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What's New in Windows 98

Windows is the world's most popular operating system, and one reason for this is its graphical user interface (GUI). Windows lets users issue commands by clicking icons and work with programs within easily manipulated screens called (appropriately) windows.

Operating System

The operating system lets your computer interpret requests from applications and commands from you, the user. The operating system is the "brain" of your PC, enabling it to manage data.

Windows 98 represents the marriage of the Windows operating system and Internet access. This unique melding of form and function, known as Web integration, helps you perform routine computer tasks such as writing a letter while maintaining seamless access to the information you need from the Internet. Web integration also changes the way you interact with the Windows operating system. Command and navigation procedures, as well as the look of the Windows 98 interface, all more closely resemble their counterparts on the Web.


The Internet is a worldwide network of computers originally designed by the U.S. government to protect the national defense. Today, the Internet is used by universities, corporations, government offices, and private individuals. The Internet uses a common protocol (language) that allows these vastly different networks to share information.


This is a company-wide network that uses the same protocols as the Internet to provide mainly internal access to company documents and other information.

World Wide Web

This is called the Web or the WWW for short. Unlike most other parts of the Internet, which are text-based, the Web displays data in a graphical format on Web pages. Web pages are linked like a vast spider web—hence the name.

For example, you can set up your Desktop to actively receive updates from your favorite Web sites, such as stock information, news updates, and the like. You can also receive automatic updates from your company's local intranet.

In addition, Windows 98 lets you manage your files and the folders that contain them using the methodology of the Internet and the World Wide Web. For example, you can now open a program with a single-click of the mouse instead of double-clicking, as you might in Windows 3.1 or Windows 95. This is similar to the method you use to play a sound file on a Web page. You can also enter the location of files into Windows 98's file management program using the same addressing technique that's used on the Internet. Once you learn one file management system, there's nothing new to learn.

As an option, the icons that represent Windows 98 files can be displayed within Weblike pages, with their own graphical layout and design, making it simpler for you to locate and identify files and applications and ascertain their purposes. For example, your local system administrator could design a page that contains links to various files on your local network, complete with descriptions of their contents and use.

Compatibility Issues

Windows 98 will run both 16-bit applications (Windows 3.1) and 32-bit applications (Windows 95 and 98). So any program you might already be using on these older versions of Windows is compatible with Windows 98.

In short, Windows 98 offers you these advantages:

  • Performance improvements, such as faster performance and load times, improved Plug and Play hardware detection, and improved power management.

  • Configuration improvements, such as display setting enhancements and the new Accessibility Settings Wizard.

  • An improved help system that includes integrated online help and automated system updates.

  • New utilities such as the Maintenance Wizard, Fat 32 Converter, and System File Checker. In addition, old standbys such as the Backup and ScanDisk utilities have been greatly improved.

  • Cool multimedia features such as broadcast services that bring your TV to your Desktop, an imaging tool that lets you easily view any graphic file, and multiple display support.

  • New Internet/communication tools, including the Connection Wizard, Internet Explorer 4.0, Outlook Express, FrontPage Express, NetMeeting, and built-in setup for online services such as America Online.

How to Use This Book

This book is designed for the reader who doesn't have a lot of time to learn about a new program or, in this case, a new operating system. Each lesson in this book is designed to take only 10 minutes to complete. So even in a busy workday, you can still find the time to learn what you need.

You can informally divide this book into four sections. The first seven lessons concentrate on general Windows 98 features, including lessons on the organization of the Windows 98 desktop, the Active Desktop, windows and dialog boxes you find in each Windows program, and Windows 98 Help. The next seven lessons deal with customizing Windows 98 and file and directory management. After that, the next nine lessons deal with the general operation of Windows and DOS applications, as well as the accessory programs that are provided as part of the Windows 98 package, and printing and disk management with Windows 98. The final five lessons present network-related features of the operating system, such as the use of Internet Explorer as a Web browser, the management of electronic mail services, and the use of Network Neighborhood. This book also includes appendixes on configuring a modem and other hardware settings and configuring for the Internet or an online service.

You should probably complete the lessons in order, but you can feel free to skip around after you complete Lesson 7.

Conventions Used in This Book

This book uses the following conventions:

  • Information you type appears in boldface type.

  • Menus and menu options, dialog box options, keys you press, and names of buttons and dialog box tabs appear in color type.

When instructing you to choose menu commands, I use two different formats. Shorter menu options look something like this: "From the File menu, choose Open." Longer menu options look something like this: "Click Start, and then select Programs | Accessories | Communications | Phone Dialer." The vertical bar (|) could be considered a substitute for the words "and then select."

In addition to these conventions, this book uses the following sidebars to identify helpful information:


Tips point out shortcuts and solutions that can save you time and energy.


Cautions help you avoid common pitfalls.

Plain English

Plain English explains new terms and definitions.

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