Microsoft is now releasing the newest version of it's Windows-95, Windows-98 family of operating systems. It's called "Windows M-E" for millennium edition. Question: is it worth your while to rush out and buy windows "ME" for your computer? The giant software maker hopes so. Microsoft is pumping out millions of copies of Windows ME for retail sale, expecting a big demand . At it's core, Windows ME is entirely different from Windows 2000, released earlier this year. That was an operating system meant mostly for businesses and advanced networking. Windows M-E is designed especially for home users -- in fact some say it's little more than a Windows-98 upgrade.
"It's Windows-98, but they've integrated many of the plug-ins people have been downloading from the Internet as add-ons, and combined them into a very slick, composite suite of applications," says Mike Stause of Heartland Solution Consultants. Should people spend the $60-$100 dollars to upgrade? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," says Stause, alluding to happy users of Win98 and Win 95. But there are some important new developments to Windows ME that may appeal to certain buyers. First of all, there's extensive enhanced multimedia applications. "This is attractive for those users who like to use 3rd-party applications to manipulate sound and video or picture files," says Stause. "Microsoft puts it all together so you can even edit your home videotape, and it makes it easier to deal with digital camera pictures, and e-mail them."
Something else that may interest users is a beefed up "restore" feature -- it allows recovery from system crashes with little hassle. There's also the choice of what's called "skins" for the look and feel of Windows -- just choose the one you like. And finally, there's extensive help menus, even deeper and broader than the already hefty help available in Windows 98. Windows ME comes in several different versions depending on whether you're using win 95 or win 98 already...but here's why you may not choose to buy....many of the modules incorporated in Windows ME that make it attractive -- like the enhanced multimedia and the new Internet Explorer 5.5 -- are already available for free as a download on the Microsoft web site.
Experts reviewing the software are all over the map in their evaluations of Windows-ME... Some say it actually runs slower, is more unstable, and is also prone to crashing. Still, the media enhancements and restore feature may be enough to persuade some users to buy.
So, bottom line: it's still your decision. One other note: if you buy a new computer anytime the rest of the year, expect to find Windows ME already installed as the operating system of choice. Computer makers like Dell, Compaq, H-P, and Gateway plan to use it as their default OS in new systems.