Windows-98, Another Opening and SHow

Ray Levasseur (c) July 19, 1998

It's Here, Deal With It

I confess! I have not bought my own copy of Windows-98 yet. I'm still rummaging through the 1000's of pages of Windows-95 hints and secrets. Actually I never mastered the many secrets of Windows 3.1, and then along came 95. The Windows-95 roll out brought with it a lot of hype and media coverage. The evening news showed people queued up for blocks waiting for their favorite computer store to open so that they could be among the first owners of the totally revamped Microsoft operating system.

I finally bought 95 after selling my 485 machine in favor of a newer Pentium model. I have to admit after getting over learning a totally new windows metaphor, I grew to like 95 quite a lot. SO OK, many claim that Microsoft ripped off what Apple had from the beginning, but since I had never sat behind the keyboard of an Apple machine, this was all I was accustomed to. And yes, the newer applications designed for Windows 95 were fatter, more bloated; requiring more memory, disk space and horsepower.

I was quite happy with Microsoft Word 2.0 and Excel 4.0, which were old 16 bit applications. They did everything I ever needed a spreadsheet and word processor to do, and more. At first the many resource hogging wizards that they added to the 95 and 97 versions annoyed me, but I find myself using them to get the basic job done. I'll then go in and edit what the wizard creates and make it more to my liking.

A few months ago I finally bit the big one and purchased a newer and faster Pentium II, a rather frisky and muscular 300mhz box with 512k cache, 64meg ram, 6.5 gig disk, 4 meg vram video card and 32x cd/rom. It came with Windows-95 B, which utilizes a 32 bit file structure, plus adding some patches to fix the sins of the original version of 95. It's ok, but I do not like, therefore do not use active there! I also went out and purchased Office-97 Professional, Visual Basic 5.0 Professional at a computer show, so I have all the basic disk hogging stuff I need for a while. The only problem with the new machine is that some of my older 16 bit applications will not run properly; usually resulting in the blue screen of death. I can live with that for now; well except a few of my favorite games, like Monty Python's "Total Waste of Time" and "Holy Grail" just refuse to run.

Soon To Be Legacy

Yesterday I made a run over to Micro Center in Cambridge, just for something to do. I had gone to Harvard Square to absorb some weirdness, shop around and people watch from a sidewalk cafe. So I walked over to my favorite computer emporium to merely window shop. Sigh! In one display area sat the machine I recently purchased, for $500 less than my purchase price a few months ago, The salesman did warn me that prices would drop through the floor in 2-4 months if I wanted to wait. But, Oh no! on that fateful day, I just "had" to have that new PC. I've learned the hard way, that you make your decision, lay your money on the counter, wheel out your purchase....and never look back. I did get a very good deal (price/performance) on the Power Spec box I bought, just felt a bit bummed that a new 350mhz with 11.5 gig was the same price I paid for mine not that long ago.

As I wandered around the store (half to get out of the hot July sun) I noticed that many items were "Windows-98" plug-n-pray ready. The Windows-95 and "97" stuff is taking a back seat to yet another round of "The latest and greatest." Office-97 does everything and 100 times more than I will ever require an office suite to do. I DO like Access, Excel and Word 97 a lot, despite the 100's of meg they took to fully install. But who cares, I have "GIGS" to spare. Perhaps that's what the first settlers felt when they came to this country, "WOW! lookit the limitless expanses of space. We can breed like flies, throw our garbage anywhere, build cities and pave this sucker into oblivion." Of course today, there is much decay, congestion, overcrowding in some areas, as well as a growing laundry list of problems. Every new application I install wants to lay claim to 150-300 meg of disk space, especially those fancy new games.

Be The First Kid On Your Block

I was up in Maine last weekend visiting friends at their Summer home. One couple who was also there had their two kids with them. Now here's the scary part; their 11 year old son kept going on and on about how he desperately "needed" Windows-98. Since my roommie is a certified engineer on many network and other products, he's sort of a guru in many areas. He asked their son, "and why do you NEED" Windows-98?" The kid shrugged, "because everything runs better." The boy doesn't even have a machine that can capitalize on whatever benefits 98 can offer.

The kids are our future, and are the first ones running out to pick up the newest and best. I fess up, 20-30 years ago I would have been fighting for first place in line at my local computer store also, but today I'm much older, a tad bit wiser and have developed immunity to commercialistic hype. My motto is, "wait and see." I lived through the gasoline shortages during the Arab oil embargo, plus other manufactured crises. I doubt that there will be a worldwide shortage of Windows-98 copies, so when I feel darn "good and ready" I will probably buy a copy. "Resistance is futile, I will be assimilated," eventually. This process could be accelerated if the Wintel consortium decided to make changes that would require all PC owners on the planet to "upgrade or else." I would hope they are not that greedy or "stupid", plus it would be bad business.

So hey Bill, hey Bunny People; If you're listening, just give me some more time to assimilate all the new stuff you're shoveling into the market place. Don't worry, eventually I'll break down, repent and buy Windows-98. At some point further out in time, I'll most likely buy a newer box with whatever state of the art processor the Bunny People at Intel dream up.

For now, I do not feel impoverished. Windows-95 is working just fine and dandy for me today. My "soon to be old and arthritic" Intel Pentium-II 300mhz machine is running like a champ at whiplash speed.

I'll wind this up with a rather poor analogy. When VCR's were first showing up in department stores, hardly any households could afford them. Beta was the leader, or at least all I ever saw. Along comes VHS; then the war began. The VHS machines were cheaper and it seemed there were many more titles available on VHS, at least on the East Coast. There were already many more "devoted" Beta owners, who claimed their chosen format ran circles around VHS. Guess which format I finally bought in 1981, VHS. And that's the format I have stuck with, or been stuck with since day one. It's probably the same with Mac vs Windows. I do have to hand it to Microsoft and Intel as they have successfully won the war (for now) with slick advertising, promotions, and blanket bombings of product availability. Sure, I do not particularly like "monopolies" or mega-greed, but as fate would have it, have pitched my tent in the Wintel camp. Time will tell........

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Cheers, Ray