You’ve read the newspapers, seen the television coverage, now welcome to Bill Gates and the Microsoft Corp Windows95 road show. The first of a whistle-stop tour, organised in conjunction with Microsoft partner Computacenter Ltd, featured the man himself, positioning the now-fabled product in relation to technological innovations past, present and future. Past, the Intel Corp chip and ever increasing speeds enabling Windows95 to happen. Present, electronic mail, ISDN and the Internet, oh yes and the Microsoft Network, for successful computer-to-computer connection. And future? – personal computers in every home and on every desk, modems with speech and data, every computer and television connected to a network, the computer wallet replacing keys, money and li nked to a satellite Global Positioning System – such as the one Bill Gates and Craig McCaw hope to create – and presumably all using Microsoft software. All right, so Bill Gates said nothing particularly new, but did he need to? The Windows95 operating system, with Office 95, the upgrade to the spreadsheet, word processor, database applications package, is bound to have its bugs, and it will certainly have its critics, but let’s face it, there will be little that can’t be done using these tools, and be done quickly and easily. With multi-tasking it is now possible to run a spreadsheet, print a document, and download a batch file at the same time. An Excel spreadsheet can be turned into an Access database just by dragging and dropping it into the database. Office Binder enables users to print files from different applications as one document, for example a piece of text, a spreadsheet and an Access report. Electronic mail users now get to use the full Word word processor as a mail editor, while Schedule+ not only plans and books meetings and appointments, but enables information to be downloaded into a special Timex Data Link Watch to keep the user on schedule. Programmers will find Visual Basic for applications in both Excel and Access, as well as Object Linking & Embedding support and a host of programmable objects. There is also advanced support for systems administrators, enabling remote access to personal computers for problem-solving, and instant information on the configuration of all machines on a network. Perhaps most importantly, new Answer Wizards enable users to type in questions in everyday English, and get step-by-step help with their problem or query. The entire road show presentation was mounted using Windows95 and Office 95, including videos, Powerpoint presentation slides, and live demonstrations of the software. OK, so the Plug ‘n’ Play demonstration didn’t work, and the multi-tasking was done on a machine with 24Mb of RAM, but it’s easy to knock success. Bill Gates’s speech itself may not have set the world alight, but setting fire to all his money would, and media hype or not, the success of Windows95 is bound to make lots of other grown men cry.
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