Opinion: Windows 98 problems exaggerated

In an industry dominated by Microsoft and Intel, it gets a little too easy sometimes to slam the local monopolies when there isn't any real news to offer. The recent spate of Windows 98 disaster stories has made me wonder whether this isn't a case of crying wolf. Sure, there are users that have reported problems upgrading laptops with PC Cards. I've heard from some myself. But the solution to the problem is the same as it was under Windows 95: Simply remove the cards and reinstall them. Simple. And not exactly earth-shattering. The big issue here is that Windows 98 isn't a massive upgrade with all kinds of different features, requiring new drivers or anything drastic. Windows 98 is simply the next version of Windows 95. It's the same thing, really.

The only difference between Windows 98 and the OSR releases of Windows 95 is that Windows 98 is available on store shelves. This opens it up to a different kind of user (an upgrader) than Windows 95 OSR-2 or OSR-2.5. Those OSes were designed specifically to be installed on new computers and while the bulk of Windows 98's users will indeed receive the OS with a new computer, there will be millions of people that run out and buy it.

These people are geeks. They're like you and I, probably. They want the latest and greatest, even though they can't really explain why. Windows 98 supports USB and ACPI power management, features that most of these upgraders can't use anyway. And while I'm sure there are very real problems with some systems upgrading to Windows 98, I'm also sure that the vast majority of users will experience a wonderful, hands-off upgrade. What most people are spending their $80 on is Windows 95 plus Internet Explorer 4.01, which they could have gotten for free.

So I guess I'm suggesting that the hoopla over the Windows 98 "problems" is more than a little overblown. And I really do think that it's getting a lot of press because, frankly, it's boring to say that Windows 98 is off to a great start, selling better by this point then Windows 95 did. Yup, that's awfully boring.

It's also the truth.


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