No product introduction in recent memory has received as much attention as the late summer unveiling of Windows 95, Microsoft's new PC operating system. By all accounts, the hoopla paid off, with eight million copies sold on the first day alone.
Don't feel pressured to scrap your old 3.1 or NT system. You may want to wait a few months until Microsoft and application developers squeeze the glitches out of Windows 95 products. But if you want to buy now, here is what computer experts say:
Don't make the switch unless you own at least a 33-megahertz, 486DX machine--and preferably a 66 megahertz. A pentium-based PC is even better. Secondly, you need at least 8MB of RAM--better still 12M bytes to handle some of the new programs that will be designed to run on Windows 95. Microsoft's Interactive Demo & Sampler program can help you evaluate your system for compatibility with Windows 95. For example, your printer might need an upgrade.
Set some time aside for installation, at least an hour--even more if you aren't a computer wizard. Following the Windows 95 introduction, Microsoft's help lines were flooded with calls from confused users.
You won't need to trash all your software. Most older programs designed for Windows 3.1 will work fine on Windows 95. However, to take full advantage of the new system's benefits, you'll need software developed for Windows 95.
Most experts say the benefits are worth the initial aggravation. Windows 95 makes PCs more user friendly, such as replacing the separate program manager and file manager with a single screen. "It took me about 10 minutes to figure out how to use it," says Kim Corbridge, a senior marketing manager with Intergraph. "I'm really impressed with it."
Windows 95 also offers true multitasking capability. An engineer will be able to run two applications at the same time, such as a CAD program and a spreadsheet. And you'll be able to easily share information between files, such as transporting a CAD drawing into a word processing file.
Windows 95, a 32-bit system, also delivers better memory management, which will substantially boost the PC's stature as a CAD platform, says Robert Webster, president of American Small Business Computers. That means faster operation and fewer system crashes. Engineers can expect to see a flood of new engineering software developed expressly for Windows 95. New versions of 3.1 software will be harder and harder to find. In short, Microsoft's technical prowess--coupled with a $150 million marketing campaign--will, in rather short order, make Windows 95 the world's dominant operating system.