Win95's Next Stop: Memphis
-- by Jim Forbes and James E. Powell
If you're one of those people who just can't wait any longer for the next version of Windows 95, take heart: Microsoft is hard at work polishing the first beta of Memphis, as the next iteration of its OS is code named. The primary goals of the new OS are to simplify the connection process to so-called convergence technologies (which bring together PCs, TVs and telephones), take advantage of new processor and graphics technologies, and generally boost Win95's performance.
A widespread testing of Memphis is slated for early in the second quarter, and the release could appear in late summer or early fall, according to Microsoft.
Memphis should run on virtually all machines equipped with a 486 processor, VGA displays and at least 8MB of system memory-about the same minimum requirements as Windows 95. Some of this version's features, however, are optimized for more recent hardware, most notably Intel's MMX-enabled processors, Universal Serial Bus, IEEE 1394 (the serial interface that can move information at speeds of up to 100Mbps) and advanced graphics controllers. However, to accommodate the installed base, the only parts of Memphis that are being rewritten specifically for MMX are DirectX and some drivers.
Microsoft's programmers are also working with third-party hardware vendors to develop standards that support new interface devices, such as the latest joysticks.
Delivering on promises
Much of Memphis appears to make good on promises made by Microsoft in mid-1996 to deliver PCs that are easier to use. Memphis will support an "instant on" feature, and allow users to work on two monitors simultaneously-perhaps one for a TV tuner and one for productivity apps.