SAN FRANCISCO -- Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, and Windows Millennium Edition are nearing the end of their support from Microsoft.
The software vendor will stop supporting these OS editions on July 11, according to information on its Web site.
On that date all public and technical support for the products will be suspended, and Microsoft also will stop security updates for the OSes, the company says. However, online self-help support will be available for the OSes on Microsoft's support Web site until at least July 11, 2007.
Microsoft considers these OSes outdated and believes that they therefore pose security risks to customers, which is why the company is ending support for them, according to its Web site. Microsoft recommends that customers still running these editions upgrade to newer versions of Windows, such as Windows XP, as soon as possible.
Microsoft originally planned to end support for Windows 98 and Me in January 2004, but extended it to June 30, 2006, before announcing in January that final support would come on July 11 to allow for some last security patches.
Windows 98 and Me are less likely to be found in businesses than they are on home machines. According to a December 2005 Jupiter Research survey of nearly 2300 PC customers, 16 percent were running Windows 98 or 98 SE in their homes, and 6 percent were running Windows Me.
Microsoft recently pushed back the consumer release of the next major update to Windows, Windows Vista, to January 2007. Jupiter Media analyst Joe Wilcox says that the delay means customers still running Windows 98 or Me who must upgrade by July will most likely move to Windows XP and forgo upgrading to Vista upon its release. This poses a concern for Microsoft, which "still is not getting people to upgrade as quickly as [the company] would like," he says.
Since Microsoft originally expected Vista to be released a lot sooner than it will be, the company may have thought the new OS would be available when it decided to end support for 98, 98 SE, and Me in July, Wilcox adds.