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Windows 9x: A Look Back

SuperSite readers will know that we finally switched this site over to a modern content management system (CMS) late last year, after roughly 12 years of me hand-editing HTML and ASP code. The result, as expected, was somewhat messy, and there are still many, many articles that I need to "tag" so that they appear properly in the various site sub-sections (what we call "one stops") and in search results. This, of course, is mind-bogglingly boring work, and while my intentions are pure, let's just say I haven't done much of it.

So I'm restarting this effort now. And the way I'm going to do it is to re-tackle one subject at a time, starting with the Windows 9x series of OS releases. Here, I've gone back, looked at the previous version of the site--which accurately lists every article I published up to the CMS switchover--tag them correctly, and for purposes of a nice look back, collected them here for you to consider in context.

Windows 9x comprises Windows 95 (and the various "OS-R" updates to Windows 95, which were provided only via PC makers), Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition (SE), and of course the unfairly maligned Windows Millennium Edition (Me). All of these releases, except for Windows Me, actually predate the SuperSite, interestingly--I started the site originally for Windows NT 5.0, which became Windows 2000, in the days when it was going to consolidate the NT and 9x lines, though that never happened--so these articles were actually added to the site later for completeness sake.

Because of the timeline, much of what I wrote about Windows 9x actually occurred in WinInfo, the still-separate daily news newsletter whose content is now aggregated on the SuperSite home page. Little of that content is presented here, though there's a lot of it out there somewhere. Maybe some other time. Windows Millennium Edition, however, was my first foray into non-NT 5 content on the SuperSite, and of course things have expanded dramatically since then.

Anyway, here's what I've got for Windows 9x. It's not much, so it was a good place to start. I'll prepare more of these retrospectives--tagging articles correctly for the new CMS--in the weeks and months ahead.

Newest articles are at the top.

Help Me: Windows Me PC Health Features Examined - October 3, 2000

Some of Windows Me's most compelling new features are under the hood, providing users with the reliability and stability enhancements that I think make this release worth having. Microsoft has been able to give Windows Me a level of robustness that simply escapes Windows 95 and Windows 98. It's no Windows 2000, of course, but Windows Me does occupy an interesting middle ground between its Windows 9x predecessors and Windows 2000.

Install Me: A Guide to Upgrading and Installing Windows Me - September 25, 2000

This showcase focuses on how to best install Windows Me either as an upgrade to Windows 9x or as a clean install on an empty hard drive of a new PC.

Talk to Me: An Interview with Brian Livingston - September 18, 2000

I sat down with Brian Livingston to discuss Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me), Brian's new book (Windows Me Secrets), copyright issues, and a recent press release, in which he accused Microsoft of tying two products--Windows Media Player 7 and Windows Movie Maker--into the new OS. As always, it was an interesting chat.

Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me) Review - July 5, 2000

Windows Millennium Edition--or Windows Me (as in the dreadful, "get to know Me" tagline)--is a lame duck technologically, but it offers enough reliability improvements and new features for me to recommend it heartily to most Windows 9x users. And for those people that eagerly turned to Windows 2000, only to get burned, Windows Me might be just what the doctor ordered.

Road to Gold: A Look at the Development of Windows Me - July 5, 2000

It began, quietly enough, with yet another Microsoft reorganization. On March 30, 1999, Microsoft announced that it was dividing the company into five new divisions, one of which, the Consumer Windows division, came as a bit of a surprise. Previously, the Consumer Windows team had been lumped under Jim Allchin's Windows team, which was furiously working to complete Windows 2000, the company's enterprise OS product. But when it became obvious that a consumer version of Windows 2000 was out of the question, the stagnating Consumer Windows team finally got its wish: To create a final release in the Windows 9x product line, which had previously been consigned to the dustbin of history by those at Microsoft that wished to see the company move to an all-NT codebase.

The Windows Me CD-ROM: What You Get - July 3, 2000

So if you're among the crowd of millions of consumers that will get Windows Me, and you probably are, you may be wondering what it is that you're going to get when Microsoft finally ships that OS. Wonder no more: Here's the first look at the contents of the final Windows Me CD-ROM.

Windows Me "Out-Of-Box" Experience (OOBE) - May 24, 2000

Microsoft has designed an "Out-Of-Box Experience" (OOBE) for customers that receive Windows Me with a new computer, one that is designed to get them up to speed with their new operating system as quickly as possible. And in this exclusive SuperSite preview of the Windows Me OOBE, I take a look at what you're going to see when you turn on your new PC for the first time.

Windows Millennium Edition ("Windows Me") Beta 3 Review - April 12, 2000

Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, Windows ME Beta 3 is a surprisingly decent product, proving that the old Windows 9x code-base is far more resilient than previously expected. There are simple changes, such as a tweaked and simplified user interface based on Windows 2000, but the big changes are all under the hood.

Introducing Windows Millennium Edition ("Windows Me") Beta 3 - April 11, 2000

Windows Millennium Edition ("Windows Me") Beta 3 looks and feels like Windows 2000 but offers a host of new consumer-oriented features.

Introducing AutoUpdate - January 31, 2000, Updated March 5, 2000

One of the coolest new technologies in Windows Millennium Edition ("Windows Me") is AutoUpdate, which allows you to keep your computer up-to-date without having to manually navigate to the Windows Update Web site and see whether there's anything new. If you agree to allow AutoUpdate to run on your system, it will occasionally go out and see whether there are new updates for your specific configuration. If there are, it can be configured to automatically install them or alert you so that you can manually decide whether the update is something you want installed.

Windows "Millennium" Beta 2 Review - November 24, 1999

Millennium is designed for home users, not corporate desktops, and it needs to be tested in appropriate scenarios. Unlike previous versions of Windows such as Windows 95 and Windows 98, Millennium will not be an option in businesses: Instead, Microsoft will push Windows 2000 Professional to those customers.

Introducing Windows "Millennium" - November 24, 1999

Windows Millennium Beta 2 features the basic user interface from Windows 2000 sitting on top of the Windows 98 kernel.

What Happened to Millennium Beta 1? - September 22, 1999

Microsoft has decided not to supply the press with copies of Millennium Beta 1 because the product, at this point in time, doesn't accurately reflect the way it will look and feel when it's released in mid-to-late 2000. According to my contacts at Waggener Edstrom and Microsoft, the features in Millennium Beta 1 are largely structural, dealing with changes to the underpinnings of the operating system.

Activity Centers: A Windows Me Technology Showcase - September 22, 1999

Activity Centers--originally expected in Millennium but now due in its NT-based follow-up, dubbed Whistler, blur the distinction between local applications and distributed, web-based applications.

Windows 98 Second Edition (SE) Review - May 5, 1999

Windows 98 Second Edition (SE) picks up where Windows 98 left off, with new Internet related features--such as the bundling of Internet Explorer 5.0 and Internet Connection Sharing--while providing a host of bug fixes and support for new types of hardware. So Windows 98 SE isn't dramatically different from Windows 98, but then that's the point: This is a minor upgrade, not a major new release.

Windows 98 Review - June 25, 1998

Windows 98 is the refined, improved, almost-perfect version of Windows we've been waiting for over the past two years. In every way, it is an improvement over Windows 95, and in every way it offers little features that make you smile and wonder how you ever got along without them. From the configurable, shaded window title bars to the HTML-based help system and the myriad of other little things I could never even begin to fully describe here, Windows 98 reminds you again and again of all the hard work that went into it.

Plus! for Windows 98 Review - June 25, 1998

Microsoft's latest version of Plus!--a companion product for Windows 98--is a mixture of useful utilities, games, and other add-ons. What separates Plus! 98 from its predecessor, however, is that the bundled utilities enhance the operating system in obvious ways: It's no longer necessary to simply skip over Plus! at the local software store.

Windows 95 Preview - February 1995

In October 1994, I began working with the M2 release of Windows "Chicago," which went on to become known as Windows 4.0 and, finally, Windows 95. Already a published co-author of a Visual Basic 3.0 book, I was contracted to write a book about Windows 95, and this preview--based on build 224 beta code--appeared in the Spring 1995 issue of BC Link, an internal newsletter for the Benjamin Cummings publishing company. So here it is, my first published words about Windows 95, the OS that would change everything and usher in the era of 32-bit GUI computing for the masses.
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