Win 98: the verdict

End users have been prodding, pinching and pulling Windows 98 for several weeks now. So what's the verdict? One common complaint revolves around the old bugbear, add-on peripherals that won't. Minor but irritating bugs - both new ones and some that are unresolved from Win 95 - are also being reported.

A number of video drivers in Win 98's driver information file are still in beta version, said Stefan Kreideweiss, proprietor of South Australian solutions provider Compuorder Systems Australia.

"It knocked my socks off when I opened the file and saw that not just one or two, but quite a number were still in the beta stage.

"These are drivers that Microsoft supplies as native when an end user doesn't have a driver supplied with the card or chip by the manufacturer. Perhaps Microsoft forgot to update the drivers or the manufacturers didn't supply them in time," he said.

"Either way, end users normally expect when they buy a final version of the operating system, they get final versions of the drivers too."

Win 98 has some "minor but irritating" bugs left over from Win 95 as well as some new ones of its own, Kreideweiss said.

Look out

In the new bug category, opening a file for editing in Windows Explorer causes the file to lose its alphabetically sorted spot in the directory, he said.

"It reappears on the end of the directory so you have to scroll down to find it, which is pretty minor but irritating."

Then there is the case of the button in Outlook Express that was missing in Win 95 and appears to have remained in limbo with Win 98.

"There should have been a button in Win 95 to allow you to click back to the mail inbox folder in Outlook Express. It wasn't there and it still isn't implemented in Win 98," said Kreideweiss.

According to Ian Abela, a senior sales consultant with Sydney reseller Meghead: "What we're hearing about are driver problems with video cards, especially on the 3D effects side."

Not on the cards

End users slotting in some graphics accelerator cards, for example, are discovering they need to get an updated driver before Win 98 will recognise them.

Brisbane reseller Techmart has struck problems with Win 98 wrongly detecting some cards during pre-installs. However no service calls have come in from customers for Win 98, said workshop manager Chris Goss. "There is no comparison between this and Win 95 calls in the same period when it came out," he said.

Support lines have also been surprisingly quiet over at Harvey Norman, where the chain is now going through the 30,000 level in Win 98 sales.

"We haven't been overworked with customer frustrations about technical bugs," said computer department general manager Tony Gattari.

"But we didn't expect many because this is just an evolution of the product, not a ground breaking development."