My 2176-C66, as many Aptivas do, came not with an installable Win95 CD but rather with a down-rev, non-installable "Windows Companion CD". Due to this fact (and the fact that a Cxx model with the ATI graphics chipset doesn't even have a Win95 Setup file) the only way to fully reinstall Windows 95 to it's original configuration has been to run a Product Recovery. As we are all well aware, this procedure has a bit of a *downside*
--- the loss of all data on Drive C.
Although in many cases there are workarounds to this issue (using the IBM RESTORE.EXE utility to reload the \Windows directory is one that I've used myself on more than one occasion) not being able to just pop in a Windows CD to painlessly refresh the operating system as most of the computer-owning free world can do has been a thorn in my side.
I have considered many esoteric procedures as far as being able to do a standard reinstall of Win95 on a 2176-Cxx Aptiva (hacking an install with missing setup files obtained from friends and so forth) and have even to gone so far as to consider purchasing a Windows 95 CD (just consider of course, those who know me know I'm far to cheap to spend a fast hundred on something I already own) so to have this ability, one many consider so basic yet denied as a matter of course to many Aptiva owners.
Whatever one's opinion of the various features of Windows 98 it has a serious personal attraction as far as being able to to a truly "clean" reload of the system, avoiding the Registry bloat and other issues that result from deleting the 80% or so of the redundant IBM preload for which IBM deemed the ability to uninstall as unnecessary. To be able to format the system, install ONLY Windows 98 and then pick and choose from the IBM preload the few applications of interest, and on top of that be able to reinstall Windows in the event of any problem? No MWAVE drivers to uninstall, no Rapid Resume to disable and remove? Pinch me, I must be dreaming. :-)
A big irony here is that the bogus, down-rev, non-installable and "useless" Microsoft Windows Companion CD that I have been so tempted to frisbee out the Window now has a chance to redeem itself. Although it has always been clear that a Windows 98 "Upgrade" CD can be used as to perform a "Full Install" provided one has a Windows (3.1 or 95) CD or disk to insert to prove rightful ownership of a Microsoft Windows operating system, it has long been a question of mine as to whether our otherwize-useless "Companion" CDs would fit the bill...
Finally I have gotten a definative first-hand answer from multiple reliable sources --- yes, it will. All a user must do when installing Windows 98 to a freshly formatted drive from the basic "Upgrade" CD is insert the Companion CD when prompted (and by some reports direct the install to the Win95 folder containing the *.CAB files) to get the job done.
Of course this is not an act to be rushed into --- one has to backup all personal files, be prepared to reinstall all applications --- it is after all the practical equivilent to a Product Recovery (you all know what a big fan I am of those). Somehow though I don't see this one as being as painful as those that went before, knowing that this would quite likely be the FINAL Recovery of my Aptiva's lifetime. Having the ability to recover one's operating system rather than Drive C makes for a whole different ball game, one that I wouldn't mind trying my luck in.
The above is not for everyone...but damn it sure sounds like it's for me.