Windows 98 Vs. Windows Me Essay, Research Paper
Microsoft has remained at the top of the personal computer industry. It is the bar that other companies in their field must measure up to. The strong hold Microsoft has established is due in great part to the strength and popularity of their operating systems. Over the past year Microsoft has released Windows 2000, a network based OS to replace older Windows NT systems. For the home user Microsoft has released Windows ME (Millennium Edition) on September 14, 2000. Windows ME is a replacement for Windows 95 and 98. Although Windows Millennium Edition looks quite similar at a glance to Windows 98, it incorporates many improvements that are quite useful.
Windows 98 and ME share the same GUI (Graphic User Interface) that Microsoft has used since Windows 95. The task bar and desktop remain as they were, as does the start menu. Commands used in 98 are also used for ME such as Ctrl + Alt + Del to bring up the task manager. An inexperienced user could easily go from 98 to ME without even realizing the operating system had changed. An important feature for any new operating system is its compatibility with prior systems software. Windows ME is no exception to this, programs whether they are games or office software work as they did in Windows 98.
There are many differences between Windows 98 and Windows ME. These differences can be broken into hardware and software categories. Hardware means how the operating system reads and uses the actual components of the computer. This includes hard drives, CD-ROMs, Floppy Drives, as well as RAM (Read Access Memory), and expansion cards (modems, sound card, video card, etc.). Any program or other material on a drive can sum up software. Anything from an operating system to a computer game falls into the category of software.
Windows ME has introduced many easier methods to hook up and use hardware on a PC compared to Windows 98. Microsoft has expanded their possibilities for their users through Windows ME. Windows 98 supported up to 128 Megabytes of RAM, however there are now single chips that contain 512Mb of RAM. Windows ME has expanded the use of RAM, there is no limit on what the system will recognize and use. If a PC has three slots for RAM, and there were three pieces of RAM 512Mb each, Windows 98 would have only recognized 128Mb of RAM, where as Windows ME would recognize 1,536Mb of RAM (512 x 3). For the end user this means a ratio of 1:12 of increased speed. People often feel as though they are pulling teeth with a computer, just cannot get it to do what they want as soon as they want it. This recognition of more RAM will eliminate that wait.
Plug and Play hardware has become popular, and Microsoft realized that as they incorporated support for PnP in Windows ME. Many peripherals now use a USB (Universal Serial Bus) port to plug into a computer. This eliminates the need to have parallel ports for printers and scanners, and serial ports for game pads and cameras. Users can simply plug in any device to any USB port rather then trying to figure out what size plug fits which port. If a user has a bunch of wires jumbled together and has USB ports, he can simply plug in the USB plug into any of the USB ports and the computer will recognize the device. A strong point for USB ports is that Windows ME reads them actively, meaning when a web cam is plugged in, it is immediately installed. Through Windows 98 the user had to turn the computer off, plug the peripheral in and then turn the computer back on for it to be installed. Upon waiting for the computer to restart several times a user could get a cup of coffee and possibly make some toast. Imagine being able to get the cup of coffee and toast whenever you wanted it because you did not have to wait on your computer to restart again. After a camera is plugged into the system, the computer remembers it so a user can unplug it, plug in a different device and then plug the camera back in and the computer will not need to re-install it. Windows ME was built with on the fly technology where it will remember any device plugged in unless the user uninstalls it.
The software aspect is possibly more visible to common Windows users. In Windows ME there are safeguards to protect a user from unintentionally destroying the computer. By default Windows ME is set up to take a daily inventory of the system and remember all the settings from that day. This means if the computer crashes, Windows ME will give the option to do a System Restore where it will pull out what it remembered from the previous day and restore the system to that. All data between the last inventory and the point of crashing is lost, but that is minimal compared to what could have been lost. Another safeguard is the safe mode help. In Windows 98 a computer would start in safe mode when it detected something wrong, however it did not give a user any input as to what could be wrong. Windows ME has instituted help for this, when the computer starts in safe mode a help menu comes up with options for reasons the system needed to start in safe mode. A user simply has to click on what he did last and Windows ME will help you along the way. Microsoft definitely was looking to make Windows ME even more user friendly.
Common tasks within Windows ME have become made easier also. The use of the start menu has changed slightly. Windows ME compresses the menu, and shows only a small button to expand each menu. This allows a user to have only the programs he often uses appear at first. Once a program is clicked on, Windows ME remembers the program and has it appear next time the start menu is clicked. If a user wants a program that does not appear, he/she only has to click a small button at the bottom of the menu to bring up all the hidden programs. This is aimed at allowing a fast and useful menu for the user.
Windows 98 has a My Documents folder, and has a shortcut to it on the desktop. Files that a user commonly accesses should be placed here for quick access. The problem with the Windows 98 folder is that anything from pictures to reports are included in there. Windows ME has introduced a My Pictures folder where a user can put all their pictures into it and access them quickly and easily without having to shuffle through many different type of files that would have been in My Documents in Windows 98. In Windows ME folders have a more options to view its contents. The most obvious of these is the thumbnail view. This view allows a small picture of whatever the file is to appear in the folder. If the file is a picture, a small view of the picture is shown, if the file is a report, a small picture is shown of the report. This makes finding specific pictures or reports easy to find if the user is unsure of the file s name.
Multimedia is also a big selling point for most operating systems. Windows ME has included in it a redesigned Windows Media Player, as well as a moviemaker and even a DVD Player. DVD software can come at a price up to fifty dollars for the program. Windows ME includes it with its operating system.
Of course all comparisons must include the factor of price. A useful site is http://www.pricewatch.com. This site has in it the most popular stores on the web, and gives you the site with the lowest price for any item a user is looking for. With that said, Windows 98 is now selling for $20 at this site. Windows ME is selling for $36 from this site. This monetary difference is quite small to any user who can make use out of the features and differences mentioned above. My conclusion is that Windows ME is definitely worth the extra few dollars for the added features and ease of operation it has.
Microsoft again remains on top of the industry with another hit for the home user. Windows 98 is still quite popular and widely used, and an upgrade to Windows ME is easy to obtain. A home user is wise to update his/her computer s operating system to Windows ME, as the advances in technology is will slowly out do Windows 98, and Windows ME will be the norm. This software is well worth the money for all of its features and updates.