Windows 95/98

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There are many new features in Microsoft Windows 98 which allow the PC to do more. Things happen faster, with an immediate gain of 25% or more disk space, and the Internet becomes a central part of the computing experience.

The new features fall into the following four categories:

  • Integration
  • Higher quality
  • Entertainment functionality
  • Support for new generation of hardware


Integrated Internet Shell

The Integrated Internet Shell included with Windows 98 makes Internet access a seamless part of the user interface. Users will no longer have to learn multiple applications—one to look at their local information, perhaps another to look at their network, and yet another to use the Internet or intranet. With the Integrated Internet Shell, Windows 98 unifies this process into one utility to universally view local, network, intranet, and Internet data. You can get to the information you need faster and easier.

Advanced Internet browsing functionality

Windows 98 provides the easiest, fastest, and most entertaining way to browse the Web. This is done via Advanced browsing capabilities such as:

  • AutoComplete
  • Enhanced Web searching
  • Improved Favorites
  • Navigation history on the Forward/Back buttons
  • Improved printing
  • Support for all major Internet standards including:
    • HTML
    • Java
    • ActiveX
    • JavaScript
    • Visual Basic scripting
    • Major security standards
    • Improved performance with Dynamic HTML, a just-in-time Java compiler, and basic code "tuning."

Personalized Internet information delivery

When users are asked the biggest problem they have with the World Wide Web, the number one response is getting the information they need. Windows 98 addresses this problem by providing a mechanism to automatically select and schedule downloads of the information you care about. This enables you to see what has changed on a Web site without physically visiting the site and even allows you to view the site when you are not connected to the Web.

Suite of Tools for Internet Communication

Windows 98 also contains rich tools for online communication including:

  • Outlook Express, a full featured e-mail and news reading client
  • Microsoft NetMeeting, a complete Internet conferencing solution providing standards-based audio, data, and videoconferencing functionality
  • Personal Web Server (and the Web Publishing Wizard), which provides an easy way to publish Web pages on intranets or the Internet
  • Microsoft FrontPad, a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) HTML editor based on the editing tools in Microsoft FrontPage 97, the award-winning, full-featured Web authoring and management tool.
  • Microsoft NetShow is a platform for streaming multimedia over networks that range from low-bandwidth dial-up Internet connections to high-bandwidth switched local area networks. From simple audio to sophisticated interactive Web-based applications, companies use NetShow to offer new streaming content for applications such as training, corporate communications, entertainment, and advertising. The NetShow player is installed with Windows 98.

Windows Update Manager

The Windows Update Web site is an extension to Windows 98. It is a new, centralized Web-based resource site that allows registered Windows 98 users to get more out of their PC. Windows Update keeps users’ systems tuned and up-to-date by providing easy access to the latest drivers and operating system files on an on-going basis. Windows Update also makes computing easier by providing product assistance with up-to-date information and answers to users’ "how-do-I-do" and "how-do-I-fix" questions.

Dial-Up Networking improvements (including Multilink Channel Aggregation)

The Dial-Up Networking included with Windows 98 has been updated to support:

  • Dial-up scripting (which can automate the process of connecting to bulletin boards and online services)
  • Dial-Up Networking user interface enhancements to simplify setting up and using dial-up connections
  • Multilink Channel Aggregation which enables users to combine all available dial-up lines to achieve higher transfer speeds. For example, you can combine two or more ISDN lines to achieve speeds of up to 128K, or combine two or more standard modem lines. This can provide dramatic performance improvements when dialing into the Internet or a corporate network.

Client support for Virtual Private Networking (VPN)

Virtual Private Networking is a new networking support for remote users to access their corporate network via a secure connection. Virtual Private Networking utilizes the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP). Support for this service is natively built in to the operating system.

Online Services Folder

The Windows 98 desktop contains an Online Services Folder with links to America Online (AOL), AT&T WorldNet, CompuServe 3.0, and Prodigy clients. When you click the link to the client, a setup program starts that automatically registers you with that Internet Service Provider.

Internet Connection Wizard

The Internet Connection Wizard is designed to make a first-time connection to the Internet simple. The Internet Connection Wizard gives the user a list of national ISPs to choose from, and then the Wizard does all the software configuration for the user.

15 Troubleshooting Wizards

These Troubleshooting Wizards can help you quickly diagnose and solve technical problems with Windows 98. Troubleshooters are scenario-based walkthroughs that can be customized to the user situation by choosing the answer that fits the situation.

The Troubleshooting Wizards included in Windows 98 address the following areas:

  1. Network
  2. Modem
  3. Startup/Shutdown
  4. Print
  5. DriveSpace 3
  6. Memory
  7. MS-DOS Programs
  8. Display
  9. DirectX
  10. Sound
  11. The Microsoft Network
  12. Hardware Conflict
  13. Dial-Up Networking
  14. Direct Cable Connection
  15. PC Card

Higher Quality

Setup enhancements

Several enhancements have been made to the Windows 98 setup program in an effort to decrease setup time while increasing setup reliability. In addition, the setup interface shows you how far along you are with the setup process.

Faster shutdown

The time it takes to shut down the system has been dramatically reduced in Windows 98.


FAT32 is an improved version of the FAT file system that allows disks over two gigabytes to be formatted as a single drive. FAT32 also uses smaller clusters than FAT drives, resulting in a more efficient use of space on large disks. On average, users will get as much as 28 percent more hard drive space using FAT32.

Power management improvements

Windows 98 includes built-in support for Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI). This allows you to switch on or off your PC as you would your TV set. ACPI is an open industry specification proposed by Intel, Microsoft, and Toshiba that defines hardware interfaces that allow for standard power management functionality throughout a PC system. In addition to ACPI support, Windows 98 includes support for the Advanced Power Management (APM) 1.2 extensions including: disk spindown, PCMCIA modem power down, and resume on ring.

Windows scripting host

Windows 98 supports direct script execution from the user interface or the command line (a script is simply a series of commands that can be automatically executed). This support is provided via the Windows Scripting Host (WSH) and allows administrators and/or users to save time by automating many user interface actions such as creating a shortcut, connecting to a network server, disconnecting from a network server, etc. The WSH is extremely flexible with built-in support for Visual Basic scripts, Java scripts, and a language-independent architecture that will allow other software companies to build ActiveX scripting engines for languages such as Perl, TCL, REXX, and Python.

New accessibility tools

Windows 98 includes two new accessibility tools including the Accessibility Configuration Wizard which helps people adapt Windows' options to their needs and preferences, and a low-end screen magnifier which helps people with moderate vision impairments and those working on unfamiliar machines.

Win32 Driver Model (WDM)

The Win32 Driver Model (WDM) is an all new, unified driver model for Windows 98 and Windows NT. WDM will enable new devices to have a single driver for both operating systems. The WDM has been implemented by adding selected NT Kernel services into Windows 98 via a special virtual device driver (NTKERN.VXD). This allows Windows 98 to maintain full legacy device driver support while adding support for new WDM drivers.

Windows Maintenance Wizard

The Windows Maintenance Wizard was designed to make the PC more self-maintainable. The Wizard schedules tune-up jobs to be run automatically on a regular basis. Windows Maintenance Wizard will help you by:

  • Deleting unnecessary files
  • Making sure your hard disk is optimized and properly functioning
  • Launching applications up to 36 percent faster (on average).

You can launch the Windows Maintenance Wizard from the System Tool group off the Start Menu. Features of Windows Maintenance Wizard include Disk Defragmenter, ScanDisk, and Disk Cleanup.

Disk Defragmenter

The new Disk Defragmenter uses the process of disk defragmentation to increase the speed with which your most frequently used applications run. To accomplish, this Disk Defragmenter creates a log file which identifies your most commonly used programs. Once this log file has been created, it can be used by Disk Defragmenter to store the files associated with most commonly run programs (the files will be stored contiguously on the hard disk). Placing all of the files associated with a given application in the same location on your hard disk will optimize the speed with which your application runs.


Windows 98 has been enhanced to run ScanDisk automatically in the event the operating system is shut down improperly or your hard disk suffers a hard error. This feature will significantly help people ensure that their hard drives are in proper working order, free of lost clusters or cross-linked files.

Disk Cleanup

Disk Cleanup is a tool in Windows 98 that automates the task of cleaning unwanted files off the hard disk, increasing free space. This tool is especially useful to help users clean out Internet cache files that can accumulate after browsing the Web. Additionally, this tool is customizable by the user to designate files to remove.

Microsoft System Information Utility 4.1

Windows 98 now contains a centralized system information utility that gathers system configuration information for technical support. This tool comprises a collection of ActiveX controls, each responsible for collecting and displaying a certain category of system information in the right frame of Microsoft System Information Utility. A Support Engineer can guide the user experiencing an issue to Microsoft System Information Utility to facilitate the information gathering process.

System File Checker utility

System File Checker keeps track of critical files that make your computer run. If these files are moved or changed, System File Checker provides an easy way to restore these files. Once file changes are detected, System File Checker offers the user several courses of action.

Registry Checker

Registry Checker is a proactive support program that finds and resolves Registry problems, and regularly backs up the Registry. Windows 98 provides both an MS-DOS and a Windows-based program for scanning the Registry and backing up and restoring the Registry and system configuration files.

Automatic Skip Driver Agent (ASD)

Automatic Skip Driver Agent (ASD) identifies potentially dangerous failures that are known to have caused Windows 98 systems to stop responding and marks them so they are bypassed on subsequent startups.

Automatic Skip Driver:

  • Identifies hardware devices that fail to respond when tested by Windows 98.
  • Displays a dialog box indicating that it has detected a failure that may cause the system to stop responding.
  • Prompts you with the option to bypass this action on subsequent startups.

New Dr. Watson utility

Windows 98 includes an enhanced version of the Dr. Watson utility. With Dr. Watson enabled, when a software fault occurs (general protection fault, hang, etc.), Dr. Watson will intercept it and indicate what software faulted and why. In addition, Dr. Watson collects detailed information about the state of your system at the time the fault occurred. It logs this information to disk, and can display it on screen to assist administrative and product support personnel in determining the cause of the fault.

System Configuration utility

System Configuration Utility is the graphical replacement for Sysedit. This tool allows the user to troubleshoot through a process of elimination with check boxes. System Configuration Utility allows the user to create and restore backups of configuration files.

Version Conflict Manager

Version Conflict Manager detects file version conflicts with installed programs. Windows 98 will then install the Windows version of the driver. By doing this, Windows 98 puts the system in an optimal compatibility stage. Version Conflict Manager also stores all files and has an easy user interface that enables the user to change the driver if needed.

New backup utility

This new backup applet supports SCSI tape devices and makes backing up your data easier and faster.

Remote Access Server

Windows 98 includes all of the components necessary to enable your desktop to act as a dial-up server. This allows dial-up clients to remotely connect to a Windows 98 machine for local resource access or connecting to an IPX/SPX and/or NetBEUI network.

Display Setting Enhancements

Display Setting Enhancements provide support for dynamically changing screen resolution and color depth. Adapter refresh rate can also be set with most newer display driver chipsets.

Windows 98 also includes the display enhancements previously available in Microsoft Plus!. These enhancements are:

  • Full window drag
  • Font smoothing
  • Wallpaper stretching
  • Large icons
  • High-color icons

Entertainment Functionality

WebTV for Windows

This new feature allows a PC to act as a receiver of broadcast information, including television programs. With Windows 98 and a TV tuner card supported by Windows 98 installed , the PC can:

  • Find your favorite television programs with a Program Guide that is always up-to-date. The TV listings are updated daily from the Internet or over the vertical blanking interval (VBI) lines broadcast from a local station.
  • Watch TV programs on your PC monitor, even while you're using other software applications. You can either watch TV in full-screen mode, or in a "window" on your desktop.
  • View interactive TV programs that provide supplemental information about the show. Interactive television provides better, richer entertainment and information, blending traditional TV-watching with the interactivity of a PC.
  • Receive other information, such as Web pages, multimedia files, and software upgrades over the broadcast airwaves. The TV tuner card in your PC, along with Windows 98, acts as a "receiver" of data instead of television signals.


ActiveMovie is a new media-streaming architecture for Windows that delivers high-quality video playback while exposing an extensible set of interfaces upon which multimedia applications and tools can be built. ActiveMovie enables playback of popular media types including MPEG audio, .WAV audio, MPEG video, AVI video, and Apple QuickTime video.

Support for Intel MMX Processors

Provides support for third parties to build software that exploits the Intel Pentium Multimedia Extensions (MMX) for fast audio and video support on the next generation of Intel Pentium processors.

Support for New Generation of Hardware

One of the major goals of Windows 98 is to provide complete support for users to take advantage of the array of innovations that have occurred in computer hardware over the last few years. Some of the major hardware standards supported by Windows 98 include: Universal Serial Bus (USB), IEEE 1394, Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP), Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI), and DVD.

Multiple Display Support

PCMCIA enhancements

There have been several enhancements to Windows 98 with respect to PCMCIA technology, including:

Support for PC Card32 (Cardbus):

Cardbus brings 32-bit performance to the small PC Card form factor. It enables notebooks to implement high-bandwidth applications like video capture and 100Mbps networking.

Support for PC Cards that operate at 3.3 Volts:

This enables hardware manufacturers to lower the power consumption of their devices by using 3.3V rather than 5V.

Support for Multifunction PC Cards:

Allows two or more functions (such as LAN and modem, or SCSI and sound) on a single physical PC Card. Supporting multifunction cards makes better use of the precious number of slots on most PCs permitting more functions per PC and decreasing the cost-per-function of PC Cards.

Built-in support for Infrared Data Association (IrDA)

Windows 98 includes support for IrDA, the Infrared Data Association standard for wireless connectivity. IrDA support enables Windows 98 users to easily connect to peripheral devices or other PCs without using connecting cables. This driver set provides infrared-equipped laptop or desktop computers with the capability of networking, transferring files, and printing wirelessly with other IrDA-compatible infrared devices.

Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM)

The Component Object Model (COM) allows software developers to create component applications. Now, Distributed COM (DCOM) in Windows 98 (and Windows NT 4.0) provides the infrastructure that allows DCOM applications (the technology formally known as Network OLE) to communicate across networks without needing to redevelop applications.

Client support for NetWare Directory Services (NDS)

Windows 98 includes Client Services for NetWare that support Novell NetWare Directory Services (NDS). This enables Windows 98 users to log on to Novell NetWare 4.x servers running NDS to access files and print resources. This service provides the key features that Novell users need, such as: NDS authentication, ability to browse NDS resources, ability to print to NDS print queues, and full support for processing NetWare login scripts, NDS property pages, and NDS passwords.

32-bit Data Link Control (DLC)

The Data Link Control (DLC) protocol is used primarily to access IBM mainframe and IBM AS/400 computers. The 32-bit DLC protocol software built in to Windows 98 enables a network administrator to add support for 32-bit and 16-bit DLC programs.