Q. I keep hearing that Windows 98 is the last of the Windows operating systems and that we’ll have to learn to run yet another new one called NT. What’s the scoop?
A. There’s some truth to what you say. Some months ago Microsoft announced that Windows 98 will be the last to use the “old” operating system technology. However, Microsoft just released an update to Windows 98 to correct some minor bugs—and some wags are labeling it Windows 99. Early next year Microsoft is scheduled to introduce Windows 2000, an operating system based on its New Technology (NT). Windows 2000, which is targeted to business, will be optimized to run business applications. For the home, Microsoft soon will introduce a modified NT operating system called Millennium. Unlike Windows 2000, it will be optimized for the kinds of activities nonbusiness PC users frequently engage in: sharing photos, watching videos and listening to music.
But I detected an edginess to your question about having to learn yet another Microsoft system. While it’s true that Microsoft’s Windows run most of the world’s computers, the company is facing some unique competition from both the Apple computers and an operating system called Linux. The operating system came out of obscurity a few years ago; it was developed by a young Finnish college student, Linus Torvalds, and then offered free to programmers to develop further. Copies of the program are still being offered free, but a handful of companies have developed enhanced editions of Linux with documentation and sell them for under $50—and that’s not just for each user but for an entire network. It’s estimated that Linux has already grabbed nearly 10% of today’s market, and that number continues to grow. Recently, some large organizations dropped Windows and turned to Linux. Their reasons: Not only is Linux cheaper, but it’s nearly crash-proof.
If you want more information about Linux, do a keyword search on the Internet. There are hundreds of sites.