Originating publication
May 18, 1998, Issue: 789
Section: News

Win 98 Perks For The Enterprise
New York -- One feature Microsoft Corp. is touting in Windows 98-the ability to automatically update system components via the Internet-could concern resellers seeking to control untested changes to corporate users' operating systems.

The automatic feature could create a hodgepodge of conflicts in enterprises with carefully tuned workstation configurations. Another problem is bandwidth when the new OS automatically downloads updates or fixes configuration errors.

To address concerns, Microsoft will offer a new utility, the Windows 98 Image Preparation Tool, along with the System Policy Editor, a utility that has been with Windows since Release 3.11, which allows resellers to control features. The little-known Image Preparation Tool targets resellers and systems integrators working in large corporate environments.

The Windows 98 version of System Policy Editor allows the automatic download feature to be turned off. Unfortunately, that can only be done after Windows 98 has been installed or when the user first logs on to the network, and the reseller still has to spend time installing and configuring applications.

"The idea in mind when we designed the tool was ease of deployment in enterprise environments. The tool allows resellers to define the optimum workstation configuration for a particular corporation's application set and then [remove] the machine dependencies," said Shawn Sanford, a Windows 98 product manager.

Windows 98 is not a quantum leap from Windows 95, but there are some significant improvements. The visual differences in the improved Explorer shell can be dramatic, giving resellers almost complete control over the user interface. Windows 98 allows more than just setting the desktop pattern: Custom toolbars, embedded Java applets and ActiveX controls allow immense control over displayed information.

Microsoft includes full native support for the Universal Serial Bus and IEEE-1394 standards. Many of the included utilities, most notably ScanDisk, Defrag and Backup, either have been enhanced or completely rewritten. A new system information utility provides a great deal of information about the computer and operating environment.

Another new feature, though long present in the Macintosh world, is support for multiple displays, where several monitors can be made to appear as one extra-large desktop. Also at long last, the 2.1-Gbyte barrier for hard-disk volumes has been broken. The new FAT32 system supports huge volumes. Existing FAT16 volumes can be migrated to FAT32 through an included utility, but a physical drive already partitioned into multiple logical drives cannot be linked together into one large volume.