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Operating Systems: Windows95 -- Fight or Switch?

Several top execs give their thoughts on Windows95 and explain their thinking.

Rather than a standard upgrade, Windows95 is actually a new operating system. The on-screen desktop looks more like a Mac than a Windows layout, and because Windows95's souped-up mechanics are not completely compatible with most standard software, manufacturers are scrambling to develop updated software releases. Windows95 is faster, offers Internet access just by clicking on an icon, and dispenses with the clumsy file-management program of its predecessor, Windows 3.1. But the release date for Windows95 has been pushed back several times, most recently to late August, and beta testers, who have been using the software since August 1993, report that there are still troublesome bugs.

No wonder many CEOs are wary. "If you catch every wave that comes along, you lose your focus on the business. Suddenly, nobody can find files, and you're busy making it all work," says James Bush, chief financial officer of $20-million Priester Supply, in Arlington, Tex., a distributor of electrical equipment. "We still have a business to run whether Windows95 comes out or not." Other small-business owners tend to agree with Bush.

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Bill Young
Young & Perry Insurance, Bridgewater, N.J. * $2-million insurance brokerage
"I saw a product demo and thought it was pretty slick. But our hands are tied somewhat by the vendor of our primary software system. When the vendor certifies our software for Windows95, we'll go for it. I've been a pioneer enough times to know that if my primary-software vendor isn't comfortable with it, I'd better stay away."

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Steve Koenemann
Network Performance, Colchester, Vt. * $75-million computer-network support and service company
"It's going to be difficult for people because they changed the interface, but I like it better. It will require a more powerful hardware platform -- users without a Pentium or high-end 486 will probably find it slower than Windows 3.1. We're upgrading right away because of our business. We've had three machines running the preview product for more than four months. After all, we have to be up to speed well before our customers are."

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India Hatch
Taos Valley Resort Association, Taos, N. Mex. * $1-million reservations bureau
"The computer consulting firm we use is recommending that we upgrade to Windows95, but I have to look at the cost and what we're going to gain in terms of features and efficiency. We just bought Windows 3.1 a year ago."

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Harold Gendreau
Polysius, Atlanta * $30-million division of Krupp USA that builds cement-production plants
"I hate DOS. It's very administrative-intensive -- you have to train and help people a lot. Windows95 will make my job as network administrator much easier. People just have to push buttons instead of typing in DOS commands."

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