REDMOND, Wash., June 10, 1999 — In today’s fast-paced society, families are finding it more challenging than ever to stay connected. Whether trying to keep in touch with relatives and friends around the world or just keeping track of the busy schedules of immediate family members, families are starting to take a cue from the business world.
Businesses of all sizes know the benefits of keeping key team members connected, using networking and Internet conferencing technology so that virtual teams can stay in touch and work together regardless of where their members are located. Families have many of the same needs, especially now that home PC’s have become an essential device for the business of running a home. Whether accessing the Internet to check movie times and do homework, or keeping track of personal finances, more and more home users are relying on PCs to enhance their lives. A newly released version of Microsoft Windows 98 meets the needs of the increasingly sophisticated home PC user, while also offering an incredibly easy-to-use solution for a first-time PC user.
For example, with Windows 98 Second Edition, a grandparent in Portland, Maine, can help a grandchild in Portland, Ore., with a family history project as easily as if they were living next door. Using NetMeeting 3, a conferencing software in Windows 98 Second Edition for videoconferencing, chatting and collaborating online, the grandparents can conduct a videoconference with their grandchild while simultaneously sketching out a real-time diagram of their family tree or collaborating on a document.
For Derek Jacobs, an entrepreneur from Canton, Conn., NetMeeting not only helps him stay in touch with this friends and family, but also helps to teach them how to use the latest technologies. “I have a sister in another state who is learning how to use a computer for the first time. NetMeeting allows me to physically demonstrate to her how to use applications, as if I were there with her. The audio and video allows me to see instantly from the expression an her face if she is understanding what I am demonstrating.”
Families can also stay in touch with their roots by using the Windows Radio Toolbar in Internet Explorer 5 — also included in Windows 98 Second Edition. Internet Explorer 5 not only enables fast and easy access to Web content, but the Windows Radio Toolbar allows families to listen to their hometown radio stations from almost anywhere. Hundreds of radio stations around the world already make their broadcasts available on the Web, and with Internet Explorer 5 families can listen to those programs in real time. By calling the Windows Media Player into action, the Window Radio Toolbar provides easy and seamless access to streaming audio content for the entire family.
For families interested in taking advantage of the latest hardware, they will find that the second edition of Windows 98 offers support for technologies such as the Universal Serial Bus (USB) and IEEE 1394, which make plugging in a new device as easy as plugging in a toaster. For example, a family can now easily plug a digital camcorder into the home PC, view and edit the video, and then post it to a personal Web site or simply store it for later viewing.
First Step to the Networked Home
Everyone is familiar with past family struggles to share home essentials such as a single television or telephone line. To keep the peace, families often acquired multiple television sets and installed additional phone lines to meet the varied and competing needs of family members.
Now that the PC is quickly becoming as important as the telephone in American homes, many families are encountering similar issues. Industry analysts at Dataquest estimate that 15 million U.S. households have at least two computers and that the vast majority of these computers have Internet access. This means that while one family member may need to pay bills online, another may need to access the Web for a homework assignment.
Does this mean that families must install yet another type of Internet connection in their homes? Thankfully not, due to new Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) technology found in Windows 98 Second Edition. ICS is the first step toward home networking, allowing multiple PCs to share a single Internet connection.
“We are excited to deliver this first step toward enabling the truly connected home,”
said Lora Shiner, group product manager in the Consumer Windows Division at Microsoft.
“Home networking technologies, such as Internet Connection Sharing, that enhance the PC experience and empower families are a key focus for Microsoft, and we look forward to delivering further enhancements in future consumer versions of Windows.”
ICS allows one home PC to act as the
computer. This computer provides the Internet connection to all of the other PCs in the home network by receiving the Internet
and sending it out to the Web site needed by one of the computers on the network. The connected sharing PC then receives the data from the Web site and routes the information to the computer that made the initial request.
In order to use the ICS feature, consumers need to have Windows 98 Second Edition running on the connected sharing computer as well as having an Internet connection. The other machines in the network need only a network card and Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows 98 Second Edition. Since the bandwidth is shared between multiple PCs when they are all connected to the Internet, users will enjoy the best experience with broadband connections such as those provided by a cable modem or ADSL connection.
In a recent Newsweek article, Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates said,
“worldwide, well over 100 million PCs will be sold this year. That means the world now buys almost as many PCs as color TVs.”
This is one of many proof points that show that the PC is quickly becoming as important in the home as other standard devices, such as telephones and televisions — but the PC brings additional benefits beyond other standard home devices. Today’s home PCs, equipped with Windows 98 Second Edition, allow families to begin setting up a home network, take full advantage of the World Wide Web, and share and interact with family and friends around the world.