Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 163 / APRIL 1994 / PAGE 4

Editorial liscence. (Microsoft's sneak preview of Window's 4.0) (Editorial)
by Clifton Karnes

Recently, Microsoft released a white paper that offers us an enticing sneak preview of Windows 4.0, code-named Chicago. (The complete text of this paper is available in COMPUTE's forum on America Online with the filename CHICAQA.ZIP. To access the forum, use the keyword COMPUTE.)

As you may already know, Chicago is the next version of Windows, designed to replace both Windows 3.1 and Windows for Workgroups. And from reading this paper, it looks like Microsoft is including stuff from almost everyone's Windows wish list.

The most important news about Chicago for most of us is that this new operating system is being designed to be completely compatible with current DOS programs, DOS device drivers, and Windows 3.1 apps. This means that everything you're running in Windows now should work fine under Chicago. The next question for most people is, Will Chicago run on my current system? Microsoft says that on a 4MB 386, Chicago will run as fast as Windows 3.1, but with a faster processor, more memory, or both, Chicago will be faster than 3.1.

How is Chicago going to be better than Windows 3.1? According to this

paper, there will be lots of improvements, but perhaps the most important advantage over Windows 3.1 is that Chicago will be a complete 32-bit protected-mode operating system. In other words, it won't sit on top of DOS the way Windows 3.1 does. And it will support preemptive multitasking, which means a faster, smoother, and more responsive system.

Microsoft isn't saying too much about Chicago's interface yet, but the system is being designed to be easier to use, and the paper does mention a system toolbar that will make it easy for us to manage applications. It's also worth noting that although the new interface appears to intergrate both File Manager and Program Manager into one shell, both of these apps will still be available, in case you'd prefer to use one of them as your interface.

Beyond this, Chicago's design is focused on what Microsoft calls a document-centric approach. This means that the operating system will make it easier for us to think in terms of the work we're doing rather than the applications that manage the work. OLE 2 is going to be the main vehicle Chicago uses to make documents the focus of our work.

In addition to these features, Chicago will also, according to Microsoft, fully support Plug and Play, which is a hardware-softare specification that makes it easy and foolproof to add hardware options to your system and remove them from it. Using Plug and Play, the computer will figure out how to configure interrupts, ports, DMA channels, and I/O addresses.

Tired of the eight characters DOS gave you for filenames in 1981? Well, we're finally getting long filenames in Chicago. And the system also boasts basic built-in file synchronization, so you can move files between computers and make sure your current system always has the most recent files.

Where does Chicago fit into Microsoft's Windows product line? As I mentioned earlier, Chicago is designed to replace Windows 3.1 and Windows for Workgroups, so when Chicago ships, there will be just two current Windows operating systems: Windows 4.0 and Windows NT.

When will Chicago ship? The Microsoft paper doesn't give a specific date, but says the second half of 1994. My guess would be the fourth quarter and probably late in that quarter. Christmas maybe. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to unwrap this package.