It's now three weeks, more or less, until the desktop software
version of a new millenium dawns. Windows 95, a new operating system, brings special
concerns to a government with tight operating budgets and a need to maintain an aggressive
pace of information technology infusion.
Much as it may frustrate everyone in the microcomputing food chain from hardware and
software manufacturers to end users, the simple fact is that Windows 95 is something that
must be dealt with. Every existing machine is in effect obsolete as of Aug. 24. That may
not be a technical reality, but it's a practical one.
From a purely technical standpoint, it is difficult to justify a headlong plunge into
this new operating system. We hear from many agencies that users already are clamoring for
it, while management, aware of the costs and complexities of an OS conversion, wants to go
slow. Dodge minivans come to mind. The old-style ones are still available. They may look
clunky next to the doodad-rich new ones, but, as my grandmother would have put it, they
take you where you want to go.
Microsoft says today that, unlike boxy minivans, the DOS/Windows combo still will be
available after August. But that's probably more public relations than product planning.
As for other software vendors, some already are creating versions of products that work
only with Windows 95. Case in point: Lotus and its Access 96.
Not to sell Windows 95 short. We've been running it here at GCN, and frankly it's a
good product. It incorporates a fresh interface, lots of built-in utilities and better
file, application, and hardware resource management than DOS/Windows. (We'll publish a
full review and analysis out of our labs later this month.)
But the government faces some problems with Win 95:
The lesson here is look before you leap.