Microsoft has outlined the features of its upcoming Windows 98 operating system designed to appeal to the consumer sector.
To be released on 25 June - Department of Justice willing - Windows 98 aims to improve on Windows 95 in several ways. These include better performance and reliability, simplified navigation and Internet access, and support for new hardware features such as USB (universal serial bus) and DVD video disk storage.
Support for USB allows compatible devices such as scanners and joysticks to be up and running the moment they are attached without the need to reboot or run set-up. USB support also allows the devices to be easily interchanged. Microsoft said it decided to include this feature based on its prediction that the typical home customer will soon be using an average of five peripherals.
Microsoft's endorsement of USB is expected to speed up PC manufacturers' production of compatible devices to take advantage of these capabilities in Windows 98.
Windows 98 will also offer support for multiple monitors. This is primarily targeted at games enthusiasts and Web designers. The latter may prefer to work in one resolution but also see the finished result in a different one. Microsoft also expects multiple monitors to be a big hit with games players, who can take advantage of an all-round view in games like Doom.
To add consumer appeal, Microsoft has scheduled Microsoft Plus 98 to be available at the same time as the operating system. This consumer companion kit will cost around #39 and provides utilities for users to extend the functionality of Windows 98, plus entertainment features.
The kit includes third party tools that add to the operating system?s self-maintenance features, including Virus Scan from McAfee. The fun features include new Themes to help customise desktop features, new games and a basic version of Picture IT software. There is also the Deluxe CD player, which plays music CDs and downloads information on the artist, song or title from the Internet through two linked Web sites, Music Boulevard and Tunes.com.
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