Comparison between Windows 98 and Windows XP

This article discusses the difference that existed between Windows 98 and Windows XP.

Windows 95 and Windows 98 were almost identical and had a close resemblance. Windows 95 was the first major release from Microsoft which supported the then new 32 bit architecture. Both had almost the same interface and features. They both were a great success in the market of software and was one of those products which revolutionized the software industry pushing their creator Microsoft to a lead which has since then never been challenged. They captivated the users with their features which were unseen till then. They were fast, and got the job done well pretty easily and were pleasant. The menus looked better than any other Operating System at that time and made the computers more accessible to the common man than any other product in the market of their time.

But that was not all. UNIX Operating System line on the other hand had some features which were unknown to the windows family of the Windows 95 series. One of the major problems on the Windows 95 was that there can be only one user using the system at a time while the UNIX family had a feature of supporting more than one user using the system simultaneously since its early releases. These challenges were what had made Microsoft think over making more than one user work on the system since lot earlier. While a common user was unknown about how Microsoft was trying to tackle this problem, they silently were working on a completely different line of Operating Systems which was called "Windows NT family". All the NT Operating Systems released till then by Microsoft failed on their faces due to problems from poor performance to system instability. Windows 98 on the other hand was doing a great business.

Windows NT did not get any notice in the world till the release of its 4th version popularly known as "NT 4". Windows 2000 and then Windows XP were the first implementations of NT family which were major hit. Technically speaking Windows 2000 is version 5.0 on the NT series and Windows XP is version 5.1. The two (Windows 2000 and Windows XP) have very little difference except the looks and a few performance enhancements given to Windows XP compared to Windows 2000. Hence we compare Windows XP here (given its popularity). Windows XP brought quite a few new features on the desktop. We can count some of them as below:

1. Looks of Windows XP: looks define how the system appeals to the user. The better the looks, better its appeals and hence better is the sale. This was one of the reasons why Windows XP was more popular than Windows 98 or even Windows 2000 which was technically almost identical to Windows XP. It was the first to implement a new service called as "themes" which was able to change the appearance of the Operating System. It was this service which allowed the third parties to develop the products which could make the magic of new looks come alive.

Apart from this, the icons got a major facelift and the applications looked new as well. With the release of Windows XP, most other software including Microsoft Office came with new features and worked better than ever.

2. More than one user: Windows 98 could not allow more than one user at a time hence limiting the use of the computer to one person only. While you could create more than one profile, they were of almost no use as one could use someone else's profile without password. There was no "switch user" facility which would allow one to leave his or her session open and allow someone else to use the computer for the time being. This was one feature which could turn your computer into a server. You could just install an FTP service and turn your computer into a true server.

3. Security in Windows XP: Security is one aspect of our digital as well as real life which is never enough. Windows 98 on the other hand almost no security at all. You could use the computer without any password at all (?) and there were no private folders and you could not provide any security to those files which you thought were private. Windows XP (or Windows 2000) brought the concept of using the passwords. Entering the password wrong would deny you the access to the system. Hence you could be sure that system cannot be used by someone who does not have an account on the system. Also, the "My Documents" folder could now be secured and all the files and folders inside it would not be visible to other users.

4. More stability: On Windows 98 one could run into a problem which would hang the whole system anytime and the only way to come out was to press Ctrl+Alt+Del twice and the system would reboot. This was because the memory allocated to the different programs running on the system was not protected from each other and one could accidentally manipulate the memory of the other application and the system would hang without any notice. This was a major problem. Even I have lost a lot of time recreating the same documents on Windows 98 when I forgot to save my work and the system would hang and I had to reboot! Windows XP maintains the security among the applications by introducing the memory protections to the applications so that one application does not corrupt the other.

5. New file system: The word "NT" stood for "New Technology" and so the new file system "NTFS" stood for "New Technology File System". This new file system had many improvements over the previous FAT file system. One of the features was that NTFS could encrypt your data and that meant added security. You could lock up your folders anywhere on the system if you were a system administrator. Also, it avoided the data loss in many different situations. Data corruption during an operation was almost gone and that meant that you have 'peace of mind'.

These new features in Windows XP were what made the whole world shift from Windows 98 to Windows XP and they are still using it! Windows XP was in all true senses a revolution to the computer industry.

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