What are the Pros and Cons of Windows 95?
Tsui Siu Ki
No one will object that one of the major events in the PC world
in 1995 is the deployment of Windows 95. Is it really as fascinating
and powerful as it was advertised? In this article, the pros and
cons of Windows 95 will be investigated. Though the coverage may
not be complete, interested readers may use this as a reference
in deciding whether they should convert to Windows 95.
What is Windows 95?
Windows 95 is an operating system (OS) like MS-DOS or OS/2. It
is the successor of Windows 3.11/Windows for Workgroup 3.11 and
is intended to replace DOS and Windows 3.x. It is a high performance,
robust and backwards-compatible operating system designed to deliver
an integrated OS that offers modern 32-bit operating system technology.
The minimum configuration for running Windows 95 is a PC with
386 or better CPU, 4MB RAM and VGA monitor. However, for acceptable
performance, a 486DX2-66 with 8MB RAM and a Super VGA monitor
Some of the benefits and deficiencies of using Windows 95 will
be discussed in the sections followed. For more information on
Windows 95, refer to the FAQs and various articles and journals.
Most of them are available from the Internet.
Advantages of Windows 95
Compared to Windows 3.x, Windows 95 can :
- Provide better system responsiveness and smoother background
processing since it is a 32-bit protected mode operating system.
It allows pre-emptive multitasking and multithreading support
for Win32 applications.
- Protect the user's current investments. Other than Win32 applications,
most Windows 3.x applications and DOS applications run on it with
faster speed and improved system stability.
- Provide a newly redesigned graphical interface that is not
only easier to learn and use, but more efficient and more customizable.
- Improve user friendliness as it allows longer filename support
(up to 255 characters). MS-DOS 8.3 filenames are still maintained
and tracked by Windows 95 for compatibility with existing Win16
and MS-DOS based applications.
- Provide more efficient file and print support with faster
disk/file access and printing.
- Simplify the switching among multiple programs by means of
the task bar and lets the user launch applications and open documents
- Enhance multimedia support with built-in support for sound,
midi, fast CD-ROMs and digital video playback.
- Support better network connectivity with simpler and enhanced
network support for NetWare, Windows NT Server, Internet and most
major network standards.
- Reduce time spent on technical problems and simplify systems
management since Windows 95 renders Plug and Play support. Plug
and Play-compatible devices can be detected and configured automatically.
Users are free from the trouble of manual hardware setup and there
is no need to worry about IRQs, DMAs and I/O port addresses when
a new component is added to the system.
Disadvantages of Windows 95
Windows 95 is found to have the following drawbacks :
- Items dragging and dropping works on most folders except the
Control Panel, Printers, or Dial-Up Networking folders. This inconsistency
in the interface may confuse some users.
- Cannot pre-emptively multitask Win16 applications because
it uses the same System Virtual Machine (VM) model as in Windows
3.1 to run Win16 applications. Thus, Windows 95 will revert to
a cooperative multitasking environment when running Win16 applications
and give them exclusive control of the CPU for as long as the
applications are executing. As a result, true pre-emptive operation
is impossible when multitasking a mixture of Win16 and Win32 applications.
- System protection against buggy applications is weak as compared
to other 32-bit OS such as Windows NT and OS/2 Warp. Due to the
reason stated above, if a Win16 program hangs, it can tie up critical
16-bit code modules located in the System VM and halt all other
processes. To recover from this kind of system crash, the user
has to reboot the PC.
- There is a security hole with File and Printer sharing for
NetWare networks which may affect data security for corporate
users. If a Windows 95 user configures his machine to share files
and printers with other users on the network using File and Printer
Sharing for NetWare networks, and he enables remote administration
or install Microsoft Remote Registry Services, it is possible
for another user on the network to gain read-only access to his
machine. At the moment when the evaluation was done, Microsoft
has already issued an updated driver for File and Printer Sharing
for NetWare Networks to fix this bug.
- Windows 95 uses an easily cracked 32-bit key to store the
passwords in the PWL file. Again, while the evaluation was under
way, Microsoft has released an updated and enhanced security component
which uses a 128-bit key and includes enhancements to the way
passwords are stored in the PWL file.
In conclusion, despite its deficiencies, Windows 95 is still an
excellent choice for today's desktop operating system. Its improvements
on various areas over Windows 3.x and the additional new features
make it a flexible, powerful and robust operating system. With
Windows 95, a user can certainly unlock the potential of a computer.