Microsoft divides the new or improved features of the Windows98 operating system into five categories. Each category represents a benefit to the user (i.e. Enhanced Reliability and Performance). The table below groups the new features in a slightly different manner. Additional information about Windows98 features can be found at Microsoft's Windows 98 Beta 2 Release - Feature Overview.

It is important to note that the table below contains a list of only those features released in the current Windows 98 Beta. Additional features may be added to the final product.

CATEGORY

FEATURE

DESCRIPTION

System Tools Disk Defragmenter
Optimization Wizard
This utility is designed to reduce load times for frequently used applications. It acomplishes this by logging file use and then rewriting files in a contiguous space. In this way, the utility is able to eliminate random access of the hard drive. Early tests show the utility to be most effective on those systems which have converted to FAT32.
Windows System Update This utility uses ActiveX technology to automatically update your system files and drivers by downloading newer files over the internet.
System File Checker Utility This program tracks changes made to important system files and enables the user to revert to previous configurations.
Windows Tune-Up Wizard This utility schedules regular maintenance tasks (i.e. scanning disk for errors, purging unnecessary files, and performing disk defragmenting).
Dr. Watson Utility This utility is designed to intercept software fault errors and display a detailed summary of how and why the error occured.
New Backup Utility This application now supports SCSI tape devices
New Accessibility Tools These two tools are designed to further assist users in adapting Windows' options to their own preferences.
FAT32 The new operating system contains an improved version of the FAT file system that enables it to more effectively use disks capable of containing over two gigabytes. The system also includes a graphical conversion utility designed to ease the conversion from the old to the new format.
Help & Technical Support Windows 98
HelpDesk
This enhanced help package links the user to both local and Internet resouces.
System Troubleshooter This tool automatically performes a series of troubleshooting steps to determine configuration problems
System Information Utility This utility is designed to aid technical support personel by gathering and compinling system information
Hardware Support Broadcast Architecture The new Windows 98 will allow users with an installed TV tuner board to receive television and other data signals from broadcast networks. The new operating system also provides users with an interactive program guide which is updated continuously. Users can access programs directly from this guide. Where available, users of the new operating system will be able to receive Internet content directly from broadcast networks.
Misc. Hardware Support The new Windows 98 will also support Universal Serial Bus (USB), Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP), Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) [particularly useful for notebook computer users], and Digital Video Disc (DVC)
Multiple Display Support Windows 98 allows the use of up to eight monitors on a single computer.
IrDA Support Windows 98 has added support for infared connectivity.
PCMCIA Support Windows 98 has added support for PC Card32, 3.3 volt cards, and multifunction cards like the common ethernet/modem card.
Multi Media ActiveMovie This format greatly increases the ability of Windows 98 to handle popular multi media files (MPEG Audio and Video, .WAV adio, AVI video, and QuickTime video).
MMX Support The new Windows 98 takes advantage of the new Intel MMX technology.
Misc. Enhancements Easier Setup Microsoft has attempted to streamline the setup process by automating many of the setup options included in Windows 95. Users must access options from the control panel to customize their system after installation.
Faster Shutdown Windows 98 speeds shutdown by eliminating some unnecessary processes.
Internet Connectivity Integrated Shell Installation of the new Internet Explorer 4.0 which will be shipped with the new Windows 98 includes an option to turn on active desktop. This option acts to make Internet Explorer an integral part of the Windows 98 desktop. By selecting the active desktop option the user transforms the desktop wallpaper into an active HTML page that can encorporate information directly from the Internet. The option further alters the Windows interface by replacing the traditional windows explorer with the Internet Explorer. Folders and file views contain the same navigational buttons as does IE 4.0 and are transformed into HTML format so that a user can customize the view by adding additional information and scripts. The taskbar is also altered to include an address bar and links and favorites are added to the start menu for easy access. All in all, the Integrated Internet Shell seems to be the most significant change encorporated in Windows 98. Interestingly, this feature is available without cost from the Microsoft Internet Explorer Internet Page. See '98 Upgrade Now for more details.
Improved Dial-Up Networking Windows 98 improves Dial-Up Networking by enabling scripting and supporting the use of multiple ISDN or modem lines for increased transfer speed.
Browser Enhancements The new Internet Explorer included with Windows 98 provides support for many of the new Internet standards including Dynamic HTML. It also provides a slightly different interface with bonus features such as an improved history feature that allows the user to browse cache files.
Channels Internet Explorer 4.0 also makes use of the new push technology which enables a user to automate delivery of Internet information for offline viewing.
Additional Internet Tools Windows 98 will ship with several additional Internet tools including Outlook Express (an improved mail and news program that supports HTML formated text and can be set up to use multiple POP3 accounts), Net Meeting (an internet conferencing system), Front Pad (a simplified version of Microsoft Front Page 97), and Personal Web Server.
Support for PPTP PPTP (Point-to Point Tunneling Protocol) enables users to securely connect with a server over the Internet.
Other Features WDM, Windows System Update, and Windows Scripting Host WDM (Win32 Driver Model) provides a common driver model for both Windows 98 and Windows NT. Windows System Update enables a Network Adminisitrator to ensure that users have installed the latest drivers and file systems. Windows Scripting Host provides support for direct script execution.

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