Windows 98 SE consolidates updates

The retail version of Windows 98 SE (Second Edition) will hit the shelves in June, consolidating the various updates for the OS since it was released last year, and adding one new feature: a gateway for sharing access to the Net across a LAN.

The retail version of Windows 98 SE will cost $169, while current users of Windows 98 can receive the updated functionality of the Second Edition by ordering from the Microsoft Web site, the Windows 98 Second Edition Updates at a cost of $13.95 including shipping and handling. I looked at the shipping version of the software.

The updates include a service pack, Internet Explorer 5 and NetMeeting 3, all of which can be downloaded from Microsoft's Web site. Windows 98 SE also offers support for more Universal Serial Bus and IEEE 1394 devices and includes richer support for advanced configuration and a power interface.

Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) is its one key new feature. ICS is simply a gateway that lets a Windows 98 SE-based machine act as a demand-on-dial router to the Internet for other computers on the local area network. ICS is ideal for sharing a single dial-up Internet connection in a small remote-office or home-office scenario.

Implemented with a wizard, ICS is easy to configure. It automatically reconfigured my network interface card to a fixed IP address, set up and activated a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) address pool on my Windows 98 SE system, and created a configuration floppy for use in automating the configuration of other systems to use ICS.

However, ICS's configuration is inflexible. For example, I could not select a specific IP address or private IP subnet range to use. Additionally, the DHCP server is limited to use within the same parametersWindows 98 SE shows some minor updates to Win 98 and is a convenient package for all of the operating system updates. If you are migrating to Win 98, consider this release. Otherwise, an upgrade may not be warranted.

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