Are you ready to take the plunge?
By Al Giovetti
I just recently installed a Windows 98 network in my home office. It always happens around the busiest season. And of course the change got me in trouble.
This time of year is usually the doldrums for the entertainment software field. But this time of year is extremely busy for accountants. So why would I want to change the computer this time of year.
I always tell my clients and friends to avoid making changes to your computer in the busy season. Usually upgrading, like I did from Windows 95 to Windows 98, will just cause a whole raft of problems. Not only didn't I take my own advice, but I my advice was right. I should have left well enough alone.
The problem started harmless enough, when my wife Christine's computer started acting up. Most of you know that Christine and I work together as partners in business as well as life. Christine's computer started running out of space and speed.
The space aspect seemed harmless enough. I spoke to a service representative at Microsoft about going with one of the new high capacity "Ultra Direct Memory Access hard disk drives," UDMA HDD for those who like acronyms. The representative reminded me that the even though these drives are fast, 33 "mega" (million) bits per second (MBPS) data transfer speed, Windows 95 has a devil of a time with drives which are over 2 gigabytes (billion bytes - GB) in size. He went on to say that upgrading to Windows 98 would eliminate the problem.
So off to the store to buy Widows 98 went Christine and she attempted the installation of the program. Very soon after this started, Christine came into my room telling me she crashed her C: drive and that the computer will not boot. Well we used a boot disk but every file and file folder on the hard drive now was numbered instead of having names like it was supposed to.
Well now I just had to jump into this mess with both feet and spent the next few days with your friendly neighborhood Microsoft Windows 98 customer service technician. This service guy worked from his home which was in New Orleans and we will call him Hugh to protect both the innocent and the guilty as Joe Friday used to say on his television show Dragnet.
Well after a week with Hugh and the hard drive with Windows 98, Hugh finally suggested getting another hard drive. Chris and I went to the local retail outlet and bought one of the shiny new 8.6 GB HDDs by Western Digital. This resulted in me spending a few very close days with my shiny handy-dandy computer tool kit, wrestling over wire polarity and screw size compatibility with enclosure tooling. You may draw your own conclusions.
We also had purchased one of the nice 3.5 inch 120 MB floppy drives called the Super Drive, reviewed by me as the LS-120 several years ago. The LS-120 Super Drive lets you put about 80 times as much information on your floppy drive when you use one of the $8 120 MB floppy disks from Imation or other companies. Well we had problems getting the drives to recognize and had to worry about such things as the "slave" and "master" positions on the hard drives, the LS-120, and the CD-ROM (Compact Disk Read Only Memory) drive.
This lead me to have to change positions of the drives, the cables, the CMOS, and the power cables, while turning the computer off each time I checked the almost limitless permutations and combinations. I guess that is why they made me take statistics three times: once in undergraduate ad twice in graduate school for both the masters and doctorate. By the time I was finished, I really needed a drink.
Just about midway into the second week of this problem, I decided we needed to buy a bran new computer for Christine with Windows 98 installed and get them to put in the extra hard drive and LS-120. We had to get on with things and I might have gotten to enjoy the project all the way past April 15, 1999, If Chris had not reminded me of tax season. Why I might have took so much time, it might have been past the summer 1999 release date that Microsoft has given us for Windows 2000.
You see every two or three years, Bill Gates has us scheduled to upgrade our operating systems to one which will only work with the most up to date computers. Now maybe that is the good news, but this also means that every two or three years we have to pony up $2000 or so to buy a new machine to go with the current version of Windows.
The bad news is that Windows 2000 is a kinda high test version of Windows 98. It has the next generation Windows 98 and Windows NT version 5.0 all rolled into one. Most of us can go out and buy Windows 98 for somewhere around $75 to $80. Windows 2000 will have both a server version and a workstation version like Windows NT. The workstation version is expected to cost $320 new and $150 for the upgrade. The server version will cost $809 for five users.
Windows 2000 Professional, the desktop or workstation version, will be a lot like Windows 98, It will feature an active desktop, power management, and plug-and-play. Active directory and new automated software installation will also be included.
The good news is that those who upgraded to Windows 98 this year will not have to dump their new program in favor of Windows 2000. Windows 98 supports the 16-bit file format which many systems still use on their hard drives. Windows 2000 will no longer support the 16-bit, but will only support the 32-bit file format. The good news is that Windows 2000 is not designed to replace Windows 98 right away. Wait a year or two and relax while you work the bugs out of Windows 98.
Just to show you that you will need to upgrade to keep up. Windows NT version 4.0 requires 32 MB of RAM (Random Access Memory). Windows 2000 will require 64 MB RAM and a 166 MHz processor. When Bill Gates introduced Windows 95 to the hardware manufacturers he said, and I am paraphrasing, Windows 95 will make you rich.
More nightmares result if you take the time to look at the new computers that you will have to upgrade to. A cursory look at Chris' new computer gave me time to reflect on a new type of Ram incompatible with the old type. The Pentium II slot is not backward compatible nor upward compatible. The Pentium III, which came out February 28, 1999 uses an entirely new system socket to attach to a Pentium II like daughter board or in some systems the socket will be right on the motherboard.
Well enough horror stories around the campfire for this edition. I will return with such horrors as how do the new desktops differ from your old clunker. And not to be forgotten, we will include the multi-tenticled horror of network installation. Enjoy the busy season.
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