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How do I get the "B" release?

What's the easiest and cheapest way I can get version "B" of Windows 95? And what is different in version B?

The "B" release of Windows 95 is known officially as "OEM Service Release 2" (OSR2). In theory, this release is only distributed on new systems -- thus, the "OEM", which stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. The main reason for this is that OSR2 incorporates a new file structure called FAT32. Briefly, FAT32 has two big advantages over the old FAT16 file structure: It allows bigger hard drive partitions -- 2 terabytes (TB) vs. 2 gigabytes (GB) for FAT16 -- and it allocates file storage much more efficiently. However, if you want to upgrade to FAT32, you must start with a clean slate. You can't simply upgrade your existing system, you must repartition and reformat your hard drive and reload everything from scratch. Undoubtedly, Microsoft did not want to get involved with all the attendant hassles -- the support issues would be a nightmare -- so they made "B" an OEM release.
     The only other way that I know of to get OSR2 is to obtain a Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscription. MSDN Professional or higher members receive, among other things, all the operating systems, including Windows 95 OSR2.
     So, the only present alternatives are: Buy a new system or get an MSDN Professional membership.

All that being said, almost everything included in OSR2, except FAT32, is available as an upgrade component from Microsoft's Windows 95 web site. Also, it's worth noting that the "official" word is that FAT32, along with a bunch of other goodies, will be included in Windows 98. And Windows 98 will be a general upgrade.

Reference: The Microsoft Knowledge Base has two useful articles: Q154997 discusses the FAT32 file system; Q155003 provides an overview of OSR2. There is also a market bulletin on Microsoft's web site that describes OEM Service Release 2 in some detail, including the differences between OSR2 and the retail release. And, of course, you should keep an eye on the Windows 95 Home Page for future developments.


Maintained by William K. Walker
Copyright 1997 by William K. Walker
Last update: 13 Jan 98