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Dinosaur Sighting: Microsoft Plus! 98 - Companion for Windows 98

Go back in time to 1998 and relive Microsoft Plus! 98
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Topic: Windows
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Microsoft Plus! 98 featured new utilities, games, and entertaining desktop themes for the Windows 98 operating system. The retail package of the Microsoft Plus! 98 - Companion for Windows 98 was released on the same day as the operating system – June 25, 1998—and carried a retail price of $44.95. In the official press release, Microsoft described the Microsoft Plus! 98 Companion for Windows 98 as follows

Plus! 98, the consumer companion for Windows 98, extends the advanced functionality in Windows 98 by adding new utilities, themes and games to let customers further manage, customize and enjoy their PC.

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The CD cover for Microsoft Plus 98! Companion for Windows 98 was also the 15 page manual.

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The Microsoft Plus! 98 CD had a light blue background that matched the operating system CD.

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Once you put the CD in the drive, the splash screen appeared and was accompanied by the “Microsoft Sound,” which was the default Windows 98 Startup sound.

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If you selected the Custom Setup, you saw the Options list and could select the items that you wanted to install.

Microsoft Plus! 98 came with a 6 month trial of McAffee VirusScan, File Cleaner, Start Menu Cleaner, Compressed Folders, Deluxe CD Player, Picture It! Express, Microsoft Golf 1998 Lite, Spider Solitaire, Lose Your Marbles, and a 18 new desktop themes.

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McAffee VirusScan was integrated right into the Windows 98 Maintenance Wizard to make scanning for viruses easy and trouble-free. It also included VShield, which sat in the background and monitored memory and your hard disk for virus-like activity. After your 6 month trial was finished, you had to purchase a license to continue using it.

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To help you keep your hard disk clean, the File Cleaner utility from CyberMedia was integrated into the Windows 98 Disk Cleaner where it would find and recommend noncritical files for removal.

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A new feature called the Start Menu Cleaner was added to the Windows 98 Maintenance Wizard and it was designed to automatically keep your Start Menu organized by removing broken items and empty folders.

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The Compressed Folder feature was designed to help you save disk space by allowing you to compact files at up to a 90 percent compression ratio. It was integrated into Windows Explorer in order to make archiving files a simple drag and drop operation.

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The Deluxe CD Player was an enhanced version of the CD player that came with Windows 98. Among the awesome new features was Deluxe CD Player’s ability to download tracklists and other information about your CDs while they were playing.

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Picture It! Express was a basic version of full Microsoft Picture It! personal imaging software. In the Express version you could perform basic editing procedures, such as soften edges, adjust contrast, and remove red eye from photographs. You could then publish them online to a service called PhotoNet.

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Microsoft Golf 1998 Lite was a limited version of Microsoft Golf 1998, an awesome new golf game that featured extremely realistic graphics and an awesome new Recommended Power Index feature, which allows you to more precisely control your swing.

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Spider Solitaire, which is now a standard Windows game, made its debut with Microsoft Plus! 98.

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Lose Your Marbles from SegaSoft was an addictive game of marbles, in which you had to line up marbles of the same color to remove them before the constant influx of new marbles piled up within the borders drawn in the dirt and ended the game.

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One of most popular features in Microsoft Plus! 98 were the Desktop Themes, which provided a number of topical themes. Each one had a different color scheme, sounds, screen saver, wallpaper image, icons, fonts, animated cursors, and more. The Desktop Themes app, found in the Control Panel, made it easy to select, preview and customize the various themes.

You’ll also notice Rotate theme monthly button at the bottom of the Desktop Themes window. This feature made it easy to randomly sample each one of the 18 desktop themes, listed below, that came with this package.

 

 

Architecture

Cathy

Cityscape

Corbis Photography

Doonesbury

Falling Leaves

Fashion

FoxTrot

Garfield

Geometry

Horror Channel

Jazz

Peanuts

PhotodDisc

Rock'n'Roll

Science Fiction

Windows 98

World Traveler

 

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When you selected a theme, such as Architecture, you could see the theme’s color scheme, font, wallpaper, and desktop icons in the preview area. You could click the Screen Saver button to see a full screen preview and you could click the Pointer, Sounds etc button to preview the sounds and animated pointers. When you clicked OK, the theme would be applied to the desktop.

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The Architecture theme featured an Escher-like wallpaper image and drafting tools icons.

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The screen saver in Architecture was an awesome display of 3D floating objects. This screen saver, as well as several others in Plus! 98, was a Direct3D API-accelerated screen saver designed by Computer Artworks and using William Latham's pioneering Organic Art techniques. These Organic Art screen savers were incredible!

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Plus! 98 came with a group of desktop themes based on popular comic strips. The Cathy theme is the first one of these on the list.

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The wallpaper displayed Cathy, the Everywoman who humorously deals with life’s ups and downs.

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The screen saver consisted of heart shapes floating across the screen.

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The Cityscape theme had neat icons and great Start and Exit sounds.

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The wallpaper displayed a surreal looking skyline right out of a science fiction movie. Check out the My Computer icon—it is a gargoyle.

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The screen saver consisted of several shapes, such as 3D blocks, that moved across the desktop and picked up the wallpaper as they did so.

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The Corbis Photography theme was based on the huge digital image collection owned by Bill Gates’ Corbis Corporation.

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The wallpaper for the Corbis theme featured a collage of images in the center of the screen. The images in the collage changed on a regular basis.

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The screen saver displayed a slide show of selected images. This world famous photograph of Florence Owens Thompson was taken during the Great Depression.

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The Doonesbury theme pulled together a set of items representing Garry Trudeau’s long running comic strip.

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The wallpaper featured images of Mr. Butts walking across the screen.

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The screen saver showed a series of floating images from various strips, like this one showing Mike Doonesbury video conferencing with Kim Rosenthal, his girlfriend/wife. (Didn’t Microsoft just buy Skype?)

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The Falling Leaves theme was a very pleasant theme to commemorate the Fall season.

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The wallpaper showed a wonderful collection of Fall leaves.

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This screen saver, also an Organic Art screen saver, displayed leaves floating all around the screen in a beautifully orchestrated dance.

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Fashion provided an interesting theme and was a favorite of my wife.

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The wallpaper showed a mannequin in a store window. Check out the lipstick and purse icons.

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The Fashion screen saver showed black and white images of fashion models in various poses.

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Another comic strip theme was FoxTrot.

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The wallpaper featured the Fox family. The first time a setup this theme, I was momentarily freaked out when I saw that the characters’ eyes blinked at random intervals.

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The screen saver showed Quincy, Jason’s pet iguana, strapped to a rocket flying and around the screen. Apparently, a regular gag in the comic.

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Like the comic strip, the Garfield theme was very popular.

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While Garfield and friends pose on this wallpaper, the animated ants walked away with their picnic lunch.

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In this screen saver Garfield and Odie bounced across the screen on Pogo sticks accompanied by a boing sounds.

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Geometry was never one of my best subjects in school, but in Plus! 98, it was one of my favorite themes.

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The desktop wallpaper displayed an interesting geometric pattern.

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The Organic Art screen saver by took the wallpaper pattern and very artistically animated it.

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The Horror Channel theme was based on the collection of horror films owned by Universal Studios.

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The wallpaper showed a creepy monster traipsing around a graveyard.

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The screen saver consisted of grainy black and white stills from some of the classic horror films.

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The Jazz theme had great sounds featuring various instruments playing jazz riffs. I really liked the jazzy Windows Exit sound!

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This wallpaper showed chalk board-like drawing of a jazz trio. The guy in the center was partially animated--he tapped his foot.

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Another Organic Art screen saver, this one showed a dancing display of musical notes.

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Of course, what collection of comics would be complete without Peanuts.

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The wallpaper showed several staples from the comic. Lucy always pulls away the football.

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The screen saver showed a series of classic images from the strip, like Joe Cool and Woodstock.

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The PhotoDisc theme featured amazing images from PhotoDisc a Seattle based publisher of digital stock photography free of royalties.

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The wallpaper displayed an image of a rusty wire frame globe.

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The screen saver was a slide show of neat images such as this one of the moon.

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The Rock-n-Roll theme was one of my favorites as it had a great set of electric guitar riffs in its sound scheme.

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The wallpaper featured a Fender Stratocaster-styled electric guitar.

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This Organic Art screen saver showed guitars flying all over the screen in intricate patterns.

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The Science Fiction theme had outlandish features as well as an interesting sound scheme.

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The wallpaper showed a barren looking planet surface with strange creatures suspended in the air.

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The Organic Art screen saver showed the same barren looking planet surface but the strange creatures floated across the screen and at times melded into each other or split apart into multiples.

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The Windows 98 theme was an enhanced version of the default Windows 98 theme.

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The wallpaper featured the Windows flag.

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The screen saver showed the wallpaper at the bottom of a pool of water and ripples or drops on the surface temporarily obscured the image.

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The World Traveler theme featured awesome scenic images from around the world.

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The wallpaper showed a photo of a fisherman floating in a serene lake.

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The screen saver was a slide show of amazing photographs.

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Consumer Companion for Windows 98 Offers Powerful New Utilities Desktop Themes and Exciting Games – Official Microsoft Press Release

MS Plus! For Windows 98 – CNET Archives

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