Such is the impact of the new wave of computing that, according to press reports, few of us have not bought at least 500 network computers in order to waste less time. Personally, I am looking forward to installing a network of NCs in my house, which will not only be cheaper than sticking a PC in every room, but will also be easier to maintain.
Having saved myself many hours by kicking out bloated Wintel legacy applications from my bathroom, I can use the accumulated time to do some of those jobs around the house that we technology people are always putting off. For instance, I look forward to arranging the patio for 2000-compliance and painting the banisters in readiness for Emu.
With such a wind of change blowing through my banisters, how on earth can poor Microsoft regain the initiative by helping people waste time at home? Soon, Bill Gates will be sitting in his house wondering why he missed the boat when it came to producing a singing washing machine and wishing that just one person would throw a custard pie at him again.
As one of our industry's good samaritans, I hope that when the time comes, I will be there to satisfy his wishes.
But I digress - Microsoft is more than the influence and experience of one man. If the company is to wrestle the crown of Official Supplier of Ridiculously Complex Technology to the Home back from the young pretenders, it needs to come up with something pretty impressive. At which point we see the reasoning behind the release of Windows 98.
Frankly, I'm disappointed that Microsoft says it won't make much fuss about Windows 98. It's calling it a 'point release'. Huh? At least when Microsoft was buying The Times for a day three years ago, organising big dinners with Jonathan Ross and towing giant software boxes around Sydney Harbour, we could all feel good about ourselves because people suddenly realised that geeks were successful people too. Our partners would say: 'At least I know what you do all day. It's pretty sad, and that rich guy with the glasses is very odd, but now I appreciate this is big business.' Later they would add: 'How rich? You don't happen to have his number, do you?' Ha ha, only joking, dear. This time around, I fear it may not be so much fun.
Despite sackfuls of email asking for the definitive comment on Windows 98, I have held off until now. The reason is not that I have some anti-Microsoft bias, or that I feel more in-depth technical evaluation is needed.
Even if it did, you're looking at the wrong bloke if you think I'm going to do it. It's actually because there doesn't seem to be a lot to say.
So then - Windows 98. Active Desktop looks OK, but if you have IE 4.01, you know that. You can single-click, it shuts down quicker and it'll update drivers automatically.
If anyone finds anything else, let me know. I'll be busy coping with the real challenges of home technology, like upgrading my televisual infrastructure in time for the World Cup.
Tim Phillips is a freelance IT journalist.
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