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Chapter 4. What's New and Noteworthy in ... > Support for New Hardware Gadgets

Support for New Hardware Gadgets

Although Web integration and the built-in Internet tools will be the stars of the Windows 98 show, there's quite a sizable supporting cast to consider. Besides new universal drivers and mini-drivers that work with hundreds of new devices and models, the most significant changes are the new features that support many of the latest hardware standards. Here's a summary:

FAT32: First introduced in the OSR2 release of Windows 98, FAT32 is a 32-bit file system that provides faster disk access and greater storage efficiency. The latter comes via smaller cluster sizes for large hard disks (4KB clusters for disks up to 8GB).

Drive Converter (FAT32): To help you make the move to FAT32, Windows 98 comes with a utility that will convert FAT16 partitions to the new FAT32 structure without trashing your data (see Figure 4.3). I show you how to use this utility in Chapter 9, “Performance Tuning: Optimizing Memory and Disk Access.”

Figure 4.3. The FAT32 Converter can update any FAT16 partition without harming the existing data.

Win32 Driver Model (WDM): This is a new specification for writing device drivers so that a single driver works on both Windows 98 and Windows NT. See Chapter 10, “Getting the Most Out of Device Manager and Hardware Profiles,” for details.

Multiple Display Support: This is one of Windows 98's more intriguing features. It enables you to add two or more PCI display adapters to your system and attach a monitor to each. The result is a desktop that spans all the attached monitors. You learn how to implement this handy feature in Chapter 11, “Device Advice: Dealing with Devices in Windows 98.”

Other display adapter enhancements: Windows 98 includes several other new features for display adapters, including refresh rate support, the ability to set graphics acceleration from the Display Properties dialog box, and support for hardware panning at lower resolutions. This is all covered in Chapter 11.

MMX support: Windows 98 implements support for third-party programs that take advantage of Intel's Pentium Multimedia Extensions (MMX). See Chapter 11.

Power management enhancements: Windows 98 supports Advanced Power Management (APM) 1.2, including modem wake-on-ring, a Control Panel Power icon, support for multiple batteries, and drive spin down (which allows machines to place the hard disk in low-power mode when not in use). Windows 98 also implements the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) 1.0, which is a cross-platform power management specification implemented at the OS level instead of the BIOS level. ACPI is the basis for the OnNow initiative, the goal of which is to have PCs turn on as quickly as most consumer electronic devices do. See Chapter 11 to learn more.

Universal Serial Bus (USB) support: Windows 98 can work with USB controllers as well as USB input devices (keyboards, mice, joysticks, and so on) that support the Human Interface Device (HID) standard.

IEEE 1394 (FireWire): Windows 98 has built-in support for the IEEE 1394 bus (aka FireWire), as well as mini-drivers for some controllers (such as the Adaptec AHA-8940).

Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) support: Windows 98 ships with drivers that support DVD-ROM drives as storage devices (see Chapter 11), as well as movie playback from DVD drives and consumer devices (see Chapter 24, “DirectX and Windows 98 Video”).

Image and video capture: Windows 98 supports a number of devices that capture still images (scanners and digital cameras) and video streams (conferencing cameras and IEEE 1394 desktop video camcorders). Again, Chapter 24 is the place to go to learn about this technology.

PC Card support: Windows 98 comes with drivers that enable the OS to work with Cardbus (PC Card 32) devices, 3.3 volt PC Card devices, and Global Positioning Satellite devices (see Chapter 11).

IRQ steering: Windows 98 supports the new PCI IRQ steering (sometimes called IRQ routing) feature, which enables the system to “steer” an interrupt request to the next available IRQ (see Chapter 10).

Infrared device support: Windows 98 continues to support standard Serial Infrared (SIR) devices, including IrDA 1.0- and IrDA 2.0-compliant devices and infrared LAN connectivity. Windows 98 also supports the new Fast Infrared (FIR) standard for data transfers up to 4MBps (compared to just 115.2KBps for SIR devices). I tell you how to set up and use infrared devices in Chapter 11.

Storage devices: Windows 98 has increased support for storage devices, including support for IDE Bus Mastering, 120MB Floptical drives, CD changers, Zip drives, and Jaz drives. I discuss the various drive types supported by Windows 98 in Chapter 11.

Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) support: Windows 98 has built-in support for AGP, which is a bus specification that brings high-performance graphics operations to mainstream PCs. See Chapter 11 for more information.

Hardware profile tweaks: The hardware profile feature boasts a few user interface enhancements in Windows 98 (see Chapter 10 for details).



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