Windows 98 works better than Windows 95 in dozens of ways, but the one that matters most is its enhanced stability. However, it's hardly crash-proof.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983
Windows 98: Stable and fast, as well as 'new and improved'
March 29, 1998
By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 1998, The Syracuse Newspapers
Microsoft performed an unusual feat in its test version of Windows 98. The company made the beta version of Windows 98 more stable than the current version of Windows 95.
Beta software -- "beta" means it's still being tested -- is always buggy in one way or another. (That's why it's "beta," a term programmers use for unfinished software.) But it's highly unusual to produce a beta program that works better than the thoroughly tested software it replaces.
Windows 98, which is likely to be publicly available in late June, works better in dozens of ways, but the one that matters most is its enhanced stability. It's hardly crash-proof -- anyone can make a Microsoft program of any kind misbehave by trying hard enough -- but it's a paragon of temperance compared to its weak-willed predecessor. In many ways, Windows 98 seems as solid and crash resistant as its high-priced cousin, the industrial-strength Windows NT.
Some of this comes from improved program code in the main portions of the Windows 98 operating system, and some of it results from seemingly minor changes in the way Windows 98 does other things. (One change, for example, lets Windows handle the all-important Registry better.) A big help is the way the different parts of Windows 98 work together: Unlike the current version of Windows 95, which Microsoft heavily patched to fix problems, Windows 98 has all the improved code in place, working properly from the start.
Under Windows 95, my PC sometimes froze up when I was doing many things at once while connected to the Internet. This has not yet happened under Windows 98, even though I've tried to set up the same situation many times. I've also noticed that PC-to-PC networking runs more smoothly under Windows 98 -- a good sign for the coming introduction of cable Internet connections, which actually use a form of high-speed networking rather than the standard method of low-speed modem linkups.
Other ways that Windows 98 behaves better and shows better integration than Windows 95:
Dozens of other improvements come to mind, but Windows 98 does have a few annoyances. Here's a short list: