Windows 98 Comes Home, Sort Of

Microsoft's upgrade for Windows 95, called Windows 98, is available in a preview beta for techno-savvy PC users.


PC geeks love betas. A few years ago, only a sacred few knew what beta and alpha test versions of upcoming software were. Following the beta testing of the original Windows 95 beta program is Microsoft with an offer to fill that itching need to see Windows 98 before its release.

Hoping to reach a maximum of 100,000 users in the US and Canada, Microsoft is selling the Windows 98 Consumer Beta Preview Program to anyone who wants to pay the US$29.95 (CAN$39.95) plus shipping and handling for a sneak peek at what changes are to come with the next version of Windows.

E-mail went out to more savvy PC users at the beginning of the week, inviting users to participate in the program. Over the course of the next few months, more e-mail will be delivered to users and information will be posted on the Web.

The kit includes product support, a Beta Preview Program Kit with Windows 98 beta 3 on CD, a Getting Started Guide, Product Release Notes, and a program brochure.

Additional information on product availability will be available on the Windows 98 web site after Feb. 16.

"We developed this program based on feedback from users of Windows 95 that home users, just like corporations, wanted a chance to preview the next version of Windows before release," said Jonathan Roberts, director of Windows marketing at Microsoft. "The Windows 98 Consumer Beta Preview Program will give thousands of home-computer enthusiasts the opportunity for an early test-drive of Windows 98."

Microsoft reports that improvements have been made with Internet functionality, hardware support, and better overall functionality.

Also, Windows 98 supports DirectX 5.0, Internet Explorer 4.0, and those USB joysticks that have yet to come out. It also uses less disk space without compression using Microsoft's FAT32 format. The shift from Windows 95 to Windows 98 is more of a refinement of the technologies used in 95 instead of the drastic jump that was made from Window 3.X.

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