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Windows 98 (Beta 3)

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PCQ Bureau
New Update
  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
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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.

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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.

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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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