Consumer Windows Promises Less Pane
Windows Me Coming in September 2000
By Jim Bray
Windows 98 is history.
Get ready to welcome
the new Millennium Edition of the popular operating system,
premiering in a store near you on September 14th.
Windows ME (or Windows
Me - as opposed to Windows You) is the latest and supposedly
greatest update to the OS Bill Gates first unleashed with such hoopla
The Millennium version
promises a more stable and robust computing experience, as well as offering
new toys to make your time more enjoyable and productive.
The latter emphasis
includes new digital media and entertainment features and an enhanced
version of Microsofts Web Browser, as well as supposedly easier
and more intuitive home networking capabilities.
Other than the home
networking stuff, however, it appears that these new value added
features are icing on the cake.
Im already a
big fan of the Windows interface, but get very frustrated when its instabilities
leave me high and dry on the shoulder of the information superhighway.
the PC Health features that interest me the most, and Im
looking forward to checking them out.
Those features include
cutting Windows connection to DOS. Windows Me offers DOS support
through protected mode which, Microsoft claims, still lets
you run most DOS apps. Well see.
is also supposed to mean that Windows Me boots more quickly than the 9x
versions, which is a most welcome development.
protection isolates some 900 vital files, preventing them from being
overwritten or deleted. An enhanced System Restore is a fail
safe feature that lets you return Windows to an earlier configuration
that worked if the system starts screwing up.
A new hibernate
feature, which will only work on new PCs that support it, remembers
where you were at shutdown (including the applications and/or documents
that were open) and zips you back there quickly when you power up again.
features guaranteed to pique the interest of Janet Reno include a nifty
and simple way to assemble your own video movies right in Windows, and
a new Windows Image Acquisition technology that lets you preview
and/or manage pictures without having to download them from the digital
camera or scanner.
This requires WIA
compatible imaging devices, of course, but that appears to be the way
the marketplace is going anyway.
If youre in
the market for a scanner or digital camera, you may want to keep this
WIA standard in mind
the Internet is a big consideration in Windows Me. Internet Explorer 5.5
is on the Windows CD (isnt including MSIE with Windows what got
Gates in trouble in the first place?), and it has a neat new feature that
lets you preview how Web pages will look when you print them.
printed out a Web page, only to find the end result looks nothing like
you expected it to, will undoubtedly like this feature.
MSIE 5.5, by the way,
is also available for download from Microsofts Web site as
is Media Player 7, the version now included in the new Windows.
Media Player 7 is
a much more flexible and powerful application than before. It also comes
with several skins that let you change its look to suit your
own taste if you care about such things.
Me thinks Home Networking
is a real wave of the future methinks it probably is, too
and so a new Home Networking Wizard is designed to make connecting to
your other PCs a lot easier. Windows Me also pre-installs all the
core networking software, and includes support for Universal Plug and
Play (as opposed to the Plug and Play thats been around
for a few years) which, at least theoretically, will make updating and
Then again, that was
what they said about Plug and Play
Pricing will be similar
to that for Windows 98, and a special promotion will sweeten the deal
for current users of Windows 98. Retail pricing will be all over the map,
depending upon which store you visit, so there isnt much point in
putting a suggested retail price here.
Whether Windows Me
will be a big improvement over Windows 9x remains to be seen. I hope its
as stable as Windows 2000 Pro, but I wont hold my breath.
Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.
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