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Windows 95

Windows 95 may very well be the most talked about software release in history. With more

people than ever using personal computers, and given Microsoft's dominance in this still

growing market, Mr. Gates' newest offering has caused quite a stir. As with any new product

in this ultra-competitive industry, Windows 95 has come under intense scrutiny. Advocates

of the new operating system applaud its new features and usability, while its opponents

talk about the similarities to Apple's operating system. As I have never used an Apple

computer, I can't address this point, but I will attempt to outline some of the more

interesting "new" features of Windows 95. Arguably the most welcome innovation Win 95

offers is the "task bar". Use of the task bar eliminates the need to navigate through

several open application windows to get to the one you need. When you first start an

application, a corresponding button appears on the task bar. If after opening other windows

you need to return to the original window, all you need do is click on the application's

button on the task bar and the appropriate window will come to the fore. According to Aley,

"the most gratifying, and overdue, improvement is Windows 95's tolerance for file names in

plain English" (29-30). Traditionally, users had to think of file names that summed up

their work in eight letters or less. This was a constant problem because frequently a user

would look at a list of files to retrieve and think "now what did I save that as?". Those

days are over. Windows 95 will let the user save his or her work with names like "New

Speech" or "Inventory Spreadsheet No. 1", making the contents of those files obvious. Much

to the annoyance of software developers, Windows 95 incorporates many features that

previously required add-on software. One such feature is the Briefcase- a program for

synchronizing the information stored on a user's desktop and notebook computers. Keeping

track of which files were the most recently updated was a big problem. As Aley puts it,

"Which copy of your speech for the sales conference did you work on last, the one in the

laptop or the one in the desktop?" (29-30). One solution was to use programs like Laplink

which would analyze which copy of a file was updated last. Now that Windows 95 provides

this utility, there is no need to buy the add-on software. While mice have always come with

two or even three buttons, most programs have only provided for the use of the left. With

Windows 95 there is finally a use for the right. "Clicking it calls up a menu of commands

that pertain to whatever the cursor is pointing at"(Aley 29-30). Clicking on the background

will open a window that will allow you to change the screen savers and wallpaper. Clicking

on an icon that represents a disk drive will bring up statistics about that drive. To use

Aley's words, "Windows 95 is still clearly a work in progress" (29-30). The software

included to let a user connect to The Microsoft Network cannot be used yet because there is

no Microsoft Network. The dream of plug-and-play compatibility for pc's has not yet been

realized, although in fairness, part of the responsibility for that lies with hardware

manufacturers. However, even with these drawbacks, Windows 95 offers many much needed and

useful new features.

Works Cited

Aley, James. "Windows 95 and Your PC." Fortune 3 Apr. 1995: 29-30.

James Connell

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