if you are not happy.  I'm not sure if this works upgrading from Windows 3.x.

The first thing you should know is that things do not radically change like they did when you moved from Windows 3.x to Windows 95.  I like a number of the new features like the toolbars on the taskbar and the faster application start-up.  I think FAT32 is worth the price of admission.  My 2 GB drive was packed (less than 75 MB free).  I loaded everything and more on the new 4GB drive and still have 2.2GB free.  More stuff on the drive and an additional 200MB free.  This is like getting a second drive (although small drive) free.

I like the Maintenance Wizard that helps maintain the system.  This helps schedule routines that I had to remind myself to do like defrag my drive, scan drives, etc.  I love the Disk Cleanup routine which deletes temporary files from your drive.  This saves me plenty of time and does it automatically.  This is a cool feature.  The registry scanner and cleanup finally protects average Joe Consumer from a corrupt registry completely disabling a PC.  The registry is a database with various settings used by Windows and application software.  If this gets hosed, you are in deep trouble.  Windows 98 takes much of the danger away and makes plenty of backups.

I want to reassure those who follow conspiracy theories, I have loaded both Internet Explorer 4 and Netscape Communicator 4, and they both work well.  They even work at the same time.  For those individuals who love Solitaire, it is still included.  For those people who love the Pinball that came with Plus!  95, your out of luck, it does not come with Plus! 98.  The experience has not been all peaches and cream.  My notebook would not shut down completely until I found a registry setting to disable the new power management settings for shut down.  This problem has been an issue for notebooks, not for desktop systems.  I've also had some problems with getting my scanner to work with the software that worked fine under Windows 95 (maybe they didn't fix that scanner issue that crashed Bill Gates's demo).  The pre-release hoopla seemed to indicate that the start-up and shutdown would be significantly faster.  My experience has been that the start-up is slightly faster and the shutdown is a little faster.  I was really hoping for a performance boost on the start-up.  Other than that things have been good.

So the question still exists, should you upgrade to Windows 98?  This is something people will have to decide for themselves.  Fortunately you will have an excellent opportunity to see Windows 98 live at the Sterling Heights Computer Club on September 1, 1998.  If you are still on the fence making this decision, there will be no better opportunity to gather information to make this decision easier.

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