[CQ-Contest] What will happen to our contest devices?

Jim Stevens k4ma at mindspring.com
Wed Feb 4 21:37:16 EST 1998

At 11:52 PM 2/3/98 +0000, you wrote:
>In the latest issue of PC Magazine is a column describing a Microsoft 
>"industry standard" called PC98, which has started to be implemented 
>already. Bottom line, it will put an end to the ISA bus. All 
>peripherals will run on the 66-100 Mhz PCI or AGP bus.
>On the plus side, this will put an end to IRQ problems, and also be 
>a significantly faster bus. On the negative side, it's gonna leave a 
>lot of orphan ISA devices with no place to plug them in new 
>Anyone in the computer biz have any more info on all this?
>73 Barry

I work for the IBM PC Company, and I'm familiar with (but no
expert on) the Microsoft PC Design Guidelines that are issued
on a yearly basis.

To quickly answer the question, PC98 does not require PCs to
have no ISA slots.  Rather it requires that all system devices
like audio, mouse, keyboard, modem (if present), video, disks, etc.
be on one of the newer more advanced buses like PCI, USB, or AGP.
It also says a PC OEM cannot ship a PC from the factory 
which contains a device that occupies an ISA slot.  Thus the
system will come with ISA slots, but no devices using them.
Obviously, the customer can add ISA devices.  I believe in the
short run this will actually be an advantage to hams because
it will free up resources on the ISA bus like IRQs.

History & Future:
The Microsoft PC Design Guidelines came out of work that
Microsoft, Intel, and Compaq started several years ago
to try and better enforce standards on all PC OEMs thus
making it easier for Microsoft and Intel to design products
that would work with all PCs.  However they are just guidelines.
PC OEMs do not have to follow them, but all major PC OEMs do.

The timeline these guidelines follow is:
Aug/Sept - First external draft for the following year
Sept-Feb - Comments and revisions
March at WINHEC - final version
July 1 - Effective date

WINHEC = Microsoft Windows Hardware Engineering Conference

So PC98 will be effective for all new PC systems that are submitted
to Microsoft for operating system logo testing on or after
July 1, 1998.  What this means is if a PC OEM wants their
system to be certified (or logoed) for Win 95/98 and/or
Win NT 4.0, they must submit it to Microsoft, and Microsoft
tests it for compliance to the current PC Design Guidelines.
If you pass, you get the logo.  This means you will start seeing
systems that are PC98 compliant in the Aug-Sept timeframe.

Concerning the future, it is no secret that Microsoft wants
to kill ISA.  It is a non-deterministic bus which makes it
difficult for their operating systems to achieve the goal
of true Plug-N-Play.  The prediction is that the initial
draft of PC99 (Aug/Sep 98) will say no ISA slots.  Whether
it will stick to the final version is open to debate.  There are
still lots of businesses out there using legacy ISA devices.
But at some point in the next few years, ISA will go.

73, Jim Stevens, K4MA & 8P9JA

email -- k4ma at mindspring.com
WWW   -- http://www.mindspring.com/~k4ma

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