Wind Me Down

From June 9 1995


The Windows 95 Roadshow

Sept 6 at ChCh Town Hall.

Welcome to the Bill Gates version of Hell.

I actually like the Stones “Start me up”. It has the raw energy of a
great band at the top (Tatto You – 1981, I have the album).

Unfortunately , they cut the song before “You make a grown man cry” which sums up a lot about Win95. After hearing the song intro
endlessly, it becomes reduced to an aural background. (pity)

The roadshow took up the Town Hall Limes room, mezzanine above the restaurant and the James Hay Theatre.

Along for the ride were about 20 local retailers of software and
hardware, desperately grabbing onto the coat-tails of the $200 million extravaganza. Micro$oft spent a lot on banners, brochures and boxes (most with Win95 printed on the outside).

I went through the exhibitions in about 20 minutes. There wasn’t a lot to see, just lots of computers with the Win95 desktop.

The most prosperous must be ComputerLand. They had coffee & sandwichs for the reps. The main event was Win95, and nobody was going to upstage the reason they were there.

More interesting was the two presentations :

Intro to Win95.

This started with deafening music and a light show. After 2 minutes of this I was expecting the dancing girls to come on !.
You can’t accuse Micro$oft of originality. The presentation was a
direct rip-off of Home Improvement. I hope Tim Allen was paid for it.

Two presenters looking like Tim & Al showed us what to spend our money on. They explained how Win95 supersedes DOS 6.22 by taking a chainsaw to a block of wood wrapped in the DOS 6.22 box.

This was followed by an intro to Win95, showing off the main features.
It ended by showing a full screen movie (with sound) under Win95. What they let slip was that to do this you need a Pentium with 16meg RAM. As he said “With a $4,000 computer you can now do what a $500 TV will do”.

I am still not convinced about Win95. They have changed the close icon from the top left of a window, to the top right. Why I don’t know. The concept of a simple front end menu (e.g. what you got on a 1981 PC) seems to have vanished. Overall, the interface is more complex, rather than simpler.

Some of the mouse movements aren’t intuitive. A lot of the menus start at the bottom left corner (“Start” icon), and move up and across, while holding the mouse down. This must be a problem for anyone with creaking fingers (the writer an exception). I find it easier to pull a mouse towards me than to push it away. Perhaps being left handed makes a difference, what do you think.

The OS doesn’t appear to be developed with touch-screen computers in mind. And it’s still based around applications, rather than documents.
Paper analogies are still used, and a cross-platform multi-media
standard was not mentioned.

Micro$oft Office Presentation

This was more interesting. Word, Access, Excel, Powerpoint and
Schedule were shown in their 32bit form (Access still in development).

The most interesting features :

* Auto underlining. Just enter “——-” in the line under some text,
and a full line will be created across the page.

* Word automatic capitalization. ie changing tHIS to This
and capitalizing the first letter of a new sentence. The
multi-threading really helps here.

* Exceptions list for acronyms to be excluded from the above.

* Automatic list generation. When you start a list, the WP
automatically adds the next number.

* Creation of relational databases from tables. This takes tables with
repeating data and creates a relational database.

* Incorporation of Schedule with network project management software.

* Powerpoint can use sound. (must check version at work to see if this is new)

So, for me the most interesting things were the improvements made to the Office package of applications. (At work I’m still using version 2 of MS Word ! ) Of course I could always use OS/2 with Office. 🙂

Despite my last message, Win95 does use proportional slider bars. It
appears that developers have the option, some don’t use it.