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Microsoft Windows 98 is an operating system and its predecessor was Windows 95. An operating system is the interface between you and the computer, which helps manage files and makes using your personal computer simple and easy. While this release was not as big as Windows 95, Windows 98 contains significant updates, fixes, and support for new peripherals. Features like improved protection and better support make Windows 98 a quality upgrade. A new type of file system called FAT32 is used to take advantage of hard disk space, while Windows 95 supported PnP (plug and play). Windows 98 built on that technology and detects devices even better then 95, which will greatly increase the ease of hardware installation. Bundled in the installation of Windows 98 you will get some new software such as Internet Explorer 4.0 and Microsoft Outlook. These additions help Windows 98 take a big step forward. For familiarity and ease of use, Windows 98 has been modeled to look more like Windows NT. A copy of Windows 98 can be obtained for around $100.00 - $200.00. An upgrade is also available, but you must already have Windows 3.1 or Windows 95 to use the upgrade CD, which costs between $80.00 and $100.00.
Before installing Microsoft Windows 98, it is important that the user make sure you meet the minimum system requirements. For better performance, you will want to exceed the minimum requirements. The system requirements for the installation of Windows 98 are as follows:
System Component What You Need
DOS version Minimum: DOS 3.31.
Recommended: DOS 5.0 or higher. DOS 4.0 was so buggy that you're really taking a chance installing Windows 98 over it.
Processor Minimum: 66 MHz 486DX2
Recommended: Pentium, Pentium MMX, or Pentium II. However, Pentium Pro systems do not run Windows 98 noticeably faster than other Pentiums running at the same clock speed. The Pentium Pros are optimized for pure 32-bit code (such as you find in Windows NT), and Windows 98 contains enough 16-bit code to prevent any significant speed increases.
Memory Minimum: 16MB.
Recommended: Windows 98 runs much better with 24MB of RAM. For best results, I recommend at least 32MB, with 64MB being the bottom line for the truly impatient.
Hard disk free space Minimum: The minimum amount of space required by Windows 98 Setup is 225MB.
Recommended: A full install of Windows 98 could use up as much as 400MB of hard disk space. (See the following Note box.) Setup may also require another 45-50MB for the backup copies of your system files, and Windows 98 will need 20MB or 30MB for its dynamic swap file.
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Video Minimum: VGA, 14-inch monitor.
Recommended: Super VGA, 17-inch monitor. Windows 98 enables you to open and work with many more applications at once than did Windows 3.x. So to maximize screen space, your video card and monitor should be capable of displaying 256 colors at 1024X768 resolution. If you plan on using Windows 98's multimedia features (such as video), a video card that can handle true color (16 million colors) and DirectX is a must. You need to install a second adapter to take advantage of Windows 98's multiple monitor support.
Peripherals Minimum: 3 1/2-inch high-density floppy drive, CD-ROM drive, and a mouse (Microsoft or compatible).
Recommended: If you plan on using The Microsoft Network, Microsoft Fax, HyperTerminal, or any other communications packages, you need a modem or a fax/modem. To take advantage of Windows 98's built-in sound support, you need a sound card and speakers. If you plan on using Windows 98's networking features, your system must have a network interface card installed.
The installation for Microsoft Windows 98 is rather simple; here are some helpful hints that can help you prepare for the installation.
• Your system's BIOS should not be any older than January 1994 because Windows 98 often seems to have trouble with any BIOS older than that.
• Your hard disk must have a DOS FAT (File Allocation Table) partition. Windows 98 does not recognize, and therefore cannot be installed onto, drives partitioned as NTFS (Windows NT File System) or HPFS (OS/2's High Performance File System).
• If your computer's boot drive is compressed, it must have at least 3MB of uncompressed space available. Windows 98 will work with disks that have been compressed with DoubleSpace, DriveSpace, Stacker 3.0 and 4.x, and SuperStor compression schemes.
• If you have the Windows 98 upgrade package, you must either have Windows 3.x installed on your system or have the original installation disks. If you have the full Windows 98 package, your system does not need to have an existing operating system.
To install a copy of Windows 98, you will need to create a partition on your hard disk. After creating the partition it is as easy as putting the Windows 98 CD in the CD-ROM drive and letting the computer boot off of the CD. Following the on-screen instructions is where you will set up a username and adjust settings such as the time zone and the date. During the installation, you will be required to restart the machine three times, which the installation CD will do automatically when required. After the third reboot, you are ready to begin using Windows 98.
The File System
In Microsoft Windows 98, the file system has been improved from FAT to FAT32.
FAT32 offers improved benefits such as saving disk space by storing dates more efficiently and allowing you to take advantage of larger disk drives. With FAT32, you can represent a larger disk drive and still have it represented by one drive letter, opposed to representing the same hard disk with multiple letters. This will make it easier to navigate your file structure and maintain a neat and organized file system. Another great feature of FAT32 is that you can upgrade from FAT without losing any information. It allows old FAT users to increase their disk space by completing the upgrade to FAT32 without the loss of your files and saved information. For added flexibility, Windows 98 includes a graphical FAT32 conversion utility, which can quickly and safely convert a hard drive from the original version of FAT to FAT32. However, a utility to revert back to FAT is not provided with Windows 98, but can be downloaded free from the internet. FDISK is a program that allows you to modify your partition information. When converting to FAT32, FDISK offers to enable FAT32 support only on drives over 512 MB. The cluster size used on all FAT partitions depends on the size of the drive. For the original version of FAT, default cluster sizes are those shown in the following table:
• 0 to 32 MB
• 32 to 63 MB
• 64 to 127 MB
• 128 to 255 MB
• 256 to 511 MB
• 512 to 1023 MB
• 1024 to 2048 MB Fat Cluster Size:
• 512 bytes
• 1 KB
• 2 KB
• 4 KB
• 8 KB
• 16 KB
• 32 KB
For FAT32, the default cluster sizes are shown in the following table:
• Smaller than 260 MB
• 260 MB to 8GB
• 8 GB to 16 GB
• 16 GB to 32 GB
• Greater than 32 GB Fat Cluster Size:
• 512 bytes
• 4 KB
• 8 KB
• 16 KB
• 32 KB
Like any operating system Windows 98 has a desktop, which is the area where the icons lie. This area has been improved and has a new look of the internet, which is known as Active desktop. The Windows 98 desktop environment is very similar to Windows 95; it is made up of icons representing different parts of the operating system. Below is a chart that describes the different types of desktop icons which can be found on the Windows 98 desktop.
Taskbar By default, the taskbar is located on the bottom edge of the desktop. You can click on the taskbar and drag it to other locations. The Start button, active program buttons, icons for quick access to programs, and the current time are located on the taskbar.
My Computer The My Computer icon provides access to the resources on your computer. You can access your drives and other peripherals by clicking on the My Computer icon. You can also access the Control Panel through My Computer.
Internet Explorer The Internet Explorer icon launches the Internet Explorer browser.
Network Neighborhood If you are working on a network, Network Neighborhood displays all of the computers on the network.
The Recycle Bin When you delete an object, Windows 98 sends it to the Recycle Bin. You can restore objects that are located in the Recycle Bin or you can permanently delete them.
My Briefcase My Briefcase is used to coordinate files between two computers.
Shortcut icon Icons with an arrow in the lower left corner are shortcut icons. Click on the icon for quick access to the object they represent (program, document, printer, and so on).
Program, Folder, and Document icons Program, folder, and document icons do not have an arrow in the lower left corner. They represent the actual object and provide direct access to the object.
The networking features in Windows 98 consist of high performance 32-Bit network architecture. The client software, printer sharing, network protocols, and network card drivers are all 32-Bit. Support for using multiple redirectors, protocols, and network card device drivers simultaneously has been added to assist in integrating the operating system into a diverse network environment. Industry standard connectivity and systems management solutions include TCP/IP, IPX, SNMP, and DMI. These protocols make Windows 98 ready to connect to virtually any network, including Novell NetWare. Close integration with Microsoft Windows NT Server was designed to support a powerful client/server solution. Network file/printer sharing is also available, and improved dial-up network support features make Windows 98 a great solution for personal computers on your home network.
Windows 98 includes Microsoft DirectX 5, a new set of graphics development API’s commonly used by game developers. DirectX 5 is also a great improvement in the development of graphical applications such as Internet Publishing and real-time communications. DirectX 5 is made up of the following components:
• DirectDraw (2-D Graphics)
• Direct3D (3-D Graphics)
• DirectSound (Sound-mixing and playback)
• DirectPlay (Internet multiplayer game connectivity)
• DirectInput (Joysticks and other input devices)
• DrawPrimitive (Direct3D extensions)
• DirectAnimation (Rich animation of Web pages)
DirectX 5 allows access to new hardware capabilities, including multi-monitor support. It also allows for rendering features such as anti-aliasing and anisotropic texture filtering. Two advantageous features gamers will enjoy are the optimized texture support and Force Feedback joystick support which will take gaming to a whole new level.
Microsoft Windows 98 allows the user to stay current with the latest version by implementing a built in update system. The Windows Update feature allows you to scan your computer to see if you are up-to-date with all of the latest patches and security fixes. This can be very helpful when trying to avoid contracting viruses and evading security risks. Windows Update is built into Internet Explorer, which is installed during the installation of Windows 98. Using the update utility is straightforward; it is just a matter of pressing the scan button and selecting the updates that are available for download. With the use of the update utility, it reduces the amount of time Microsoft will have to spend helping each user fix new problems. The user is able to update their personal computer without calling Microsoft’s support team.
Windows 98 has been known to contain its share of problems. Two commonly reported problems are:
1. Windows will not shut down
2. Windows will freeze and pop up a blue screen. Commonly know as the blue screen of death.
Like any piece of software, there will be problems and that is why it is important to stay current with all of the updates available.
In conclusion, Microsoft Windows 98 is a new operating system for the home user. It’s an improved version of Windows 95 and has many new features. The enhanced PnP support makes installing hardware as simple as possible, which makes this operating system great for the home user. With new technologies like DirectX 5, gaming has been taking to the next level. Since the release of Windows 98, Microsoft has released newer versions such as Windows 98SE, Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Each version is a step to bigger and better technologies.
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