Technical support memos


August 21, 1998 (updated December 1 and 8, 1998; August 9, 1999; September 29, 2000)
WIN98 and Advanced Accounting 5.1/TAS 5.1
Advanced Accounting 5.1 and TAS 5.1
Casey M. Barnett and Anthony J. Frates (Copyright 1998-2000 Addsum Business Software, Inc.)


SUMMARY: Advanced Accounting 5.1 and TAS 5.1 will run successfully under WIN98. Preliminary in-house results and reports from "bleeding edge" users suggest however that caution should be exercised in deploying WIN98 on network clients. The initial release of WIN98 appears to be less stable than WIN95. WIN98 also is less capable than WIN95 in terms of its ability to run DOS programs although we have no information to indicate that Advanced Accounting 5.1 or TAS 5.1 runs less effectively under WIN98 than under WIN95, except for the question of WIN98's stability in general.

COMMENTS: The most stable environment under which to run Advanced Accounting 5.1 or TAS 5.1 has been under WIN95. Networks running with WIN95 on the clients (regardless of whether the server is a Novell server, WIN NT server, WIN95 dedicated or peer server, Lantastic dedicated or peer server) have proven to be reliable and more robust than anything else that has been previously available. Can the same results be expected running with WIN98 clients? Should a WIN98 PC be used as a server in a peer to peer environment?

In-house testing: Internally we connected a brand new generic laptop Pentium 233 mhz (32MB RAM) with WIN98 pre-installed to our WIN95 peer network. Prior to establishing the network settings and installing the accounting/TAS software, we noticed that the WIN98 PC would lock-up during different basic operations such as standalone software installation, running screen savers, etc. Network set-up under WIN98 is identical to WIN98. In literally minutes, all Windows based PC's were able to browse each other and share resources.

Advanced Accounting 5.1 (as well as TAS 5.1) was installed on the laptop and sales orders (Advanced Accounting) were entered on a multi-user basis with three users entering and processing orders simultaneously (in both the DOS and Windows modes). No performance, file locking or any other problems of any kind were encountered. Further the WIN98 laptop was able to log-in to Advanced Accounting 5.1 installed on the WIN95 PC's and performance was exactly as would be expected with a WIN95 client. TAS 5.1 further seemed to run without difficulty.

DOS mode PIF (properties) for WIN98 shortcuts are essentially identical to WIN95. No different settings were used in our tests than with a WIN95 PC. (The most basic settings normally involve ensuring that "close on exit" is checked on the Program tab and in the Advanced settings, we normally recommend that the first option entitled "Prevent MS-DOS based programs from detecting Windows" is selected. While some TAS 5.1 users have experimented with certain Memory tab settings, we have no information to suggest that any of those settings require any special adjustment. A FILES=150 needs to exist in the CONFIG.SYS in WIN98 just as in WIN95. For the Windows mode, no special settings are required except for the required statements in WIN.INI for Btrieve. Running the CONFIGWS.EXE utility will automatically create the needed entry.)

Customer experiences: Results as of this time are mixed and therefore inconclusive. One user decided to drop a Novell server environment in favor of a pure WIN98 network (dedicating one of the PC's). Advanced Accounting 5.1 in DOS mode has proven to be solid and reliable for this user. Most of the WIN98 clients were updated from WIN95.

Another user however was running solidly on Advanced Accounting 5.1 on a Novell 4.x server and two WIN95 PC's and upgraded the WIN95 clients to WIN98. Thereafter the environment became very unstable resulting in frequent data file corruption in the G/L transaction file (BKGLTRAN). Network disconnections were occurring. That system seems to have become stable in moving the accounting system off of the server to one of the WIN98 PC's suggesting some sort of Novell or Novell/WIN98 problem or some other network problem.

Another user running an older version of Advanced Accounting (version 3.0 but with the same version of BTRIEVE.EXE as in 5.1) in a pure WIN98 network experienced frequent data file corruption of the G/L transaction (BKGLTRAN) and inventory master (BKICMSTR) files. Different network consultants who reviewed the network believed that the network itself was solid. PC's often lock-up after doing "F2" product look-ups after some relatively short period of reliable operation.

RECOMMENDATION: A multi-user database system (e.g. accounting software) requires a stable environment. An unstable environment (regardless of the cause) will lead to data file corruption. WIN98 does not appear to be as stable as WIN95. It is further well known that WIN98 will not run some DOS programs that run under WIN95 without difficulty.

We do not know of any compelling reason to update a WIN95 PC to WIN98 PC at this point. Functionality is essentially the same and the WIN95 PC will likely operate more reliably. This hopefully will change with future releases of WIN98.

If purchasing a new PC that is pre-loaded with WIN98, it may be reasonable to integrate that PC into the network environment "as is" (in the case of a Novell environment, well-qualified assistance should be obtained to ensure that the appropriate Novell client software is installed); it would also however be reasonable to instead install the latest release WIN95 to help ensure stability.

(12/01/98 update) Based on further user experiences, WIN 98 should absolutely NOT be used as the "server" in a peer to peer network, especially when running Advanced Accounting or TAS (any version) in the DOS mode. Some users report success using WIN98 as "clients." When WIN98 is used as the server, file corruption and frequent record lock-ups soon becomes evident. Our recommendation stands to not deploy WIN98 at all except perhaps as new PC's are introduced to the network and as long as those PC's are "clients" only.

(12/08/98 update) In further testing at our office using WIN98 as a server on a new machine in a peer to peer environment, four users at our office all attempted to "crash" the system by entering in sales orders, inventory items and entering/receiving purchase orders at the same time. We were unable initially to do so. We were able to ultimately cause two machines to lock-up in the sales order program with a lock in the BKARINV file. These two PC's had to be re-booted. We were also able to cause a Btrieve 86 error message on one PC. We never had any out of the ordinary problems when in the Windows mode. We re-booted the WIN98 PC and after further testing in both the DOS and Windows modes (running all in one or in a mixed mode), we were never able to induce a problem.

One user has attempted to use Lantastic 8.0 on a WIN98 PC and running Advanced Accounting 5.1 in the DOS mode from WIN98 and other clients. To date they have not had any problems.

So for users who want to use a WIN98 PC as a server on a peer network, there appear to be two other options to consider: install Lantastic 8.0 or run in the Windows mode only.

(08/09/99 update) Almost one year after this memo was originally published, there is relatively little new information. One customer had a WIN98/Novell client problem involving data corruption that was seemingly resolved via a recent Client32 patch made available by Novell. While the number of support calls have not been huge, users with WIN98 as a general rule continue to have more problems than users of WIN95. And we are aware of other applications that use Btrieve 5.10a running under WIN98 that have problems. One colleague reports that he believes that the HP6 driver conflicts somehow with Btrieve files. That same person also reports that a use of a memory setting of 768 in the initial environment properties seems to help decrease the chances of corruption on WIN98 PC's.

Our own internal experiences continue to suggest that WIN95 is more reliable than WIN98. Several of our employees have experienced many problems with WIN98 on their home computers. Further, several employees brought in WIN98 PC's from home and attached those to our network and for the first time we experienced some data file corruption on our in-house WIN95 server and it seems to be related to the WIN98 PC's. Our general recommendation is to continue to not deploy WIN98 as a server and it may also be a questionable choice as a client PC on a Windows peer network.

(09/29/00 update) We no longer have reservations about the use of WIN 98 (2nd edition) as either a workstation or server. In-house we have been using a WIN 98 2d ed. PC as a host on a peer network for well over six months without any problems whatsoever. As of this date however we do not recommend the use of WIN 98 ME.

As additional information becomes available, this technical support memo will be updated.

Copyright ã 1998-99 ADDSUM BUSINESS SOFTWARE, INC. Salt Lake City, Utah
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