Windows 98 ends next week

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Starting July 11th, more than an estimated 70 million Windows users running Windows 98, Windows 98 Special Edition and Windows Millennium Edition will no longer receive security updates from Microsoft.

Microsoft had originally planned to phase out support for these operating systems in January 2004, but chose to delay in order to give users time to upgrade their systems.

Existing support documents and content, however, will continue to be available through the Microsoft Support Product Solution Center Web site . The solution Web site will continue to host previous How-to, Troubleshooting, and Configuration content for anyone who may need self-service.

The following is brief history of the three operating systems no longer receiving support.

Windows 98
Codenamed Memphis, Windows 98 was originally released on June 25, 1998 by Microsoft. The Windows 98 operating system was essentially an updated version of Windows 95, and like that earlier version, it was a hybrid 16-bit/32-bit product. Among its features were better AGP support, functional USB drivers, and support for multiple monitors and WebTV. Also added was support for the FAT32 file system which allowed Windows 98 support disk partitions larger than the two gigabyte maximum accepted by Windows 95. As in later releases of Windows 95, Internet Explorer continued to be integrated into the Windows Explorer interface (a feature which was called Active Desktop). It was also the first version of Windows to support ACPI.

Windows 98 Second Edition
Windows 98 SE was released on May 5, 1999. It included fixes for many minor issues, the replacement of Internet Explorer 4.0 with the significantly faster and lighter Internet Explorer 5, and Internet Connection Sharing, which allowed multiple computers on a LAN to share a single Internet connection through Network Address Translation. Also added was Microsoft NetMeeting 3.0, and support for DVD Playback.

Windows Me
Millennium Edition was released in September 2000 and upgraded Windows 98 with enhanced multimedia and Internet features. It also introduced the first version of System Restore, which allowed users to revert their system state to a previous “known-good” point in the case of system failure. System Restore was a notable feature that made its way into Windows XP. The first version of Windows Movie Maker was introduced as well.

Windows Me was conceived as a quick one-year project that served as a stopgap release between Windows 98 and Windows XP. As a result, Windows Me was not acknowledged as a unique OS along the lines of 95 or 98. Windows Me was widely and sometimes unfairly criticised for serious stability issues, and for lacking real mode DOS support, to the point of being referred to as the “Mistake Edition”. Windows Me was the last operating system to be based on the Windows 9x kernel and MS-DOS.

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