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June 25, 1998
Rajesh Ramachandran in New Delhi
Windows 98, the much-awaited upgrade to Windows 95 was launched globally by Microsoft today.
In India, Microsoft officials refused to reflect the optimism of the public that Windows 98 would do better than Windows 95.
The launch party in a swank New Delhi hotel saw some resentment when a few news reporters alleged that Windows 98 was available in the United Kingdom almost a week ago.
Microsoft India Managing Director Sanjay Mirchandani refuted the charge, saying that as far as the company is concerned the global launch was scheduled for June 25.
The operating system would be available throughout the country from tomorrow. Around 200 PC manufacturers all over the world, including the top 25, are scheduled to ship the Windows 98 based machines at the earliest.
"The manufacturers have the wherewithal to sell the branded PCs with Windows 98 preloaded in them. I am sure that the option to buy a machine with Windows 98 could be exercised from tomorrow onwards," Rajiv Popli, Microsoft's director, OEM, told Rediff.
The Microsoft officials, however, failed to reveal the exact retail price of the software or the company's sales target. They could only say that the system would cost as much as Windows 95 and that the company expects to sell more copies than Windows 95.
However, Microsoft's Vertical Marketing Manager, Indian Subcontinent Region, Prashant Singh revealed to Rediff that the company had sold around 90 million copies of Windows 95.
The retail price, according to Popli, would be anywhere between Rs 7,000 and Rs 9,000. "We don't normally decide the pricing. We would leave it to the market forces to decide," he said.
The cost of upgrading from the earlier Windows systems to the latest would also be around Rs 7,000 according to Microsoft officials. Popli confirmed that the earlier Windows 3.11 system could be upgraded to Windows 98.
The new operating system is expected to be 30 per cent faster than Windows 95, saving time while opening applications, booting up the system, accessing the Internet and shutting down the PC.
Better disk space management, according to Microsoft, would save around 350 MB space. The Active Desktop recovery function would help the user search for the contents of various files without actually going into each file. Windows Update, a new Web-based resource site, allows registered users of Windows 98 to keep their PCs up-to-date by continually providing the latest drivers and operating system files on an on-going basis.
Microsoft also claims that the Windows 98 user can "do with the machine whatever can be done with a Television set". The support for DVD and digital audio delivers high-quality digital movies and audio direct to the PC or the TV.
The multiple monitor support for up to nine monitors with the same machine may help the user get entertainment simultaneously with work, it is suggested.
During the media conference, reporters expressed fears that due to the very tight Web integration in the operating system, it would not work properly on a PC without Internet connectivity. A Microsoft officer refuted the charge, saying that the any browser of the user's choice could be used with the programme.
No mention was made about the federal anti-trust suit against Microsoft in the US. But the officials explained that the case would not mean that the Windows 98 marketed in the US would be any different from that sold anywhere else in the world. "We would have a standard global product," Prashant Singh assured.
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