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The Battle of Windows 98

Thao Mong Le

Windows 98 can be defined as an integration software package of Internet Explorer 4.0 into Windows 95. In this column, I would like to share with you some thoughts of Windows 98 that I learnt it from the Windows 98, lastest Beta version. I also share with you some thoughts about the battle between Microsoft and Department of Justice.

It is obvious that Windows 98 is Microsoft's masterstroke in its attempt to gut Netscape's browser market share. You still be able to run Navigator under Windows 98, but it may cause some errors because of difference of Java languages used to develop Windows 98 and Navigator (Microsoft used its own modified Java language to develop Windows 98, while Netscape used the original SUN Java language to develop its browser product). For the time being, no error evidence is provided yet since the final Windows 98 version will not be able to users until 6/25/98.

In terms of Microsoft's overall strategy, the integration of Internet Explorer 4.0 into Windows 98 is the most important part. This integration provides some significant features for Windows 98 over Windows 95. Some of these are as folows:

. Windows 98 lets you jump onto the Web without bringing up a browser. In general, it lets you enter the Internet more easily, provides for more efficient data storage and starts up frequently used programs more quickly. Internet access via ISDN and 56K modems is potentially much faster in Win98.

. Windows 98 comes with Outlook Express, a part of Internet Explorer 4.0 --which supports POP3, SMTP and IMAP4--is the replacement for IE3's Internet Mail and News.

. With the support of Internet Explorer 4.0, Windows 98 provides the Personal Web Server (PWS) application, which is good for a small Intranet with no need a dedicated server. That means you can use it as a staging server to test your designed Web before promoting them to your live server.

. Windows 98's FrontPage Express feature, a "baby" version of Microsoft's FrontPage 97, is good for WYSIWYG or source editing HTML documents.

But to many users who don't care about the Web or want to stick with the other Web browsers, Windows 98 is significant for other reasons.

. Not like WIndows 95 and Windows NT, which were designed for PC home users and business users respectively, Windows 98 was marketed as an operating system for both home users and business users.

. Windows 98 solves more than 3,000 problems in Windows 95! It now allows you to take less time to start up and shut down our PC.

. Windows 98 allows us to use two monitors or more at once. It enables you to plug up to eight monitors into your PC and use them all as a single desktop. For each monitor, we need one standard video card and the available PC slot.

. Windows 98 makes your PC run faster than their Windows 95 counterparts. Windows 98 lets you automate ScanDisk, get rid of extraneous files or defragment hard drives.

. Win98 includes a new feature, which significantly improves access speed to diskette drives.

. Windows 98 applied some common sense to the SYSTEM.INI and WIN.INI files. They're outlined Registry-style, so that instead of paging through a gazillion lines of code to find the one you want, you just have to click the plus sign to expand a particular heading. You can disable items individually with the Startup tab.

. The Accessibility features in Windows 98 are a bit more, well, accessible than their Windows 95 counterparts. Accessibility in Win98 provides the steps you through the process of turning on the Accessibility features you want.

. Windows 98 sports a new, improved Kodak/Wang Imaging utility. The utility is a TWAIN32-compliant applet designed to handle graphics imported by digital cameras and scanners. It said that it supports TIFF, Fax (AWD), Windows Bitmap, JPG, PCX, XIF, GIF and WIFF file formats.

. Windows 98 provide the Task Scheduler feature that is a handy utility called the Microsoft System Agent. Using System Agent you can set your PC to automatically launch certain programs at specific times and days. It was good for routine disk-maintenance tasks like running ScanDisk or defragging.

. Windows 98 provides NetMeeting, an all-in-one intranet and Internet communications applet. It supports application and Clipboard sharing among two or more people, whiteboard, chat, file transfer, videoconferencing, Internet phone calls, etc.

The Justice Department is charging Microsoft with violating a court-ordered consent decree the company signed in 1995. That agreement prevents the company from tying the shipment of its software applications to the licensing of Windows, but does not prohibit the company from integrating new technology into Windows. Still, the DOJ says that Internet Explorer and Windows 95 are clearly separate products, and that Microsoft is shutting out other browsers by forcing PC makers to ship Internet Explorer with Windows machines.

The US Justice Department believes that Microsoft is abusing its near-monopoly in PC operating systems to grind up competition in other markets. In the long run, consumers will be harmed, because there will be less competition and fewer choices. The Justice Department wants Microsoft to remove Explorer from Windows 98 and offer it separately. If that's not possible Microsoft should be required to include a copy of Netscape in Windows and give it equal billing with Explorer.

The Justice Department also complains about deals that Microsoft advertised a number of vendors by adding a list of a number of Web sites or Internet service providers tinWindows 98. In return, these vendors will put the Microsoft icons being before the eyes of millions of Windows users. The Justice Department said that this was another monopolistic abuse. Microsoft says it's stopped the promotion requirements, but it doesn't concede there was anything wrong with them. Microsoft will not remove the list.

It is interesting if we can continue to discuss this "war" on our forum to allow us to learn more about Windows 98. Note that, you probably don't need to upgrade Windows 98 if you're already using Windows 95.

Thao Mong Le
[email protected]

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