Desktop IV Bonanza
O ne thing about the folks down at the Air Force Standard Systems
Group: They drive a tough bargain. Facing Air Force insistence that Windows 95 is an
upgrade to Windows 3.1 under terms of the Desktop IV contract, the two contractors had no
choice but to capitulate. Government Technology Services Inc. and Zenith Data Systems will
deliver the upgrades as needed.
Desktop IV may be on its last legs, but the Air Force is shrewd to nail down this
upgrade. After all, Desktop V computers, when that contract is eventually awarded, no
doubt will carry Windows 95 preloaded. The more Desktop IV computers it can get updated,
the fewer interoperability problems the Air Force will have down the line. (Have you ever
had the pleasure of trying to open a Win95 file with a 27-character filename while you're
running Windows 3.1?)
Naturally, Microsoft wins either way, but that's another story.
Judging from the personal computing marketplace at large, though, the upgrade deal
could be a yawn. Note that Microsoft recently reported a cooling off in Windows 95 sales.
That indicates people already running 3.1 aren't stampeding to upgrade. And for good
reason. If you bought your PC more than a year ago, it's likely to have too little memory
to comfortably handle Win95. Besides, to take advantage of "32-bitness," you'd
need to get new applications software, further emptying your wallet and overloading that
measly 240M drive.
And who wants the hassle of clearing out all the .ini files, installing the new OS and
hoping your apps still run?
On the other hand, it could turn out to be an unforeseen bonanza for GTSI and ZDS.
How? Although early Desktop IV computers may not be the best candidates for the free
upgrade, users who opt for it represent potential for juicy add-on sales of memory
products and CD-ROM drives to install the software.
And don't forget, Desktop IV buyers also get free applications upgrades for the life of
the contract, so a change in operating systems will drag along upgrades to things like
Microsoft Office 95. More impetus to beef up the machine.
The upgrade decree (which, along with the debate preceding it, was reported exclusively
in GCN) prompts a couple of other observations: