• Subject: Windows 98 - Keep it up Microsoft !!!! READ THIS !!!!
  • From: Chuck Lewis <CLEWIS@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998 00:42:50 -0400

Hello All,

Check THIS out...

                  Windows 98 disables
                  Microsoft competitors'

                  July 14, 1998
                  Web posted at: 10:45 AM EDT
                  by Brian Livingston

                  (IDG) -- The setup routine
                  for Microsoft's new
                  Windows 98 operating
                  system deliberately disables
                  files used by competitors'
                  software and installs different
                  versions of those files for the
                  use of Windows 98.

                  Windows 98 includes a new utility, the Version
Conflict Manager, or VCM,
                  to keep track of the disabled files and provide a way
for users to switch the
                  files back. But the Win98 setup routine does not
provide any notice to users
                  that the files are being changed or that the Version
Conflict Manager is
                  available if a competitors' software no longer
operates properly.

                  The changed files are DLLs -- small support programs
that are shared by
                  several applications -- as well as other shared files.
If the Windows 98 setup
                  routine detects that a competitors' program has
installed a newer shared file
                  than the version that comes with Windows 98, the setup
routine moves the
                  file to a new location, thereby disabling it. Win98
then installs an older
                  version of the same file into the proper location. The
application that
                  depended on the newer version of that file may no
longer work properly, or
                  it may no longer work at all.

                  Microsoft product manager Shawn Sanford
                  stated in an e-mail exchange, "We wanted
                  to be assured of a known, working baseline
                  operating system when we were done with
                  installation." This practice, however, places
                  competitors who rely on the newer files at a
                  severe disadvantage. Competitors'
                  applications may no longer work, but users
                  would have received no notice of the

                  In one test machine, the Windows 98 setup
                  routine disabled three shared files:

                       Twain.dll (supports
                       numerous scanners and other
                       Msconv97.dll 1997.4.2
                       W95inf32.dll 4.71.17

                  The files were replaced with these older

                       Msconv97.dll 1997.3.12
                       W95inf32.dll 4.71.16

                  The Twain file, of course, is a popular driver that
supports numerous
                  scanners and other devices. Files of this type usually
originate with Microsoft
                  and are distributed by the Redmond, Wash. software
giant to competitors
                  for use with its products. But Windows 98 appears to
rely upon earlier
                  versions and swaps the files, whether or not this has
a negative effect on
                  other installed applications.

                  The Version Conflict Manager lets the user select a
file and trade the older
                  version for the newer version. But a Win98 user
typically has no knowledge
                  of what applications use which shared files or which
version of each file
                  would be "better." Moreover, the utility is unlikely
to be found routinely by
                  users, because it is buried deep within Win98's menu
structure: Click Start,
                  Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System
Information, Tools, Version
                  Conflict Manager -- and then you will find it.

                  Ironically, the origin of the Version Conflict Manager
appears to have been a
                  series of four columns written I wrote from Sept. 2 to
Sept. 23, 1996. The
                  columns complained that Windows 95 allowed
applications to install older
                  versions of shared files over newer ones, causing
programs to crash. I urged
                  Microsoft to have Windows catch such conflicts and
prevent them, while
                  allowing the user to switch between shared files, if
necessary, later.

                  Rather than make the Version Conflict Manager
available to all applications,
                  however, "the VCM mechanism is only turned on during
Windows 98
                  install," according to Sanford. After Win98's setup is
over, the Version
                  Conflict Manager ceases monitoring the system. If the
installation of a
                  third-party application subsequently causes a problem,
the Version Conflict
                  Manager will have no information about the situation.

                  Any user who installs Windows 98 should check the
Version Conflict
                  Manager immediately after the setup routine is
complete to see if any shared
                  files were changed. The Version Conflict Manager
should show the names
                  and version numbers of any files the Win98 setup
routine modified. If this is
                  the case, I'll describe in my column next week how you
can tell what
                  applications rely on those files and whether you
should switch to the newer

                  Brian Livingston is the co-author of several
best-selling Windows
                  books, including the most recent Windows 95 Secrets
(IDG Books).
                  Send comments to brian_livingston@infoworld.com.
Unfortunately, he
                  cannot answer individual questions.

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