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Upgrading Your Operating System: Microsoft comes up with new operating systems regularly and each one is an improvement over the previous one. This is essential to keep up with the advancements in computer technology. The real question is whether it is essential to upgrade your computer to these new operating systems each time they come out.

Windows 95 is a good operating system and Windows 98 is better with some important improvements. Windows 98 was then improved slightly by Windows 98 Second Edition. Now there is Windows 2000 and most recently Windows Millennium or Me as it is being called.

Windows 2000 is basically considered a business oriented operating system but Windows Me is being touted as the ultimate windows operating system for consumers. As a merchant who sells software, including operating systems, I guess I should be on the bandwagon to sell this latest version of Windows. There is no question that this is an excellent operating system but is it really in your best interest to upgrade your computer’s operating system?

Microsoft Quality: I don’t have any concerns about Microsoft quality. Many people are upset with Microsoft because they come out with their operating systems and then have to follow up with many patches and updates to deal with problems. I applaud them for continually improving their products. As a computer technician, it is obvious to me that there are simply too many potential combinations of hardware and software for any operating system to work flawlessly without patches and updates.

Minimum Requirements: My concern relates to the marketing of these new operating systems to consumers with older computers that fail to meet what I consider realistic minimum requirements. I believe that the minimum requirements for most operating systems are understated in order to increase sales. New operating systems are designed for and work best on new, cutting edge systems.

Older Pentium grade computers with less than 166 MHz CPU’s and only 32 megabytes or less of RAM are poor candidates for these new operating systems. I have seen some very spry 133 MHz units with only 16 megabytes of RAM running great with Windows 95 and then slow down to a crawl when upgraded to Windows 98. Adding some RAM memory improves their performance but not to the previous level.

Is your system doing the job: If your operating system is doing the job and you have no plans to upgrade or replace your computer, stick with Windows 95 or Windows 98. Both are good operating systems that can give you very good service if you take the time to keep them cleaned up. Don’t waste your time or your money trying to improve your computer by simply upgrading your operating system. The chances are you will be disappointed and if you don’t have some troubleshooting skills, you could wind up with a dysfunctional computer.

It is also possible that your computer will work but some of your components will not function properly. This happens because the drivers, the software that makes components work with the operating system, are not compatible. This can be a minor problem if the driver is available on the Internet. However, if no driver is available then that component will have to be replaced with one for which a compatible driver is available.

One Example: I have a prime example of this. I had my hard drives on racks so I can remove them and exchange them easily. My main hard drive was Windows 98 Second Edition and worked perfectly. I loaded Windows 2000 on another hard drive and it worked perfectly except there was no sound. My sound card was integrated into the motherboard and the driver I had would not work with Windows 2000 and there are no Windows 2000 drivers. I had to purchase a sound card that worked with both Windows 98 SE and Windows 2000 to resolve that problem.

So, no matter how attractive those new operating systems sound, make certain the improvements are worth the possible hassles that you could encounter.

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