How long would you last on a Windows 98 PC in 2017?
Microsoft Windows 98 was a turning point in the history of computing, bringing about Plug-n-Play, USB support, and a true native graphical interface that no longer needed MS-DOS to run, let alone support for 32-bit applications, and 3D accelerated graphics.
How relevant and useful would Windows 98 be today? And most importantly, would you be able to use a Windows 98-era PC for daily tasks in 2017?
To answer this question, YouTube user Oldtech81 has conducted this experiment, using a Compaq Armada e500 laptop, loaded with Windows 98, the operating system for which this delightfully retro piece of technology was originally intended.
Considering that this laptop first left the warehouse almost twenty years ago, a few glitches were to be expected. The display, for instance, shows a thick green line running vertically across the left side of the screen, and the display portion itself is very loose, with the hinges no longer capable to support the weight of the screen.
With that said, the laptop itself, in its former glory, was rather high-end, with some pretty powerful specs for its time.
With regard to today’s applications, the laptop does come with at least one USB port, and a LAN port, as well as a VGA port for an external display to plug into.
Alongside the legacy floppy disk drive, a printer port, and a COM port, this laptop also features a CD-ROM drive, and an expansion card slot, as well as a removable battery, for which this Compaq model was famous in regard to a number of incidents linked to safety issues.
Even today, this is a machine that is still pretty responsive, considering its age and software available. Needless to say, for the purpose of this experiment, Oldtech81 couldn’t have opted for anything too modern in regard to leisure, productivity, or web browsing software.
By such standards, the choices are a little limited. Microsoft has long discontinued support for Internet Explorer 6, and Office 2016 isn’t likely to run very smoothly, or install at all.
With safety in mind, using IE6 would not be practical on a daily basis, which calls for something a bit more high-end and supported, such as Opera, currently one of the few browsers that still support legacy operating systems.
In regard to productivity, Oldtech81 opted for OpenOffice, a free productivity suite similar to Microsoft Office, which is written for many desktop and mobile operating systems, including legacy ones as old as Windows 98.
Video playback may be a little problematic, due to new codecs and standards that have left Windows 98 way behind. Fortunately, there are ways around some of these issues, provided a third party video player like Video VLC, even if DVD’s and BluRay movies are out of the question.
Finally, playing modern video games, even the most graphically basic ones, is largely impossible, as Windows 98 is incompatible with any reasonably optimized version of DirectX, and compatible graphic drivers and libraries. On the upside, those with a soft spot for old-school games like the original Duke Nukem, Doom, and Carmageddon, will appreciate the blast from the past.
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