The nightmare began on my birthday, 27 August, when my wife gave me a Windows 95 CD-rom. I got up early and started installing it on my high-performance machine - a Pentium 90 with 16Mb of Ram. Everything was going well until the set-up bar reached 98 per cent. Then it stopped. Run set-up again, it said. But when I rebooted my computer, the CD-rom drivehad disappeared. All I had left was a Windows 95 boot disk - a floppy disk I had created as part of the installation process - and the little old Dos prompt. I could have uninstalled the whole program from the floppy but, alas, the instruction manual made no mention of this.
Instead, I copied over the precious programs and files I had backed up on another drive. All I succeeded in doing was deleting a load of personal data that I had not saved elsewhere. Only one option remained: to take my machine round to a friend, "Handy" Andy, who has been testing Windows 95 for ages.
For the next few days, Andy uninstalled it and reinstalled it, but it kept on crashing. So he reformated the entire hard disk and began loading first Dos, then Windows 3.11, then 95 and then all the drivers for the different hardware, such as the graphics card and CD-rom. At last, the villain was unmasked: the drivers for my cheap Soundblaster "compatible" sound card, which also worked the CD-rom, were anathema to 95. The only solution was to buy not just a new sound card, but a CD-rom player, too. Goodbye pounds 317.
Eight days after the first installation attempt, we set about the process again. Success at last - 95 was up and running. And while we have the back off, suggested Andy, why don't we slip in a Diamond Stealth graphics accelerator card as well? But despite the promise of "plug and play" for new hardware on Windows 95, the card refused to work properly.
Day 12 and Andy had had enough. I took a day off work so I could telephone Microsoft's technical support team while I was in front of my computer (why does Microsoft shut down for the weekend when most people are at home?). I was on the phone from lunchtime until 5.15pm, trying to install the correct drivers for the graphics card from the Windows 95 disk. Then the engineer packed up for the day.
The only hope was to download information, and maybe even some new software, from the Internet or CompuServe. I tried to get on to the Internet and failed. Finally, good old CompuServe came to the rescue and I found the information needed to make the graphics card work. Except I still do not have more than the basic colours and my CompuServe connection is horribly injured: I cannot stay online for more than 30 seconds without crashing.
According to Windows 95, my PC is now fully and correctly installed. But I have lousy colour on my screen and my communications with the outside world are all but jammed. I am left with the prospect of battling on in the hope that Windows 95 will eventually stabilise on my machine.
I have now been struggling with Windows 95 for three weeks, from 9pm until I go to bed, with a couple of nights off to save my sanity and my marriage. Unfortunately, the nightmare does not end there. My wife has lost the receipt.
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