Windows 98, the OS that just won't die

By Joel Shore, ITworld |  Opinion

Did you see it? Probably not. I didn't even see a press release.

Here's the salient information:

"Windows 98 and Windows 98 Second Edition support was scheduled to end
on January 16, 2004. However, continual evaluation of the Support
Lifecycle policy revealed that customers in the smaller and the emerging
markets needed additional time to upgrade their product. Therefore,
Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, and Windows Me will continue to
be supported after January 16, 2004."

Here are the key dates you need to know about:

-- Paid incident support for Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, and
Windows Millennium Edition (Me) is available through June 30, 2006.

-- Customers can request security fixes for Windows 98, Windows 98
Second Edition, Windows Me, and the most current version of their
components until June 30, 2006 through normal assisted-support channels.

-- Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, and Windows Me downloads for
existing security issues will continue to be available through regular
assisted-support channels at no charge until June 30, 2006.

-- No-charge incident support and extended hotfix support for Windows 98
and Windows 98 Second Edition ended on June 30, 2003.

-- No-charge incident support and extended hotfix support for Windows Me
ended on December 31, 2003.

-- Online self-help support will be available until at least June 30,
2007.

At this rate, Windows 98 may be the world's oldest supported operating
system. Even I have to admit that companies can't support products
forever. It dilutes their resources and keeps them from their appointed
mission of selling upgrades. But you've got to wonder what factors
played into this decision.

The announcement says that Win 98 support is being extended because
customers in "smaller and the emerging markets" needed more time to
upgrade. (There's that "u" word again. And I assume that means upgrade
to Windows XP.)

Well, just what is an "emerging market?" Is it geographic, perhaps
independent nations once part of the USSR? Or is it a burgeoning
vertical market, one that Microsoft hasn't quite tapped into yet? And
what is a "smaller" market? Is that a place with a modest population, or
a highly specialized industry that is practiced by only a few? Beats the
heck out of me.

It would have been pretty easy to discontinue support in North America
and the European Union while extending it in eastern Europe, Africa, and
Asia. But that didn't happen.

Too bad. Unless you've tapped into an enormous revenue stream of
supporting these bygone operating platforms, it's good for everybody to
move to Windows XP (or Linux, or maybe even Mac OS X). I sure don't want
to spend my days dredging my memory, trying to recall how things were
done in Windows 98 (and Windows 95).

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