by January 4, 1998 0 comments
  Windows
98 Beta 3
: Integrated IE 4, new
system tools including a FAT32 one-way converter,
system diagnostic utilities, and multimedia
enhancements. Allows upgrade from Windows 3.x. An
enhanced version of Windows 95 with tighter
integration among components and a host of new
tools. Some modules are still incomplete.
Price:
Not applicable Mfr & Vendor:
Microsoft Corporation, Paharpur Business Centre,
21 Nehru Place, New Delhi 110019. Fax: 6474714
Tel: 6460694, 6460767

The next incarnation
of Windows desktop family nears completion with this
latest beta release. There were some major changes
promised for this release, many of which seem to have
been delivered.

One of the most important
promised features was the ability to upgrade to Win 98
from a Win 3.x system. This was not possible from earlier
betas as you needed to have Win 95 installed for
upgrading. We installed a fresh copy of Windows for
Workgroup 3.11 over MS-DOS 6.22. After that we ran the
Install program from within Program Manager. It ran
without a hitch.

The install process
differs only slightly from Win 95 one. All dialog boxes
appear on the right of a vertical status bar which
informs you about the step being taken. The only new
dialog box in the install process was one to choose
country for Internet Explorer Channels. There are lot of
new programs and accessories to choose from in custom
installation. The communications section has a dial-up
server, infrared drivers, and support for Virtual Private
Networks. The Desktop Themes add-on from MS Plus! has
been moved into Win 98. A new Internet Tools section has
all the options you get with IE 4. The other new options
include multi-language support, a DVD player, a ShockWave
player, and a TV viewer.

After the usual round of
restarts, Win 98 starts with a multimedia tour of its
features. This has a new section for Win 3.x users who
are upgrading directly to Win 98. One major change we
noticed was that though Windows Web update was installed,
the Active Desktop was not turned on by default. This is
probably due to the number of complaints Microsoft had
received about systems slowing down or crashing because
of this feature.

Win
98 tidbits

Win 98 no longer
shows the “Starting Windows 98…”
message with a two second delay for pressing F8
to go to the boot menu. Also, we could not find
any option to turn this back on. However, help
files do mention that this message appears. And
you can press F8 to get to the menu before Win 98
splash screen comes up.

  • The FAT32
    converter informs you that it will take a
    few hours to complete the task. It then
    boots into DOS mode and runs the
    converter which took less than two
    minutes to complete. However, after Win
    98 started up again, it went through an
    extensive Defrag, which did take some
    time. Note that there is no program to
    reverse this process unless you use FDISK
    and lose all your data.
  • Win 98 setup
    process requires one more boot than Win
    95. This is because the setup now
    identifies and installs legacy devices as
    part of the install. This requires one
    more restart.
  • Certain
    programs are still incomplete. For
    example, the Version Conflict Manager tool
    doesn’t have a complete interface as
    yet.
  • Mac users
    have a new reason to gloat. A new button
    in every file-related common dialog box
    takes you directly to your desktop, just
    like the ones in Macs.
  • The internal
    build number of Win 98 is 4.10.1650 while
    that of Win 95 OSR2 is 4.00.1111. The
    build numbers for IE (4.01) are identical
    (4.04.72.2106.8). Does that mean Win 98
    is actually Win 95.1?
  • Win 98
    creates a much better startup disk than
    Win 95. It contains generic real mode
    drivers for all types of CD-ROM drives,
    and displays a boot menu for choosing the
    correct one. It then creates a RAM disk,
    to which it extracts all DOS mode tools
    like SYS, FDISK, FORMAT, and others. It
    also has a new CAB file extractor to
    simplify extracting single files from the
    installation CD-ROM.
 

Overall, Win 98
looks like Win 95 plus Internet Explorer 4.x installed.
However, there are a few additional features that just
might make the upgrade to Win 98 worthwhile. It comes
with a number of new system tools that can really
optimize your system. One of the most awaited ones being
the FAT16 to FAT32 converter. This utility optimizes disk
storage by making all clusters on your hard disk 4 kB in
size. And although it warns you that the process might
take a few hours, we were able to complete it in less
than an hour. The System Information tool is an easy to
use alternative for the device manager. However, this not
only shows you the hardware devices installed, but also
software modules loaded and other details. A new System
File Checker scans your hard disk for missing or
corrupted files, and repairs or re-installs them
automatically. We deleted a few important files from
Windows and system folders. When we ran the file checker,
it found that these files were missing, and restored them
from the CD-ROM. The final version promises to
automatically check for system integrity on boot, and
offers to restore files when apps are run with some files
missing.

Is Win 98 worth the
upgrade? To answer that, we’ll have to wait for the
final release. Many additional components are available
right now for download at the Microsoft Web site for use
with Win 95. OSR2 gives you an option of FAT32, albeit
without the conversion tool (although third-party
solutions do exist). IE 4.x on Win 95 gives you almost
all the desktop enhancements available right now. Other
system tools that you get are available from other
vendors for the Win 95 platform. If you regularly keep
your system and utilities updated or have been using the PC
Quest
CD-ROMs, you already have many of these.
However, if you do want all these in one integrated
package or haven’t upgraded to Win 95/IE 4 yet, then
Windows 98 seems to be the right thing to go in for.

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