The Complete Idiot's Guide to Windows 98
In This Chapter
In this chapter, I give you a quick rundown of the new and noteworthy knickknacks that come with Windows 98. I also give former Windows 3.1 users a few pointers to help ease their transition into Microsoft's latest and greatest operating system. Of course, this is just to give you the lay of the Windows 98 land; everything I mention here is cross-referenced to later parts of the book where I provide complete info on these features.
If you've used Windows 95, you and Windows 98 should get along just fine, thank you. Sure, this new version is chock full of changes large and small. But you arenít likely to find anything in Windows 98 that throws you for a loop. Many of these improvements are internal tweaks that only technology jockeys find interesting, but that help your system run faster, smoother, and more efficiently. And there are plenty of new and improved goodies for average users who just want to get their work done without any extra fuss.
Anyone who has messed around with the Internet's World Wide Web knows just how easy it can be to click links to move from page to page; it really is a quick, intuitive way to get from here to there. The Microsoft programmers have given us more of a good thing in Windows 98, with their "Web integration" design. In Windows 98, you move through the system, files, and folders just as you move through the Webclick here, jump there. Web integration alters the Windows landscape in the following ways:
The My Computer folder in Web view: a nicer look and "live" icons, to boot.
The Net and Windows 98: Internet Explorer 4 and More
The Internet is where all the action is these days, and Windows 98 has carved out its own seat on the bandwagon. If you're itching to get online, Windows 98 has a ton of topnotch tools for getting you on the Internet and keeping you there:
New Tools for Problem-Free Computing
Computers are fairly reliable machines these days, but that doesn't mean that trouble never rears its ugly head. You can help lessen the chances of a problem arising by performing regular system maintenance chores. That's not as much of a burden as it might seem because Windows 98 has some excellent tools for the job:
Sights for Sore Eyes and Ears: Windows 98 Multimedia
If the right side of your brain is wondering, "Hey, what's in this for me?" tell it not to worryWindows 98 has no shortage of multimedia marvels:
Support for the Latest Hardware Toys
One of Windows' goals is to make it easy for you to interact with the devices attached to your computer. The hardware manufacturers have been busy over the past couple of years, and Windows 98 has been beefed up to handle a wide variety of recent hardware innovations. You probably don't want to know much about things like the Universal Serial Bus and FireWire, and thanks to Windows 98's support for these initiatives, you won't have to. Here's a list of a few of the hardware-related features that Windows 98 is friendly with:
A Few More New Features to Get Excited About
To finish our look at what's new in the Windows 98 world, here's a list of a few miscellaneous improvements:
The Accessibility Wizard makes it easier than ever to customize Windows for users with special needs.
The Transition from Windows 3.1 to Windows 98
Lots of people will be heading into Windows 98 having already struggled with the intricacies of Windows 3.1. That's a good start, but Windows 98 is different enough that you'll face a bit of a learning curve.
The overall design of Windows 98 is simpler and cleaner than that of Windows 3.1. Launching programs is more straightforward and the things you need are much easier to find. For my money, though, Windows 98's Most Valuable Feature award definitely goes to its support for longer file names. That's rightno more trying to shoehorn a meaningful name into a measly eight-plus-three characters. Now you can go crazy because the limit has been bumped up to a positively verbose 255 characters! (One word of warning, though: only programs designed for Windows 95 or Windows 98 can understand these long-winded names.)
By far the most annoying thing about Windows 3.1 was its perverse tendency to go up in flames whenever an important deadline or meeting loomed large. Windows 98 was designed from the ground up to be more stable and not give up the ghost as easily as Windows 3.1 did. (Again, however, you'll need to use programs created specifically for Windows 95 or Windows 98 to get semi-bullet-proof operations.)
To give you an idea of what to expect from your new operating system, the following table names a few common Windows 3.1 tasks (and some DOS 6 ones, too), tells you the Windows 98 equivalents, and points you to the relevant chapters in the book.
Windows 3.1 tasks and their Windows 98 counterparts.
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