Windows 95


James Connell

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.

Category: Technology