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An Old Idea Made New

When Windows 98 finally reaches its destination it will mark a significant occasion: the completion of the original “Chicago” project.
Remember Chicago? In the early 1990s, it was Microsoft’s grand vision for an operating system, a new version of Windows. At the time, Windows 3.1 was flying high and quickly becoming the platform of choice for business and home users alike. The user interface consisted of Program Manager and File Manager. You customized and optimized Windows 3.1 by tweaking the CONFIG.SYS, AUTOEXEC.BAT, SYSTEM.INI, AND WIN.INI Files. The new Operating System anticipated by Microsoft sported nested folders and what was called a “tray”(is now called the taskbar) where running programs would reside. Shortcut icons would exist right on the Desktop-not in the ProgMan Window. Instead of system files, you would tweak a “Registry,” a single item that contained all the system and user information, and was created at every boot-up.
All that and much more, of course, shipped in Windows 95. However it wasn’t the complete vision: Two of the coolest aspects of the original Chicago project fell off the priority list before the product went to market.
Thefirst of these was that the “shell” would be a true “OLE container.” That meant you could put stuff into the shell just like you can insert an Excel spreadsheet into a Word document. It would also give users a system-wide scripting system. Presently, the shell is called the Desktop and OLE has become ActiveX. Windows 98 lets you embed linked objects into the Desktop using ActiveX technology. It also lets you write scripts that automate tasks across applications and interact with the Operating system.
The second cool idea was that the Desktop would have a single icon representing all networked resources including the Internet. Windows 95 took us to Network neighborhood, but Windows 98 brings us to the Internet. Microsoft spins these two concepts as ‘Web Integration.” Back when…

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