To determine which Windows OS best suits your needs, you have to analyze what those needs really are. -- Part 6 of Get the Most Out of Win98

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

November 19, 2003

3 Min Read

Never have you had so many Windows operating systems to choose from. Windows 98 has been out for a couple of months. NT 4.0 is just hitting its stride (although it's so covered with service patches it resembles a walking mummy). And the due date for NT 5.0 looms ever closer.

Is it time to upgrade-and if so, which Windows OS is right for you? If you're a Win95 user, do you really need to upgrade to Win98 or is it just a new face on an old friend? Should you move to NT 4.0 now to pave the way for a transition to NT 5.0? If you're running NT 4.0, is there any turning back to Windows 9x? The answers depend on how you use your computer, whether switching would satisfy any pressing needs you may have and whether you can wait for NT 5.0.

Compared to Win95, Win98 is not a vastly new OS. It's really just a maintenance release to Win95, albeit a major one. In terms of appearance, the obvious change is the inclusion of the Internet Explorer 4.0 interface and integration of the Web browser with the Desktop. Although you can achieve this with Win95 by downloading IE 4.0, the combination of IE 4.0 and Win95 won't even approach the reliability and speed you'll achieve by upgrading to Win98.

Win98 offers many more enhancements that justify the upgrade, including support for USB, DVD, the new 32-bit PC Card (CardBus) standard, Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI), and WebTV for Windows. It's also more stable and more robust than Win95. You'll find some of these enhancements in Win95 OEM Service Release 2 or higher, but you won't get the 1,200 new device drivers, Windows Update (a Web-based service that scans your system and offers OS and device driver updates) or support for multiple displays (NT 4.0 offers this, too). Plug and Play, a feature you won't find in NT, has also been improved in Win98.

Maybe you're better off skipping Win98 and going right to NT 4.0. NT has steeper system requirements, which may slow down your apps. Setup and configuration are much more difficult with NT than with Win98. In addition, the licensing fees can be costly. But it offers superior security, scalability and more overall power. Do you need this right now, or can you hold out for NT 5.0? Our Upgrade Decision Tree will provide the answers.

Continue to: Interactive Decision Tree

Contributing editor Jim Boyce is the lead author of The Windows 98 User Manual (Que, 1998).

© 1998 Windows Magazine
September 1998, Page 167.

Return to: Get the Most Out of Win98

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