Are you ready to upgrade to Windows 95?
by Alan Zisman (c) 1995. First published in Our
By now, you're probably sick and tired of all the hype
95. Nevertheless, you may be wanting to move your computer to this
system. Are you ready?
Before trying, take a little time to prepare your
system for the upgrade
and save yourself time and frustration later.
-- Do you have enough ram and hard drive space?
Windows 95 claims to
need a minimum of 4 megs, but performance is so poor on machines with
amount of ram, that I'd suggest you put off upgrading until you have a
system with 8 megs or more.
You'll need at least 50 megs of free hard drive space.
If that's all
you have, you may think about getting a new hard drive-- they're one
component that has dropped drastically in price. New Windows 95
will take up more space than their older equivalents.
There are all sorts of rumours about what sort of CPU
you need to run
Windows 95-- some people claim it really needs a Pentium or a high-end
Windows 95 will run at about the same speed as Windows
3.1 on a 386-DX,
if you have at least 8 megs of ram. An 8 meg 386-33 will perform much
than a 486 or Pentium with 4 megs.
-- Run a virus check... some users are finding that
they had viruses
lurking on their computers, which crash the Win95 installation
around disk 2. Even if you're installing from the CD version, check for
viruses first-- Win95 doesn't include a virus check utility, the way
5 or 6 did.
-- Simplify your system. If you're using a Windows
shell program, such
as Norton Desktop, PC Tools, Dashboard, or some other, go back to
Manager. (You do this by checking your Windows SYSTEM.INI file for a
starting "SHELL=...", and editing it to read "SHELL=PROGMAN.EXE").
If you are running QEMM in your CONFIG.SYS, go back to
the DOS defaults,
HIMEM.SYS and EMM386.EXE. You can always go back to using QEMM later,
you have a recent enough version)... but some of its advanced features,
such as Stealth or DOSUP will no longer work. And you may find you no
need QEMM to run DOS programs, such as games, under Win95.
-- Think about your other hardware. Windows 95
supports more video cards,
sound cards, printers, CD-ROM's, and other peripherals, right out of
box, than any other PC operating system... but it doesn't support
In many cases, there are simple workarounds-- your sound card may work
as if it was a Sound Blaster, your printer may emulate an HP LaserJet
In other cases, you may be able to run your old DOS or Windows drivers.
Despite this, some peripherals simply don't work with
Windows 95-- at
least not until the manufacturers come up with Win95 drivers. Win95
include any scanner drivers. My HP Scanjet 2C scanner, however, works
with the old DOS drivers. But Microtek scanners don't seem to work--
even with their old Windows drivers. Similarly, there are no drivers
for digitizing tablets.
Microsoft has published a hardware compatibility-list;
it can be obtained
from their internet site: http://www.microsoft.com, or from other
-- CD or floppy? If you have a CD drive, that's the
way to go. It's
much quicker and easier to install from a single CD disk than from a
or so floppy disks. As well, the CD as a bunch of extras not found on
floppies-- some fluff, like sound schemes, video clips, and promos of
Microsoft products. But also some useful utilities-- LFNBK.EXE for
older backup programs with Win95's long file names, SLIP drivers for
Internet, QuickView to look at data files without opening their
and more. And the CD includes the full text of the Win95 Resource Kit--
otherwise a $49 book. The printed documentation that comes in the box
mercifully be described as brief-- if you want any technically-oriented
information, you want the Resource Kit.
-- As with most applications, you have a choice of
or Custom installation... Custom asks the most questions, but gives the
user the most flexibility-- you may want to choose it. Typical is
a safe choice; it doesn't install everything, but you can use the
Panel to add anything that you later discover you want. (For example,
Typical option doesn't install the files needed to connect to the
-- If you like, you can choose, during the
installation to SAVE SYSTEM
SETTINGS. This allows you to get back your former DOS and Windows 3, if
you decide Windows 95 is not for you... by simply clicking on the
option in Control Panel. It really works, but takes an extra 6 megs of
drive space... and is only available if you choose this option during
For even more flexibility, if you have a lot of hard
drive space, you
can keep both your old DOS/WINDOWS and Windows 95, and choose at
which one to run. This could be handy if you suspect that some of your
software or hardware will not support Windows 95.
To do this, choose, during setup, to install Windows
95 into a different
directory from your current Windows. This has some real advantages, in
any case... a 'clean' install avoids junk files and system settings
over from old Windows software, and can improve performance, in some
Unfortunately, installing Win95 into a new directory,
means you have
to reinstall all your software, fonts, etc. This is tedious, but lets
decide whether you really need everything you've accumulated. A good
for a computer-housecleaning.
Afterwards, you need one more trick to give your
system dual-boot capability.
The DOS system file, MSDOS.SYS, has gotten a new life under Win95...
now a text, configuration file, and has a long list of possible
that can be altered by the user.
As before, this file is hidden, to prevent
You can right click on it in Win 95's Explorer, and choose Properties
to change its attributes, or from a DOS prompt, type:
ATTRIB -H -R -S MSDOS.SYS
and then open it in a text editor such as Windows
Notepad or DOS Edit.
You'll find it resembles a short INI file, with a few
sections in [brackets],
followed by settings that are either turned on ( =1 ) or off ( =0 ).
Find the section labeled [options] and add a line
to enable dual boot. (You can also change the line
that currently reads
'BootGui=1' to'BootGui=0' if you want to boot to a DOS prompt instead
all the way to Win95).
From your DOS prompt, type
Use Explorer or the DOS command ATTRIB +H +R +S
MSDOS.SYS to rehide
MSDOS.SYS... when you reboot, when you see the text message "STARTING
95", if you press F4, you will boot to your old DOS. If you press F8,
get a menu with a variety of boot-up choices.
(Don't delete the AUTOEXEC.DOS, CONFIG.DOS,
and IO.DOS files-- these are the old system files you need to boot to
old DOS. And when you're in your old DOS, don't delete *.W40-- these
your Win 95 equivalents).
-- Let Windows 95 control your swapfile. Many Windows
3.1 users discovered
that they could improve performance by using a Permanent Swapfile. But
then, most realized that Windows asked for far too big a chunk of their
hard drive for this swapfile, and that more wasn't better-- giving
3.1 all that it asked for could actually slow your system down, besides
tying up far too much of your hard drive.
Win95 does things differently... it creates a dynamic
grows and shrinks as needed. You can change this, and force it to use a
fixed-size swapfile, by fiddling with Control Panel's
settings. Don't do it. Windows 95 is much smarter about this than the
versions-- and in almost all cases, fiddling with its default swapfile
-- Don't use your old DOS or Windows disk utilities
Win95. They aren't compatible with the new Long File Names. If you
feel like you MUST run one of these programs, get a copy of the
utility first (it's on the Win95 CD, or available for download), and
it to back up the long file names, before running your disk utility.
95 includes usable versions of SCANDISK and DEFRAG (along with a so-so
backup program)-- use these instead of older utilities, or upgrade to
-- Find the Easter Egg. Many programs include some
cute, hidden routine,
often showing the 'credits'-- who worked on the software. To see the
of the Win95 development team, try this trick:
Right click on an empty spot of your Win95 desktop. A
menu will pop
up; choose New, and then Folder. A new folder will be created on the
with the name "New Folder" selected, waiting for you to rename it.
Type (exactly as written):
and now, the moment you've all been waiting for
then, right-click on the folder, choose Rename, and
we proudly present for your viewing pleasure
Right-click again, again choosing Rename, and type:
The Microsoft Windows 95 Product Team!
Double Click on the folder icon to see the animated
Windows 95 is a much more capable operating system
than previous versions
of DOS and Windows. With the huge amount of software and hardware
its amazing that it manages to be so compatible with so many systems...
still, it isn't perfect. Some care and attention before and during
can help save a lot of grief later.