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Microsoft Security

Microsoft Extends Win98/SE Support 415

Posted by Hemos
from the expanding-it-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes "ZDNet reports that Microsoft is extending technical support for Windows 98 till 30 June 2006, despite being days away from switching support to a CD. It seems Windows 98 will also have all necessary security updates till the new expiry date." The article states that Microsoft will have "...During that time paid over-the-phone support will be available, and "critical" security issues will be reviewed and "appropriate steps" taken."
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Microsoft Extends Win98/SE Support

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  • by dan dan the dna man (461768) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:31AM (#7951905) Homepage Journal
    And yes thanks people I already have Fedora on some machines and Red Hat Enterprise on the rest, I just wish support for 7.3 and 9.0 had been extended by Red Hat and not left to third parties..
    • by Anonymous Coward
      RedHat Updates are still available, and will be available in the future. The up2date service for free is what being discontinued. To me, it seems better than a CD based support, anyway.
  • Heh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Xpilot (117961) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:31AM (#7951906) Homepage
    Having to support their own old buggy products are their biggest liability. Popularity does have its downside.

    • Re:Heh (Score:2, Interesting)

      by LehiNephi (695428)
      Popularity is not a problem in an of itself. It merely multiplies the liability of buggy code.

      If M$ had actually written decent code, encouraging bug-free and secure design (ie firing anyone responsible for a buffer overflow bug), Joe sixpack-type people would have no reason to upgrade to 2k or XP.

      Of course, that may have been M$'s intention from the beginning...
      • Re:Heh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kiwimate (458274) on Monday January 12, 2004 @12:45PM (#7953222) Journal
        If M$ had actually written decent code, encouraging bug-free and secure design (ie firing anyone responsible for a buffer overflow bug), Joe sixpack-type people would have no reason to upgrade to 2k or XP.

        So why do SuSE/Mandrake/RedHat/et. al. keep coming out with new versions of their products, then? Oh, silly me, I forgot -- you want to have it both ways. MS bringing out new versions = proof of terrible code. Linux vendors doing exactly the same thing = proof they listen to the customer.

    • I switched to an eMac last night.
    • Re:Heh (Score:5, Funny)

      by NanoGator (522640) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:53AM (#7952597) Homepage Journal
      Microsoft is dropping support for Windows 98/SE. Lots of people still use it! Pitchforks ready!!!

      Microsoft is renewing support for Windows 98/SE. Those damn buggy insecure products will never die! Pitchforks ready!!
  • Sadly Enough (Score:5, Insightful)

    by j0keralpha (713423) * on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:31AM (#7951908)
    Corporate usage of this OS is still widespread, mainly due to inertia more than anything else. Microsoft is desperately trying to get companies to switch, but getting Officer Level peeps to understand the inherent benefits is proving to be... difficult...
    • Re:Sadly Enough (Score:5, Interesting)

      by garcia (6573) * on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:37AM (#7951966) Homepage
      Well I think MS realizes that if they start a push towards upgrades there is the possibility that the fees involved might push the coporates to free alternatives... Maybe by pushing for upgrades only with Office and backend items they can leave 98 on the desktops and save themselves from companies going with a mass conversion to Linux?
      • Re:Sadly Enough (Score:3, Informative)

        by jsupreston (626100)
        FYI, as of Office 2003, you have to have either W2K sp3 or WinXP. Office XP looks like the last one to support Win98. The ongoing saga of 98 support being cancelled is why I bought the Microsoft Action Pack (were they not going to cancel support back last summer? The dates have changed so many times I can't remember). I mainly run MS stuff at home due being able to support work (and I don't think Reader Rabbit runs under Linux very well). To upgrade to WinXP Pro at home was going to cost me on the order of
      • Re:Sadly Enough (Score:3, Insightful)

        by wine (211387)
        Maybe by pushing for upgrades only with Office and backend items they can leave 98 on the desktops and save themselves from companies going with a mass conversion to Linux?

        While Microsoft keeps pushing Office upgrades, I wonder how many corporations will notice the benefits of OpenOffice then ;)
      • Re:Sadly Enough (Score:5, Insightful)

        by zerocool^ (112121) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:35AM (#7952419) Homepage Journal
        Well I think MS realizes that if they start a push towards upgrades there is the possibility that the fees involved might push the coporates to free alternatives... Maybe by pushing for upgrades only with Office and backend items they can leave 98 on the desktops and save themselves from companies going with a mass conversion to Linux?

        :%s/MS/RedHat/g

        How is it that the devil [microsoft.com] can decide to extend the end-of-life of a 6 year old operating system for another 2 years, and yet we blast them for not thinking of it earlier and point out how many would have been burned by this abandonment, yet Our Neighborhood Hero [redhat.com] decides to end-of-life an operating system that's slightly more than a year old, which many people just adopted, and which they didn't even have to write, just published, and we forgive them their tresspasses and blame it on the economy or whatever?

        I'd say that the end of life of redhat 7.3 and 9 is going to hit me much harder than the end of life of Windows98. My customers, too.

        But, whatever, go ahead and tell me how extending the life of an essentially dead OS just barely saved them in the zero hour from a mass exodus to linux, even though the historically most-popular linux distro wants to charge people almost twice the amount - per year [redhat.com] - that windows costs in a one time charge (that includes, appearantly, 6 years of updates). Oh, and that verson of linux only comes with... wait for it... zero hours of tech support, and.... quarterly updates and... in downloadable format, with no physical media!

        Tell them what they've won, Bob!
        Well, Johnny, today's contestants will receive a lifetime supply of "Microsoft is not stupid", in addition to a chance to appear on the lightning round "Companies that can do no good versus companies that can do no evil". Runners up will receive Rice-A-Roni, the san francisco treat.

        ~Will
        • Re:Sadly Enough (Score:5, Insightful)

          by 0123456 (636235) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:46AM (#7952527)
          Of course with Linux the source is readily available (though presumably not for any Redhat-specific addons), so anyone who wants to continue using it and fix bugs can do so. With Win98, that's not an option.
          • Re:Sadly Enough (Score:4, Insightful)

            by sql*kitten (1359) * on Monday January 12, 2004 @12:49PM (#7953278)
            so anyone who wants to continue using it and fix bugs can do so. With Win98, that's not an option.

            So those Win98 users - the ones whose needs aren't sophisticated enough to justify upgrading to Win2K or WinXP - are all kernel developers now?

            You can wriggle all you like, but the fact is that Microsoft is offering a near-unprecedented level of support for an EOL'd product, and Red Hat dropped the ball bigtime.
            • Start off with a base Win98 operating system (Gold release). Add 1998-era virus check, Office 97, etc.

              Now, install all the service packs, IE 6, OfficeXP SP1. Upgrade your virus scanner using LiveUpdate.

              Same software suites, but most of it jumped a few minor versions, and some of it a few major versions.

              Now consider RedHat 9 (shrike). Notice they "pick" a whole bunch a software known to work well together. Note that whenever you apply updates, not even the minor version of any package changes. Never mind
        • Re:Sadly Enough (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bogie (31020)
          "and we forgive them their tresspasses and blame it on the economy or whatever?"

          So like did you just log off the internet the day Red Hat announced their changes and just logon again today? Because that's the only way I can fathom that you would write what you just wrote.

          Red Hat has been crucified all over the internet and here especially for their decision. I can't count how many posted here that Red Hat has "screwed them" and how they'll never use them again. They've lost a good deal of users so don't y
      • Highly Doubtful (Score:3, Insightful)

        by siskbc (598067)
        Well I think MS realizes that if they start a push towards upgrades there is the possibility that the fees involved might push the coporates to free alternatives... Maybe by pushing for upgrades only with Office and backend items they can leave 98 on the desktops and save themselves from companies going with a mass conversion to Linux?

        The first proof that what you describe likely won't happen is that it *didn't* when MS axed Win95.

        Second, While Bill has nightmares of Linux on servers, it's barely on his r

    • Re:Sadly Enough (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GeckoFood (585211) <geckofoodNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:39AM (#7951984) Journal

      Corporate usage of this OS is still widespread...

      Not just in the office, but the home user market still has a huge installed base for Win98. To completely drop Win98 would further anger a large number of customers. I am no fan of Microsoft, but I would have to say that keeping support alive for another couple of years if a wise choice if they don't want to further upset their customers.

      Some will leave Microsoft anyway, and that's unavoidable. However, this way they have time to evaluate a little better what transition to make. Microsoft will of course hope that they will all go for XP or whatever is next.

      • Re:Sadly Enough (Score:5, Informative)

        by inkedmn (462994) <inkedmn@noSPAm.inkedmn.com> on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:10AM (#7952178) Homepage
        It only makes sense that 98 is still widely used, as upgrading to 2K/XP costs more than my mother-in-law is willing to spend on the stuff that lets her read her email...
        I ran 98SE for *years* before switching to Linux, and for John Q. Homeuser who has AOL and doesn't use the internet for anything more than checking local movie start times and ordering flowers for his wife's birthday, it's enough.
        • Re:Sadly Enough (Score:5, Interesting)

          by JediTrainer (314273) on Monday January 12, 2004 @12:01PM (#7952683)
          It only makes sense that 98 is still widely used, as upgrading to 2K/XP costs more than my mother-in-law is willing to spend on the stuff that lets her read her email...

          Ok, I confess...

          I'M still running 98SE on my home machine. Yes, still. I dual-boot with Linux, of course, but in order to use the VPN software my company provides (no, our VPN is not IPSEC unfortunately), I need Windows. And Outlook so I can get my email.

          Why haven't I upgraded? Because it's good enough. I don't want to give MS any more of my money, where I trade a working OS with bugs I'm now fairly familiar with for a new OS that's going to cost me more money and give me little benefit.

          If it ain't broke...
          • Not broken? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bankman (136859)
            Why haven't I upgraded? Because it's good enough. I don't want to give MS any more of my money, where I trade a working OS with bugs I'm now fairly familiar with for a new OS that's going to cost me more money and give me little benefit.

            If it ain't broke...

            And I always thought that we had agreed long ago that it is in fact severely broken.

            I am confused now....

      • Re:Sadly Enough (Score:3, Interesting)

        by aheath (628369) *
        There are many people who are quite happy with Windows 98 or Windows Me because the can do everything that they want to do with these operating systems. I suspect that Microsoft decided not to alienate the trailing edge of their customer base.

        All the friends and family members that I support are running Windows 95/98/Me unless the bought a new computer after Windows XP was released. Many people see no need to go through the hassle of an OS upgrade unless they are also moving to a new PC. Microsoft would se

      • Re:Sadly Enough (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Trurl's Machine (651488) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:35AM (#7952424) Journal
        Not just in the office, but the home user market still has a huge installed base for Win98. To completely drop Win98 would further anger a large number of customers. I am no fan of Microsoft, but I would have to say that keeping support alive for another couple of years if a wise choice if they don't want to further upset their customers.

        On the other hand, people who bought your product once in last century and do not plan to buy another in next two years... are not exactly the kind of customer base you proudly display on shareholders meeting. Looks like Microsoft has reached a dead-end. They don't know how to persuade their user base to upgrade - but they cannot make them do it by enforcing it. From the Microsoft's point of view, people running Win 98 are almost as evil as people running Linux - one way or another, they don't buy Win XP.
        • Re:Sadly Enough (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Tassach (137772) on Monday January 12, 2004 @01:40PM (#7953812)
          From the Microsoft's point of view, people running Win 98 are almost as evil as people running Linux
          Actually, they're even worse: Linux users don't actually cost MS any money, they just represent a sale that isn't going to happen. Win98 users, on the other hand, represent a bigger liability, since MS has to actually fork out real money on support, bug fixes, etc.
    • Re:Sadly Enough (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:43AM (#7952026)
      It isn't inertia, it's ROI. I'd bet you a million dollars that if you magically and seamlessly transformed every Windows 98 corporate installation into 2003 or XP Pro today, that by the end of the year revenues would not be affected... at least not positively.

      Corporate change requires urgency-borne motivation. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" may be a highly ironic cliche to wield when discussing Windows 98, but it's the fundamental reason for upgrade lag.
      • Re:Sadly Enough (Score:3, Informative)

        by droid_rage (535157)
        You'd be wrong there, from support costs alone. Since we implemented XP at the site where I work (we are currently at ~95% implementation), the number of calls to the helpdesk is down to about half what it was when we were running primarily 9x. Patches also install much more reliably using automated mechanisms. Just figuring increased productivity due to less time on the phone with tech support and spontaneous reboots is probably reason enough to migrate.
        XP is also an OS which is securable. 9x is not. Where
        • You're right in that there can be big benefits to eliminating win 9x from the IT picture (whether it be with NT/2k/xp or a Linux distro). However, none of the benefits you mention are significant AT ALL in the SME space. And by benefits, I mean DIRECT $$ SAVINGS. If it does the job Win 9x will stay there until it is forced out (ie. old machines that break down are replaced and new ones added--and 9x licences are no longer sold) or manager types are scared into upgrading (y2k and all--that's how a surpris
    • Re:Sadly Enough (Score:4, Insightful)

      by elf-fire (715733) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:45AM (#7952040)
      Why do you think this is mainly owing to inertia??? Many SME's just have a setup that does the job. Why would they need to upgrade? One smalll company I do some consultancy work for has a custom database still running on Windows 98. Not a setup I would ever choose, but for them it works. As long as it sits well protected behind a good firewall, and the user 'administering' it knows what *not* to do security is not really a big issue. Even though I am very succesful in introducing OSS into other parts of the company I could not find a single reason for them to change this particular setup. Doing so would just cost them money. I see the same thing at many SME's that operate in a non technical market.
    • Re:Sadly Enough (Score:2, Insightful)

      by holy_smoke (694875)
      Corporate usage of this OS is still widespread, mainly due to inertia more than anything else.

      What you say is true, however I would suggest that the real reason that Win9x is still so widespread is that the software meets the business' needs and they don't see a reason to spend more money on new software "just because". Remember, software is a tool - a means to an end. Is it the business' fault that the software maker failed to design a robust product?
    • Re:Sadly Enough (Score:5, Interesting)

      by greenhide (597777) <jordanslashdot&cvilleweekly,com> on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:37AM (#7952450)
      inherent benefits

      What inherent benefits?

      Okay, granted, Windows 2000, 2003 or whatever version they're peddling now is supposedly more secure and offers more features, but if an operating system works for you and you're familiar with it, what is the benefit in upgrading to an unfamiliar system?

      I think within the geek mindset, there's an assumption that of course people would always want the latest and greatest. The truth is, they want what works.

      Now, I myself use OS X, but my boss's computer runs Windows 98. He doesn't want to send Microsoft another dime -- he's somewhat upset with their crazy licensing. However, he still wants to be able to use the Windows-based software that he's got on his machine, and no, uninstalling everything and running some windows emulator on top of Linux is not something I can get him excited about.

      If it has to be called inertia, then inertia can sometimes be a good thing. I call it pragmatism.

      Or,

      "If it ain't broke..."
  • by garcia (6573) * on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:32AM (#7951914) Homepage
    Wow. MS has really been listening to users recently... This particular move came even faster than the idea to include a more configurable firewall and popup blocking! I am actually quite impressed. Perhaps they are learning THIS from Linux? Listen to your users and make changes quickly to fit what they want and need?

    At first you would think that they would want to "force" users to upgrade to XP/beyond but they realized that it probably will not happen for most users that are still running 98. If you can't beat them join them?

    Being a recent re-convert from Linux back to Windows (still use Linux for a lot but Windows solely for "desktop stuff") I am glad to see that it was worth paying the "MS tax" on the new computers I recently purchased.

    Just my worthless babbling,
    • by gl4ss (559668) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:44AM (#7952028) Homepage Journal
      they are still forcing the same way they have been forcing for a few years.

      there's practically no new stuff coming out for win98(drivers, software, hardware..) and this 'support' doesn't mean that it's getting everything patched either and made sure it would run on modern hardware, it just would mean that there's somebody that would take your support call(and may or may not prove assitance enough to be of any use). now they don't just act as if win98 doesn't exist(which is pretty much what they threated to do).

      if you can't milk them one way milk them/us the other way.
      • >there's practically no new stuff coming out for win98

        Before there was nothing for Linux. Didn't stop that OS in its popularity.

        And really, if someone hasn't upgraded Windows, its a good chance they are quite satisfied with their hardware and performance right now.
    • I don't think it has anything to do with them not promoting XP. I think MS has simply realized that many people who use Win98 simply don't care enough or don't have a need to move to XP. Once they made that realization, it couldn't have taken long for them to see the money they could make in an extra two years of support.

      Slightly stereotypical observation: People that use older OS's don't mind having to or think they have to pay support fees, because they don't want to change what already works for them.
    • The end result is the same but I don't think this had anything to do with the users input, if so, I think these additions would have been done many moons ago. MS is trying to manage the delicate balancing act of lock-in a customer or potentially lose a customer. The much smaller competition listens to users and gives the users what they want because they have to gain market share to survive. MS does the same changes but only after the competition starts gaining ground and the scale tips towards lose a cu
    • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:38AM (#7952454)
      > Wow. MS has really been listening to users recently..

      Maybe, maybe not. Homeland security is now in charge of taking care of the net. Perhaps BillG got a phone call from Tom Ridge saying, "You will patch those systems." For good or bad. Leaving Win98 root exploits alone would be problematic to say the least. Its either this or the *shudder* the mandatory federal firewall.

      The above is all conjecture, but what else could make MS change its mind so quickly?
  • Red Hat (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:35AM (#7951945)
    Yet "Red Hat will discontinue maintenance and errata support for Red Hat Linux 9 as of April 30, 2004"

    Someone, quick, find out how this makes Microsoft... bad and Red Hat... good....?!
    • Re:Red Hat (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nolife (233813)
      Someone, quick, find out how this makes Microsoft... bad and Red Hat... good....?!

      Someone quick, find out who has a copy of the Win98 source code so we fix it ourselves or contract with with someone that does. Oh wait.. One vendor and no source. Damn, locked in again.

  • by Threni (635302) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:36AM (#7951949)
    Even if support had been switched to a CD, MS had still pledged to provide security related fixes, AFAIK.
  • Hey! (Score:5, Funny)

    by freeze128 (544774) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:36AM (#7951952)
    Where is my Windows *95* support CD?
  • Well, good. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Metallic Matty (579124) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:36AM (#7951960)
    I won't claim to have ever been a fan of Microsoft, but this seems this seems like a genuinely nice move. Rather than force many people to either a) live without continued updates and tech support or b) upgrade to newer Microsoft OS software (which isn't cheap by most people's standards, including mine.)

    The consumer wins in this one. Yay for that.
    • Maybe, or maybe they got afraid that to many '98 users would eye linux as a usable alternative on the same hardware.. Raalizing that most users just use whatever is on the hardware, keeping them under windows until the next upgrade is probably also a good idea..
  • Heh (Score:5, Funny)

    by ArmenTanzarian (210418) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:36AM (#7951961) Homepage Journal
    I actually helped two people switch from 98 this week. They both started over the phone almost identically.

    Friend(s): I can't make a boot disk, it doesn't recognize the drive anymore.
    Me: You have to go into the BIOS, change the boot order and pop in a cd.
    Friend(s): The what-os?
    Me: I'm on my way.

    These aren't dumb people, but I installed their OS's and now they think they can't handle it on their parents' computers. I do like impressing people with simple things though, like showing my nephew a yo-yo for the first time.
  • Security? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shakey_Jake33 (670826) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:39AM (#7951987)
    Perhaps MS is trying to look at the big picture? I mean, like it or not, a large amount of internet users, especially coperate and home users who see little reason to upgrade from their 200's, are still using Windows 98. And rightly so from their perspective. Many people just want to use the internet, do a bit of word processing now and then and so-on, and from their perspective, there is little reason to move OS, or even upgrade computer. And with such a large amount of internet users still on this OS, maybe MS saw that keeping this secure is a near-requirement? I'm sure MS would love everyone to move to XP, but I'm sure even they know that that's not happening.
  • by Dreadlord (671979) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:41AM (#7952004) Journal
    I wonder if it has anything to do with longhorn release date, which is supposed to be released in 2006, or maybe they've found that they won't be able to release longhorn in 2006, so decided to extend their old OS's support?
  • by Sonic McTails (700139) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:41AM (#7952005)
    I find that all the time I've used Windows (since 3.1), I've never had to call tech support, and most users would be fine without ever calling. Most users will just stay with the older, outdated systems then upgrade, so Microsoft can get even more money from the few people that do call in with Windows 98 issues as last I checked they still made you pay by the minute. It doesn't require as much effort to patch an issue in 98, and the amount of money from tech support that you could rake in from keeping it supported could be a very considerable amount.
  • Seriously. Ignoring all other concerns, if they extend the release date of their next OS a couple of years, they should extend the same treatment to their last supported. If anything, this is the most solid admission (in public terms) I've seen of the admission of a very delayed Longhorn release date.
  • by Synesthesiatic (679680) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:42AM (#7952012) Homepage
    The holdouts are really squeezing a lot out of Microsoft

    This may have been a nice thing to do, but it's a bad business move IMHO. Companies still using Windows 98 have been shown that if they're stubborn enough, they'll get their way. Not only did Microsoft lose out on the Windows 2000/XP licenses they would've bought, they have to continue to pay to patch up the old workhorse.

    A similar thing happened with NT 4, although Microsoft didn't give in. I think they'll have a hell of a time when it comes time to EOL Windows 2000.

    • Like I said before... MS is probably banking on the idea that if these companies aren't forced into a company-wide OS upgrade they might be more willing to upgrade Office (according to the Slashbots, where the real money is made).

      Customers are going to get their way whether MS likes it or not. They are no longer the only viable game in town. Free software has shown that it is slowly starting to be taking hold by some early adopters...

      If I was MS I would fear that if I didn't listen to the users that I
  • by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:43AM (#7952018) Homepage
    I think they should try and clean it up an then start selling it as "Windows Classic" for whatever faults it has is has been an extremely popular OS for the consumer market.
    • What would be nice (pretty damned unlikely but nice...) would be if they GLPd (or similar) the Win98 core.
      It would be interesting to see what (if anything) the various OSS Hackers would do with it.

      Maybe nothing. Maybe people would just start rolling their own patches and fixes. Maybe some brave (or foolish...) souls would even try to fork it.
      That and you could imagine the boost it would make to Wine.

      But if nothing else, MS could finally drop support that they're obviously reluctant to continue. As the

  • by jmichaelg (148257) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:43AM (#7952020) Journal
    The article doesn't delve into the reasoning behind the decision. It would be interesting to know if:
    1. Some government somewhere muttered "Anti-Trust..." or
    2. Overseas retailers started threatening a mass migration to some form of Linux or
    3. IBM's decision to migrate to Desktop Linux played a factor or
    4. Some other factors were involved.
    Some might argue that Microsoft cares about their customers but then again, some people believe in the healing power of crystals.
  • by ChrisWong (17493) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:44AM (#7952032) Homepage
    Continued security updates for ... 8 years? You will be lucky get 8 months from Fedora. Somebody please point me to a Linux distribution that offers that duration of support at any price. Wow.
    • by OneFix at Work (684397) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:25AM (#7952320)
      Debian [debian.org].

      But then again, any free version of Linux will be upgradable to another free version of Linux. So, it kind of makes 8 years of support unnecessary in most cases.
    • I suspect if any Linux distro had the installed user base of Windows 98 the companies would be in a fiscal position to offer eight years of support. Especially when it's paid phone support - lots of suers + paid phone support probably means Microsoft can actually cover their costs on this one.

      As others have said, MS probably have other reasons for this move, including not wanting to encourage folk to switch to Linux.

      None of that is to dis Microsoft in any way - offering the security updates is going to

    • by More Trouble (211162) on Monday January 12, 2004 @12:30PM (#7953052)
      Somebody please point me to a Linux distribution that offers that duration of support at any price.

      Given that Linux distributions are open source, if there were a market for such long support, someone would sell it. Much like a company [progeny.com] other than RedHat is supporting old RedHat distributions. I like to call this effect "free market done right."

      :w
  • Damn. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:44AM (#7952036) Homepage
    This is an extremely good thing for people who use Microsoft products, both in terms of what it will do now, and in terms of what it seems to hint at regarding how Microsoft will support its discontinued products.

    This means it's a horrible thing for the rest of us, because it will slow the rate at which people are becoming disillusioned and ultimately fed up with Microsoft. I had always thought that Microsoft's stringent policy of bullying and abandoning anyone who won't go along with their periodic forced upgrades is the best gift MS's competitors could have possibly recieved; now the chance to take advantage of that gift is to a certain extent gone.

    After all, it's hard to give people reasons to switch away from something they're used to, and hard to convince people to switch away from something they're used to. It's just so much easier when Microsoft creates the reasons and does the convincing for us. If they stopped doing that, we'd have to win on the actual merits of our products, and we don't want that, do we? This is a black day indeed.
  • by FearUncertaintyDoubt (578295) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:46AM (#7952049)
    If a new vulnerability were to surface, and MS refuses to provide an update for the millions of Win98 users, and this causes a lot of trouble for them, it just looks bad for MS. Fair or not, given the way they are portrayed, saying, "hey, we told you, we aren't supporting that anymore" isn't going to stick. It's going to be another case of how Microsoft is responsible for another security problem.
  • 2006 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MP3Chuck (652277) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:47AM (#7952061) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps they're extending it to 2k6 because of Longhorn? I mean, it makes sense. Just before they released XP they stopped support of 95. They probably want to wait for Longhorn before they drop support of 98. I can't see any other reason they'd support an OS for so long. (Let's ignore the fact that perhaps they should support all of their OS's regardless. Though that'd be some task.)
    • That's a good point. If they EOL Windows 98 before Longhorn is out, then a lot of people will switch to XP in the year before Longhorn arrives. This means that when Longhorn is released, the pressure to upgrade will have been significantly relieved. If they make the two dates relatively close together, a lot of people will simply go straight from 98 to Longhorn.

  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:47AM (#7952067)

    I think Microsoft has forgotten over the last few years that people still keep their old computers, and businesses don't like upgrading their operating systems every 18 months. Any reasonably large systems platform, be it Windows or Linux, requires huge amounts of effort to correctly integrate applications. And once you get it right, changing things is a very tough sell.

    I've been a Windows admin for quite a while, and I've worked in some very complex environments. In some cases, we're talking about over 50 "supported" applications that the IT department has to ensure work with each other and the OS. The other end of the spectrum, of course, is small business and home users, who don't want to change until they absolutely have to.

    The thing that has had me most upset with MS in the last 4 years or so (besides all the security holes and worms...) has been their assumption that everyone will instantly upgrade to the next version of the OS as soon as it comes out. Lots of places still use NT 4.0, both on the client and server side. Try getting support for it now...Microsoft couldn't be bothered. I know you can't extend support indefinitely, but Microsoft should at least acknowledge that there are thousands of copies of Win9x and WinNT still in production.

    • The logistics of this is NOT a nightmare. The procedures and tools were evolved/acquired through trial and error. A process the client does NOT want to even chance at repeating.

      The expense is astonishing.

      The latest OS with all the multimedia geeegaws need not apply. These desktops are owned by an employer. People are supposed to be working. Internet access is restricted and email goes through better software than Outlook.
  • by ConceptJunkie (24823) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:49AM (#7952077) Homepage Journal
    Well, people have been suffering under Windows 98 for years. Microsoft oughta be stuck supporting the crap they served us in the first place.

    Just desserts, man.

    I'm in the process of helping the parish office at my church to upgrade to Windows 2000, because their Windows 98 network gets screwed up about once a month. I want Microsoft to feel some of my pain, since it's their fault in the first place.

    MS, You made your crap, now sleep in it.

    This is good news because I figure it's much less likely for them to pull support for Win2k any time soon, which is actually decently stable. Anyone who needs a reliable system should upgrade from Windows 98 because it's crap, but I see no little or compelling reason to upgrade Windows 2000. Therefore, I was expecting MS to drop it like a hot potato to force upgrades. The problem with Win98 is that a lot of people are using it because they can't afford to upgrade. Therefore, MS shouldn't screw these people by forcing an expense on them they aren't willing to support this dog.

    I expect Windows 2000 will be used for a long, long time.

  • by aml666 (708712) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:49AM (#7952079) Homepage
    I do some projects with companies in other countries (Venezuela, Brazil, ...). I have yet to do business with a company that has an OS later than Windows 98. These poorer countries/businesses(US as well) simply can't afford to upgrade. Unlike most "consumer-minded" Americans, there are a lot of people out there who actually can not see any benefit in upgrading from an OS that does what they need.

    Windows 98 works fro most small business needs (especially if they are not on the internet). I believe that this also applies to Office 97. I still use Office 2000 and OpenOffice.
  • Jumping to Linux. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:54AM (#7952109)
    My previous computer (450Mhz PIII with 64MB ram) was a Windows 98 machine. I was fed up Windows Failing me, and with Windows XP out (no way was it going to run on my machine) and MS trying to make me switch, so I switched, to Mandrake Linux in December 2001. I kept windows on there until April 2002 for the transition period though.

    KDE 2.2 was a lot better than the Windows 98 desktop and thanks to Wine I got my legacy applications working and I was incredibly happy.

    Now Ive got my new computer with SuSE 9.0 (1666Mhz with 768 Mb RAM), I won't ever want to go back to Windows if they paid me. Still I know two freinds still on Windows 9x, both with older machines, (233mhz with 32Mb RAM and 800mhz with 64Mb ram) Should I convince them to switch or convince them to get a new computer?
    • (233mhz with 32Mb RAM and 800mhz with 64Mb ram) Should I convince them to switch or convince them to get a new computer?
      The 233 MHz dude should get a new computer.

      The one with 800 MHz and only 64 MB RAM should get more RAM (get atleast 256MB) and switch to either Windows 2000 or Mandrake 9.2

    • There are some reasons some people absolutely need some version of Windows handy, even if on a separate boot partition. For one thing, you cannot set up a Verizon DSL account -- absolutely the most affordable broadband around -- without running their custom Windows or Mac software.
      • "For one thing, you cannot set up a Verizon DSL account -- absolutely the most affordable broadband around -- without running their custom Windows or Mac software."

        Not true AFAIK. I had Verizon DSL in 2001 (and please let me know if they've since changed things) and my gateway/router was able to use the service just fine, regardless of what OS the machines connected to it were running.

  • For God's sake, WHY??

    95, 98x, 2k, they're all far beyond their useful life.

    • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wirehead_rick (308391)
      Because there is nothing that can be done in anything beyond Windwoes 98 that can't be done in Windwoes 98 or Linux.

      Why upgrade to newer more buggy Sw with more bloated and less productive features just to put up with more bugs?

      Windows 98SE is stable enough to justify it's use. Windows XP has nothing at all to justify it's expense, M$ invasion of privacy, and putting up with more bugs that inevitably exist with new bloated feature laden and bug laden SW.
    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TiggsPanther (611974)

      Windows 95 I'd agree with you. But not really with any of the other two.

      Win2K still works fine. Apart from a few issues, there's very little in XP over Win2K. And the improvements which are there aren't really worth the hefty price-tag. And that's just for home use.

      Corporately, why should companies have to spend stacks of money on replacing software that not only does it's job, but would require newer hardware to support the change.

      Hell, where I work I'd dearly love to be able to switch them out of

    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Decaff (42676)
      In what sense? If someone purchased a machine with win98 installed, is it suddenly going to stop working? Will the screen go blank, the printer stop?

      Microsoft has an obligation to issue security patches for these older systems, as these correct faults in the package as supplied years ago. If the systems were shipped with sloppy code and buffer overruns they were not fully fit for the intended use.
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by faedle (114018) on Monday January 12, 2004 @12:06PM (#7952749) Homepage Journal
      For the same reason that people live in 100-year-old houses, use 20-year-old toasters, and ten-year-old refrigerators.

      Because they continue to do the job that they were originally purchased for. Yes, they are not without problems, but when the problems are minor (or are just plain annoying) it is difficult for your average consumer to justify spending $500+ on a new computer.. not to mention the inconvenience of having to move everything from the old machine to the new one.

      Heck, I'll even admit that I have an old Win98SE box sitting around here. Never got around to updating it to Win2k. It gets about 10 hours a month of use, so it hasn't been a high priority.
  • by TintinX (569362) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:17AM (#7952229) Homepage
    The problem for Microsoft is that Average Joe home users, by and large, do not upgrade their OS.
    If you think back a few years to when the public were really starting to get turned on to the Internet - this would be the time of Win98 or its SE sequel.
    It was also at this time that PCs started to reach the speed and capacity that gave most people what they would want for ever more - Web, Email, Word etc.
    Quite a few of my friends and family bought computers for the first time around this period and not a single one of them is even thinking about upgrading. It's just not something that comes into their heads. They switch their computers on, check email, write a letter, book a ticket etc. and then switch them off again.
    Ergo, the home user market for Win98/SE is huge and will probably remain so for a long time to come.

  • This is good news. Microsoft gives itself an enormous amount of bad publicity by being the "Doctor Death" of assisted suicide for its own products, particularly when such a large percentage of its customers use the old product.

    Note that there is NO comparison between Microsoft and Red Hat. If you are forced by Microsoft to move away from Windows 98, you can only move to a completely new operating system, Windows XP, which almost certainly will require new hardware, is very expensive due to new licensing
  • These things can't be had for love nor (reasonable quantities) of money --- they sell on EBay for twice what they cost from Microsoft ($19.95 originally).

    Unfortunately I bought a system which was supposed to have Win98SE on it, it didn't I didn't fuss 'cause I heard Win98 was more stable, then when I went to purchase some accessories found that there's a _lot_ of stuff which only works w/ Win98SE or later (and doesn't w/ Win98 first edition).

    The weird thing is MS will sell one a CD w/ patches for Win98 fi
  • During a meeting a month or two ago someone mentioned that we had 20,000 Windows 98 support calls in the previous month (at $35 a pop) and when 98 support is ended, that is a loss of $700,000 a month of revenue. These customers who many of which bought their computers during the internet craze are limping along at 200MHz or so and a new OS for them means a new computer. So we considered this pretty much a bad move. (As contract people not MS employees)
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:48AM (#7952547) Homepage Journal
    Either way Microsoft has a problem.

    If they don't extend the patch cutoff date on what is perhaps
    still the most commonly used OS out there, they are sort of liable for
    damages incurred by the PC's. ( and piss off a LOT of future upgrade
    customers ) Perhaps not legally liable, but morally..

    if they DO patch, then people will expect support forever on what
    is outdated software, which isn't realistic, and wont upgrade to something
    more current and 'supported'..
  • by Orion Blastar (457579) <orionblastar@noSPAm.gmail.com> on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:50AM (#7952571) Homepage Journal
    they have a machine that cannot be upgraded to run Windows 2000 or XP. If they want to run 2000 or XP, they need to buy a brand new machine.

    Ironically I still know people running Windows 3.X or Windows 95 or even DOS. They cannot afford to upgrade to a newer machine or newer software. They could; however, run Linux or *BSD Unix on their systems if they knew how. Not as fast as modern machines, but enough to limp along.

    New machines can cost like $500USD to $600USD, and then they have to buy the modern software to run on them, as they cannot use the older software as the EULA usually does not allow them to switch it from one machine to another. Plus it may not run on the newer machine or use all the features.

    An alternative is to head to Wal-Mart or some other place that sells a $400USD Lindows machine and use OpenOffice.Org etc. Then they need to be retrained for the new OS and software. Then use OSS software for everything else. This of course would require the assistance of someone like a Slashdotter who is Linux savvy and can train them.

    Another alternative is to buy a used machine with 2000 or XP on it, or 2000/XP ready. Still the softare will need to be upgraded. The hardware costs will be less than the new machine.

    Yet another alternative is if they have an ATX case, to just get a new ATX motherboard, CPU, Memory, and ATX power supply. Get an all-in-one motherboard with built in Video, Audio, LAN, Modem, etc. Like an NForce2 chipset motherboard. Still need to buy 2000/XP and the software upgrades. The hardware cost will be lower than a new machine, and may be lower than an used machine.

    No matter what the option, the 98 user may have to buy new hardware to migrate to 2000/XP.
  • Competition... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OneFix at Work (684397) on Monday January 12, 2004 @12:32PM (#7953078)
    What are the odds that this is related to the gain in popularity of Linux and OpenOffice.org as well as a revival of the Mac in the form of OS X???

    I'm almost certain that M$ would rather lose a little cash than see users start jumping ship. What M$ is starting to realize is that when your customers are forced to upgrade, they can still choose your competitor's product.
  • by Avihson (689950) on Monday January 12, 2004 @12:42PM (#7953182)
    I have 98 on my second pc so I believe this relates pretty well:
    My second car is a 94 Ford Tarus, built in 93, and the company has put out an incompatible upgrade every year since the model's release.
    But I can still get oem parts, support and even factory recall notices on this car.

    Ford got a lump sum from me 10 years ago, no support contract, and yet they mailed me a notice about a free "patch" for a "bug" 8 years after the model was released. I took this car to the local dealer, and they fixed a potential problem completely free. My particular car did not have the defective part, but they replaced a perfectly good part just in case.
    Yes they tried to sell me on a new car, but they still make model specific parts for this car and older models.
  • I wonder if.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tiger99 (725715) on Monday January 12, 2004 @01:44PM (#7953861)
    ... they were threatened with the Sale of Goods Act in the UK, and are having to support it for 7 years, as required by law. If they have to support it in one country, they in effect end up supporting it everywhere.

    The fact is, that is it is not of merchantable quality, or fit for the intended purpose, it has to be repaired, replaced (with what? XP will not run on most hardware that runs 98), or the purchase price refunded.

    In the UK, a court case established that software is in fact goods. If someone has stitched them up with threats of a class action, which would result in them replacing or refunding every single copy of 98, all I can say is well done.

    If it happened as a result of legal pressure somewhere else, again well done. The sad thing is that we may never know why, I sense the outcome of some out of court settlement with someone, somewhere, lying behind this.

    Polite request to Bill: Can I please have my money back for the copy of ME which I purchased to try to get a bug fix for 98, but which in fact never worked properly? Or, do I have to take you to the UK Small Claims Court?

  • evolution of OS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mabu (178417) on Monday January 12, 2004 @01:48PM (#7953910)
    My experience has been that with Microsoft products in many applications, the OS puts the demands on the hardware configuration more than the applications themselves. So if you're using Win98 and it does what you need it to do, there is no motivation for upgrading. When I cannot get a Windows machine to perform adequately and its hardware isn't up to spec to run the latest, heavily-bloated version of Windows, that's the day the machine becomes a Unix box and has new life as a backup, firewall, syslogd, mail, DNS, web, ftp server or other workstation.

    I suspect I'm not alone. Microsoft's desire to try to force users to upgrade will only backfire on them in this respect. The more useless older hardware becomes to their newer OS versions, the larger the market will be for the Unix and open-source community.

There is no royal road to geometry. -- Euclid

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