Tech Talk

July 6, 1998

July 13, 1998

July 20, 1998


Tech Week

It's been three weeks since Microsoft's much-touted Windows 98 upgrade hit store shelves, and the verdict is in: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Though Microsoft reports that Windows 98 fixes an estimated 3,000 bugs, consumers and PC manufacturers have been plagued with upgrade-related problems since its release, leading some consumers to label the upgrade a real disappointment. More than 500,000 copies of Windows 98 were sold in the first four days. Granted, Windows 95 was buggier, but it was also a major step forward, and though the official word from Microsoft is that tech support centers are not experiencing any more trouble calls than expected, computer makers have had to set up support sites of their own. Compaq, Dell, IBM, Gateway and Hewlett-Packard all have had to address the problems in some way. Gateway and Hewlett-Packard have added phone support centers to handle volume, while Compaq, Dell and IBM have added special sections to their respective Web sites to help customers deal with upgrade related problems. Most of the problems reported have occurred as a user attempts to upgrade a Windows 95 installation on an older computer. In many cases, older machines simply cannot support some Windows 98 features such as universal serial bus (USB), TV tuner cards or DVD, and users upgrading from a machine originally built to run Windows 95 or Windows 3.1 often will find that their systems lack sufficient memory and storage space. Problems with newer configurations are far less common, though reports have been published addressing conflicts between Windows 98 and the BIOS feature on certain machines. In such cases, this means that the machine won't be able to take advantage of some of the very features motivating users to upgrade in the first place. Users still thinking of buying the upgrade are advised to visit their PC manufacturer's support site to identify potential problems. As far as upgrades go, Windows 98 doesn't look like much -- the interface isn't exactly cutting edge, and NT is far more stable, but Window 98 will cost consumers just as much to purchase as Windows 95 did. So what does the Windows 98 upgrade actually improve? Probably the most obvious change comes in the way the desktop works. By using Internet Explorer, users can browse their computer the way they browse the World Wide Web. The Windows help feature has also gone HTML, with integrated access the Microsoft's help site. The new software ships with built-in support for USB, TV tuner cards, accelerated graphics ports and DVD. The system reportedly starts up and shuts down faster and loads applications quicker. One feature of the new software that hasn't been upgraded is the price. At $209 a pop for a full version and $109 for an upgrade, Microsoft is the one sure winner in this game.


July 6, 1998

July 13, 1998

July 20, 1998