Check Out Those Updates and Upgrades for Your Computer

Check Out Those Updates and Upgrades for Your Computer

By John Makulowich
Senior Writer

A computer friend expressed surprise recently that so many people seem to use outdated versions of operating systems and software, including browsers, when updates and upgrades are readily available for the cost of an Internet connection. It is also surprising, he noted, because the updates and upgrades often enhance computing agility and actually increase productivity.

Presuming this true and largely the result of user ignorance, I thought readers might appreciate some guidance, especially since the operating system is becoming more deeply entwined with software applications - notwithstanding Justice Department issues and the need to keep up to date is becoming more pressing with the continuing changes in technology and the release of betas. Let me offer two examples.

First, the next version of Windows, that is, Windows 98, will include VB Scripting tools, which is loosely speaking, a programming language for use with HTML tags. As noted in the new HTML 4.0 specifications, section 18.1, "Introduction to scripts," issued by the World Wide Web Consortium, "A client-side script is a program that may accompany an HTML document or be embedded directly in it. The program executes on the client's machine when the document loads, or at some other time such as when a link is activated. HTML's support for scripts is independent of the scripting language."

For those readers who want to exercise more control over their home pages as well as make them more interactive, the VB (for Visual Basic) scripting tools are readily available on the Microsoft VBScript Web page at http://www.

Not only will you find something called the ActiveX Control Pad, which allows you to create HTML documents, but you will also discover a VBScript Tutorial, a VBScript Language Reference, an ActiveX Control Lister for HTML, sample VBScripts and more.

A second example of the value of updates is directed to those using Corel's WordPerfect 8. On the Corel Web page (http://www., you will find programs that allow you to seamlessly import Word 97 files, which are created with the newest version of the Microsoft word processing software.

With that, I would suggest you consider updating to Internet Explorer 4.0, now in its final version. On the tool bar, under Help, you will find the second line item, named Product Updates. Click on this while online and, after requesting your permission, you can launch a program that checks your system for the latest clients available and installs them if you wish.

You should also check whether you have the latest version of Windows 95, if you are using that operating system. There have been a number of upgrades. You can find the current version of your operating system by clicking the right button on your mouse while it is over the icon, My Computer, which usually sits in the top left corner of your desktop. If unsure about whether you need to upgrade, there is a program, PatchChk.exe, available on the Microsoft site, which lets you know whether to install the SR-1 Patch or the Patch update. For readers who made it this far, write me at using the subject, Patch Check, and I will send the URL.

John Makulowich is a writer for Washington Technology. You can reach him at; his home page is

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