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New Microsoft Windows 98 offers features that make computers more fun (1998)

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Redmond, WA—All work and no play can make computers seem very, very dull.

Yesterday, Microsoft introduced the new Windows® 98 operating system, which includes features designed to make home computing faster, easier and more entertaining than ever before, including support for Universal Serial Bus (USB) devices. With the USB support of Windows 98, swapping in components such as joysticks, scanners and speakers is almost as easy as changing floppy disks.

"Windows 98, together with the wide new array of easy-to-use USB peripherals being created for the home such as scanners and digital cameras, takes us one step further to the PC becoming a true consumer device," said Stephen Whalley, chairman of the USB Implementers Forum.

And that's exactly what Microsoft set out to do.

"Windows 98 is the first version of Windows that we designed specifically for home users," said Gates. "As a result, this is the easiest version of Windows yet, and will help bring the power of the PC to new users worldwide."

Part of that power comes from USB peripherals, from which people will have plenty to choose. Manufacturers are developing more than 250 USB products, with an additional 100 expected within the next year, according to Whalley. Microsoft itself recently released the Microsoft® Sound System 80, a three-component speaker system that brings high-quality audio to desktop PCs.

Once people put those peripherals in place, Windows 98 also improves their overall computing experience.

Windows 98 speeds up performance, so programs will load faster. The operating system also uses hard-drive space more efficiently, and it includes new desktop navigation options and fully integrated Internet features. In addition, the enhanced 3-D support of Windows 98 makes for realistic game-playing, and the operating system supports DVD, a new storage medium that looks like a CD-ROM but provides better sound and video and can hold 15 times more information on a single disk.

Of course, a killer entertainment system requires powerful audio.

That's why Microsoft developed the Digital Sound System 80. This 80-watt, three-piece PC audio system includes two satellite speakers and a subwoofer with a built-in digital amplifier. The system accepts both digital and analog sound inputs, so it provides smooth, dynamic sound and tight, responsive bass whether people run it with Windows 98, non-USB systems or non-PC entertainment systems.

"Sound is an increasingly important part of the PC experience—and often the most overlooked," said Richard Brudvik-Lindner, product manager for Digital Sound System 80, when he debuted the system at last month's Electronics Entertainment Expo. "With multimedia developers using positional sounds and other audio effects to add drama and realism to games, music and simulations, good speakers become increasingly important to enjoying everyday computing."

And to ensure that people fully enjoy their new Windows 98 systems this weekend, Microsoft has increased its technical staff to a total of more than 1,000 support engineers and extended its technical support hours both this weekend and next.

Which means that should you have any questions about your new system, getting help won't take you away from playing for very long at all.