Until not too long ago, I did most of my computing on a 286-based laptop running only DOS. Sounds pretty pathetic for a technology editor, doesn't it? Well, in my opinion, WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS is the best plain-text word-processing package ever invented, and it's blindingly fast. And the DOS version of cc:Mail, the other application on which I'm heavily dependent, is faster than and about as functional as its Windows counterpart.

Now, however, I do all my computing under Windows. Why did I switch? Three main reasons: I find myself needing to jump back and forth more often between E-mail and word processing; there aren't any DOS World Wide Web browsers; and many useful utilities, like fax and tape-backup programs, as well as most CD-ROM programs, run only under Windows.

I do have a point. If you're struggling to decide whether or not to upgrade to Windows 95, with all its attendant costs, here's a piece of advice: Keep your eye on the new applications coming out for Windows 95. As soon as you see an important application that provides major features that non-Windows 95 programs don't, and those features have real benefit to you, bite the bullet and upgrade. Until then, sit tight.

Of course, if you specifically need Windows 95 features like heavy-duty multitasking, or if you just crave state of the art, then by all means jump. I imagine most of us, though, will do just as well, and probably a little better, to wait for a compelling reason to upgrade.

Why have most of the press made such a big deal about Windows 95? For some frightening insight, check out Charles C. Mann's piece in Bulletin Board ( [Article link]). And speaking of important applications, how about one that determines whether or not your customers do business with you? In our cover story ( [Article link]), reporter Joshua Macht describes what to do when large customers demand that you hook your computers into theirs.

Applications certainly made a big difference in Oxnard, Calif. Plagued with increasing crime and gang violence, police there got a handle on the situation by turning to a computerized telemarketing system and to a database that can even pull up pictures of tattoos that identify gang members. Writer Gary Taubes tells the story ( [Article link]).

And consider videoconferencing, an application that most growing businesses have long assumed is a large-company extravagance. Writer Jennifer deJong shows how inexpensive picture phone calls can pay off for even tiny companies ( [Article link]).

To those of you who find yourselves spending more and more time on-line, we pose a question: Could you live there? To find out, we essentially locked Inc. reporter David Whitford in cyberspace for three days. For the strange results, see his article ( [Article link]).

-- David H. Freedman, Editor