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June 1998


Win98 Upgrade - Win, Lose Or Draw

by Gill Boyd

Do you feel lucky or are you waiting for a yet to be determined NT in the next Millennium?

Will you upgrade to Windows 98? Do you want, or need to? What will you gain? Do you have the hardware to handle it?

Everything has a beginning, middle and end. Win98 is said to be the last 16 bit / 32 bit Windows, referred to as Windows 9x. Interesting point, we run a 16-bit version of Windows, whether Win 3.X or Win95 X for reasons of backward compatibility.

16 Bit, 32 Bit – Our 64 Bit future?

Here’s the deal, we have a 16 Bit operating system on a 32 bit processor. We’re looking @ a 32 Bit Operating system growing into, a hopeful 64-bit operating system to run on a possible 64-bit processor in late 1999 to early 2001. Can Microsoft deliver a 64-bit NT operating system in time for a 64-bit Intel processor? We’ll see! This will equate to the user as being able to process more information, faster and more reliably with less down time. To stay with the obvious options @ hand, look into the past, present and future.

The Past

New PC’s have always shipped with the current predominant operating system, a flavor of Windows from Microsoft since Windows 3.0. This was the current predominant operating system. As of June 23, 1998, what operating system do you think PC’s will ship? History tells us Windows. Oh, you think the Justice Dept. will make that decision for Microsoft? Let’s add more info to the equation of Windows Past, Present and Future.

There are currently three main major flavors of Win95 on PC’s, each with subtle differences made along the way as refinement’s occurred. Two of these 3 types of Windows 95 are still available. There’s the “Retail Win95 A”, on shelves everywhere sold as an upgrade on disk and CD ROM, virtually unchanged since its release over 2 years ago in Sept. 1995. Remember those advance sales @ Midnight? Crazy! Yes, present company included. On location @ the old Egghead on Westheimer, for this historical perspective of course.

“Retail Win95 A” updates available on Microsoft’s Web Page culminated into Service Release 1 (SR-1). Also available @ one time by ordering the “Win95 SR-1” CD. By The Way, “Win95 A Retail” allowed us to call Microsoft direct for tech Support, but that’s another story in its self! Then we have the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) version(s) of Windows 95. Tech Support on “Win95 OEM”, call the OEM, not Microsoft! Isn’t that special?

“Win95 OEM”, that’s where the excitement and all the action exists! Equate “Win95 OEM” with new PC purchases. How to qualify for Win95 OEM purchase? Note: Buy a new hard drive or a new motherboard & processor to qualify for a purchase of “Win95 OEM”. Must be on same invoice! No, none of us own a copy of Windows. We have a license to use it! Encouraging? Just maintain perspective. Microsoft would like to get us on the monthly installment basis over the Net. Think not, they’re doing it with other Microsoft applications now. Even Egghead still exists, but only on the Net.

The Present, of Recent History

On the OEM front, we‘ve had several flavors of “Win95 OEM” releases – Win95 SR-1, Win95 SR-2, Win95 SR-2.1 with USB support and now, “Win95 OEM C”. Its purpose, an opportunity to quietly slip Win98 key components into the market place on thousands of new PC’s’’ before Win98 actually ships. Why stop the release of Win98 when key questionable components are already shipping, already installed and already being used by thousands of satisfied customers? Others in Houston have shared this same thought.

What does this mean to “Used Abused Upgrade-aholics & us? Confused? You’re not alone! We meet every Wed. from 1-3 pm. We call ourselves the “How To Build Or Buy A PC” SIG. We’re hooked on upgrades, we admit it.

If you already own “Retail Win95 A”, yes, by all means upgrade! If however, you own”Win95 OEM B or C” chances are, you’ll probably have most of Win98 any way. The real question may be not if you upgrade to Win98 but why and how you choose to upgrade. Why buy Retail Win98 when you may be able to get a package deal by purchasing a peripheral and having Retail Win98 thrown in the deal. USB is becoming common place in the stores. Chances are, if your Pentium is 1.5 years or older, you have no USB ports; new PC’s, yes.

Other questions

What’s our real purpose and intentions for upgrading to Win98? Do you have clients requiring tech support? Are you purchasing a new peripheral requiring Win98? Or are you after bragging rights? Maybe you’re just curious? Why bother learning something old, when you may need or want to learn something new. We’ll see a proliferation of new TV Tuner cards. Remember, the WaveTop Technology we saw at the HAL-PC General Meeting Show. WaveTop Technology is built into Win98 and we heard about it first!

Personally, I want to have my cake and eat it too! Do I need Win98 – No! But I’ll go for it anyway. People buy new PC’s requiring tech support versed in their respective feeding and care. Win98 will have a little more of everything new and a little less of the past. We’re coming to the end of an era with Win98.

There comes a time when we have to break ranks with backward compatibility of the past. Now appears to be such a time as we move to an NT world. Yes, NT, New Technology maybe? The next millennium, probably. What was that about Unix & Motif or X Windows as the case may be? Something about the best operating system money can’t buy? Something to do with commercial viability and customer support? We need a Unix Technology Presentation at the HAL-PC General Meeting!

Where do we go from here?

Win98, NT Workstation, voila a few Registry Keys changed and we have NT Server! Or maybe the future of Windows will lead us to an NT for the masses like NT Personal Edition? Windows 98 is the Windows for the masses, for now. Wonder if this will be the push necessary to make Unix / Motif more desirable to the masses?

Does your brain hurt from such decisions? Knowledge is power only when acted upon. Go to the SIG’s at HAL-PC, especially the “Win95” and “How To Build Or Buy A PC” to expand your knowledge base. Windows 98 promises to be more fun, make us more productive by being more stable and run faster in part due to advanced file defragmentation and file placement on our hard drives. More new Device Driver support for new features just coming into mainstream usage due to Win98 availability. Better support for USB, DVD, TV Tuner Cards and everything will have a “Net” look and feel, currently known as IE 4.01. Is it time for a new PC yet? Remember: Results may vary depending upon driver habits and road conditions. Check those PC ’98 specs and Enjoy!

Gill Boyd, was HAL-PC’s VP of Programs for 3 years and SIG Leader of the BuildOrBuy Group. He can be reached @

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Web Development, Gill Boyd & Team - Published & Posted For June 1998; Revised on BuildOrBuy News Archive 02/02/2003