By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 1998, The Syracuse Newspapers
Hundreds of myths have ballooned around Windows and PCs in general for years. I like collecting these myths and bursting them. Here are 10 that win my prize for Dimbulb Mistruths of the Year.
Myth 10: Windows 95 can't handle more than 64 megabytes of memory. Fact: Many PCs are set up so that memory past 64 megabytes isn't cached. Memory caching speeds things up. The extra memory is still used. (Windows has no part in this PC cache limit.)
Myth 9: DOS games won't run under Windows 95. Fact: DOS games are older-style programs that create their own menus and windows instead of using the ones built into Windows (among many other differences). Most of them run perfectly well under Windows 95 and Windows 98.
Myth 8: Windows 95 takes a long time to start up. Fact: Windows 95 actually starts up quite quickly. You can confirm that yourself by installing Windows 95 onto a fresh hard drive and timing the startup process once it's finished installing itself. What takes a long time is the long list of programs you (or your company's computer department) added to Windows. These include unnecessary network software (Windows usually does fine with its own), large anti-virus programs, installation monitors, assorted utilities and porky items such as Internet chat programs. Load them all at bootup, and you might as well go shopping while your PC comes to life.
Myth 7: If you lose the so-called CD key (registration number) for your Windows or Microsoft Office CD, you can't install Windows or Office again. Fact: Use any key or number from a current CD copy of Windows or Office.
Myth 6: PC manufacturers are forced to put Windows on the PCs they sell. Fact: Since there's no competing PC operating systems that do the same thing Windows does (and one could argue that there's no competing systems at all), PC manufacturers put Windows on their PCs because their customers would never buy their PCs without an operating system. It's that simple.
Myth 5: Microsoft should have built keyboard launchers into Windows. Using the mouse to click through the Start Menu is tedious. Fact: The most underused feature of Windows 95 surely is the keyboard hotkey system, which will launch any program or open any folder from the keyboard. It can be set up from any shortcut, yet very few users seem to bother. (Are they the same ones who complain that there is no hotkey system?)
Myth 4: Turning your PC off while Windows is running corrupts Windows and might force you to reinstall everything. Fact: Turning the PC off instead of using the Shut Down function leaves files open, and those files could be lost. But Windows is not harmed.
Myth 3: Macs are less expensive to use over a long period than Windows PCs. Fact: For corporate use, this is nearly always false, because PCs cost much less and are much easier (and cheaper) to fix. For home use, PCs are much cheaper than Macs. (Try buying a new, fast Macintosh for $800.)
Myth 2: Microsoft's own programmers (the ones who create such programs as Microsoft Word) have a huge advantage, because they know the secret ways that Windows works and can exploit them in their programs. Fact: Windows does have undocumented features, and Microsoft's top engineers are obviously more likely to share their private information with the software designer down the hall than with a competitor. But anyone who has used both Windows and such programs as Microsoft Word and Excel will know right away that they handle many operations differently, for no good reason. Microsoft's engineers need to do more collaboration, not less.
Myth 1: Internet Explorer takes over the computer, leaving you no choice. You can't use another Web browser. Fact: Just install any other Web browser and run it. There are no technical limitations to how many different browsers you can install and run.