(IDG) -- After months of waiting, an endless cycle of beta versions and "release candidates," ongoing legal wrangling, and inescapable hype, it all boils down to a simple question: Does upgrading to Windows 98 make sense?
The question may be simple, but it's not easy to answer. If Windows 95 was a great leap forward, Win 98 is a series of baby steps. No single feature of this $90 (street price) upgrade screams "buy me," and many improvements are available as free downloads or in recent Win 95 versions.
Ultimately, the new operating system's fate will be decided in court. Moreover, industrial-strength Windows NT 5.0 waits in the wings. It will incorporate most of Win 98's new features and should be more secure, stable, and manageable. With NT 5.0 due early next year, many users (especially corporate types) may wait before upgrading. To determine whether Windows 98 is really safe for human consumption, PC World's testing team spent countless hours installing and using the latest release candidates on a range of PCs, from 66-MHz 486 systems to 300-MHz Pentium IIs. The version we tested was very close to final code, though it didn't have every last tweak in place. Still, our informal testing shows the new operating system to be about as fast and at least as stable overall as Windows 95 (next month we'll publish final test results based on shipping code of the new operating system). Our conclusion: Windows 98 improves on its predecessor in ways that many users will appreciate. But it's not for everyone.
Many PC users own parts of Windows 98 already. Since Windows 95's debut, Microsoft has released a steady dribble of updates, plus new releases preinstalled on new PCs (called OSRs, or OEM service releases). All have been integrated into Win 98. ALSO: Message Board Post your thoughts on Windows 98 Windows 98 stories Virus in Win98 beats OS shipping date Windows 98 system tools can help or hinder Prepare your hardware for Windows 98 Windows 98 rescue disk lacks important component How fast is Windows 98? Windows 98: A convenience you can live with or without Computer users on Windows 98: It's not revolutionary http://community.cnn.com/cgi-bin/WebX?13@@.ee90a2d