Definition: Win 9x/3.1 Differences
Windows 95/98 was a mixture of DOS, Windows 3.1 and the Mac plus some unique features. It was faster than Windows 3.1, especially for 32-bit applications, and it added the following enhancements:
The Start Menu and Explorer
Program Manager was turned into a Macintosh-like desktop with folders and long file names, and Program Groups were replaced by the Start menu. File Manager changed to Explorer. When you turned the machine off, the desktop remained intact from session to session.
DOS Was Built In
DOS was built into and booted with Windows 95/98. AUTOEXEC.BAT, CONFIG.SYS, WIN.INI, SYSTEM.INI and other INI files were maintained for compatibility.
All hardware and environment settings resided in the Registry, and information about files and applications were more consistent.
Multitasking was made preemptive so two or more programs could execute simultaneously. All active programs were displayed on a Taskbar.
Networking was built in for popular LANs and dial-up communications as well as direct cable connection to portables.
Plug and Play
Installing new hardware was easier. Windows 95/98 supported Plug and Play, which, although not foolproof, was substantially better than its DOS/Windows 3.1 predecessor.
Troubleshooting was somewhat easier because of a built-in Safe Mode for rebooting in a "clean" state with only the necessary drivers.