New Version of Windows 98

Last month Microsoft released an update to Windows 98. Dubbed Windows 98 Second Edition, this update adds several new features and a few bug fixes, including the Windows 98 Year 2000 Update patch.

The Internet Is Everywhere

The main feature additions are found in Windows 98's Internet software. Second Edition includes Microsoft's new Internet Explorer 5 browser, along with its e-mail client software, Outlook Express 5. This new version of Internet Explorer adds support for newer web standards, along with neat features such as the ability to automatically fill out an online form with your name and address.

Internet Connection Sharing

Second Edition also includes Microsoft's new Internet Connection Sharing software. ICS allows one computer to dial up to the Internet, and lets other PCs share that connection using a network. ICS works with all the new types of high speed Internet connections, including standard 56k modems, cable modems, and DSL. Even better, the only PC that needs to be running Second Edition is the PC running ICS. Other PCs can be Windows 95, Windows for Workgroups, Macintosh, OS/2, or other operating systems. In fact, Microsoft appears to be aggressively promoting Second Edition and ICS as a reason to network existing PCs in your home. This would allow all your PCs to access the Internet simultaneously.

Better Driver Support For New Hardware

Windows 98 Second Edition also includes expanded hardware and software support. Microsoft bundles drivers for lots of new hardware released during the past year, including USB devices such as modems and scanners, and IEEE 1394 (FireWire) devices such as digital video cameras and newer storage devices. Also included are the year 2000 bug fixes for Windows 98, although they are still available free from Microsoft for users with the original Windows 98. Microsoft's DirectX gaming software also receives an update.

Upgrading To Second Edition

The Windows 98 Second Edition Upgrade is available to users of Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 for the same cost as the previous upgrade, about $110. Users with Windows 98 can upgrade to Second Edition for around $25, including shipping, directly from Microsoft.

Before you rush out to upgrade, however, be aware that the requirements for running Second Edition are higher than for the original
Windows 98. In particular Microsoft recommends at least 24 MB of memory (RAM), up from 16 MB for the previous version. We recommend you have an absolute minumim of 32 MB, and more is definitely better. Second Edition also requires anywhere from 50-100 MB more disk space than previous versions, with a typical installation using about 250 MB of disk space. If you want to be able to uninstall Second Edition in case you run into trouble, plan on using another 100 MB of disk space to save your current system files. So you may need to upgrade the hard drive and add memory to your PC before upgrading to Second Edition.

August 1999

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