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Microsoft Closes Books on Windows 98, ME — No Support For You

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Windows 98 and Window Millennium Edition (ME) have been continuing to receive updates from Microsoft via Windows Update, though Windows 2000, Windows XP (2002), Windows Server 2003 have all been released, and users encouraged to upgrade. More than 70 million people have resisted the call to upgrade and are still using the older releases of Windows.

No longer! After July 11, 2006, users of W98 and WME will have to fend for themselves, and Microsoft will no longer be releasing updates for those two operating systems. Microsoft had originally intended to "end-of-life" W98 and WME in January 2004, but then extended the dealing to allow users — primarily business users — time to upgrade older systems to newer releases of Windows. About two-thirds of the users are running the older Windows 98, with fewer than 25 million reportedly running the newer but less-well-received Windows ME.

Users running these older releases are encouraged to run one final Windows Update on or before July 11 to make sure that they get the latest patches there are, but I suspect that many — perhaps most — of these users don't even realize that Windows Update is still an option for them. They have a system that "just works," and either the hardware is ill-equipped to handle newer and more-demanding operating systems, or they cannot afford the upgrade cost, or they don't see the additional cost as worthwhile. These systems will run until they simply cannot run any more.

Many people — including this writer — see Windows 98 and Windows 2000 as the peak of Microsoft's operating system development, while Windows ME was awful. There are many excellent new features in WXP and W2003, but I find them uncompelling, and I'm disappointed by many of the other changes that come along with them. Fortunately, support for Windows 2000 is continuing, and perhaps some of the now-abandoned W98 and WME systems will upgrade that far.

Someday support for Windows 2000 will end, and many more users will face the choice these users are facing now. As Microsoft faces continuing delays and negative coverage of their forthcoming "Vista" operating system, and as users realize that most hardware shipping today will be inadequate to the task of running the upgrade well, Microsoft may face a far larger group of users unwilling or unable to upgrade from older systems.

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  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    I am a WinME survivor.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    If you’re on dialup like me, and you’ve never run Windows Update before, better start your download now. It just might finish before July 11.

  • Thomas D. Potter

    We up graded from 98 to XP 2 years ago and found as many did that XP was far from the reliable software that 98 was. sure glad I got rid of microsoft stock.

  • Donald Qualls

    I’m still on Win98SE for three simple reasons. First, the upgrade cost — the best price I’ve seen for current service pack XP Home is about $80 (for each of three machines), and my budget has degraded considerably since I bought into having five computers on a network at home. Second, the “upgrade” feature, I’ve been repeatedly warned over the past five years, doesn’t really work; you’ll get a flaky XP install if you don’t let it format the system and install clean, which would cost me most of a week to reinstall all my applications, not counting the time to make a full backup of 200 GB of hard disk space (until quite recently, that backup was flatly impossible — the only practical way to back up that much data is to another HDD, and those aren’t free). Third, one of the three machines I have still on 98 is very, very marginal to run XP at all — 300 MHz, 192 MB RAM, 4 GB hard disk; an 8 year old laptop that I can’t afford to replace, can only with difficulty and considerable expense even add memory (and then only, at most, another 96 MB), and which is still very useful to me because, though the battery is long toasted, the machine is still easily portable, accesses my network, and runs.

    Buying a used machine to get the XP is a non-starter, IMO — transfer the OS and I’ll have to activate, and picture me on the phone with MS (on my nickel, with a long hold time and 3 hours time zone difference) trying to convince them they should let me activate a copy of XP someone else originally purchased, and oh, BTW, can I re-register this into my own name?

  • Norbert Cramer

    Finally up-graded to 98SE since I’m still using a DOS program that’s a dedicated database that ACESS still can’t beat Will need to find another way to handle the “dbf” records????

  • Librarian

    Rural public libraries that have public access computers (PAC) are on 98SE for the same reasons mentioned here – can’t afford to upgrade. Libraries that can afford to pay for a non profit 501(c)3 status – ($500 to the government if you do it yourself – over $1000 if you get a lawyer to help you) – can get greatly reduced software like Windows XP from Techsoup. But small rural libraries can’t afford the 501(c)3 status so we pay the same price for software and hardware that everybody else pays. We may not have the official 501(c)3 status but I can assure you we ARE non-profit.

  • mike420666

    windows 98 is better than windows xp it is easyer to run and the updates are cheeper i dont like windows xp i had it on my computer and i took it of becouse windows 98 is better thank you

  • christiangrinder

    I have both system on my PC W-ME and W-XP… I have Scanner, DVD with TV out, Video Captured Card and many good software all are not supported in WXP, that is the reason that I still running Windows ME, but my little brother likes “GAMES” is a poor reason that I have WINDOWS XP.

    The same history with MSOffice 2000 are great for me… MSOffice XP is awful with a huge of warnings for any stupid thing.

    WINDOWS 98 & ME are great operating system… XP have nice colors that is all!!!

  • christiangrinder

    I forgot to mention, WINDOWS XP forced to you to BUY new stuffs when oldest working just fine.

  • mc1153usa

    I have tried to use XP and i think that the system is unreliable and way over priced. When i did try to upgrade the system never find this or that files.Win 98se is a great system with a backbone,XP as far as i am concerned is the worst operating system i have used to date.SP2 killed 2 hard drives andi can’t afford to pay 199 dollars for each computer to be upgraded.Why did they do this? Its all about more money for the rich and too bad for the poor people.

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    Sorry I’ve got to disagree, I’ve been using Windows since 3.1 and after I set XP to the classic view it acts and emulates 98 perfectly and I’m using two hard drives on the same platform. I scavenged my old one, attached it to the new one for the files as Drive D, then coverted it to a back up/storage drive.

    I especially love the System Restore so I can turn back the clock when I screw up something.

    I’ve just downloaded the beta 3 copy of Windows Explorer 7.0 and I lovvvvvvve it, I can now monitor several websites and two of my e-mails on the same page in little windows-refreshing them individually or all at the once with the click of a mouse, and it’ll load as many websites as I ask simultaneously when I log on

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    PS, you can set XP to emulate any operation system back to 98 to run a particular piece of software just by right clicking it.

  • Sarah, UK

    I’m running XP on the desktop and 98 on the little old laptop I have for writing and study. Both systems are excellent, I used to have 2000 but found it to have too many incompatibilities. Too many friends have used ME and find it the worst system ever. I think you have to switch to classic view and disable some of the auto features to make XP really usable though. When I first started using it, I thought the view was terrible!

    Typical of Microsoft though, “sod the little guy, we want MORE billions!”

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    actually you don’t have to buy any software-I’m running ClarisWorks spreadsheets that were written for Windows 95! I thought I’d have to buy all new software but XP was designed to be completely backwards compatible.

    Windows Vista should be great. I’m using Vista’s Beta three version of Internet explorer 7.0 and I lod it and there’s a program called Windows Defender that runs circles around every other pop up program I’ve ever used. Just go to their website and their free down loads!.. And their designed to run on XP SP2

  • foringmar

    This page does not show right. The left part of the mid.section is hidden behind the leftmost column.

  • JimmyTheGeek

    I hate it when people start complaing that MS is only doing this to get people to upgrade. That is just bull…

    MS is abandoning Win98, becuase it’s 8 years old! I don’t want to start an argument here, but what is the oldest MacOS that’s supported? OSX… which is less than 3 years old.

    MS had done a great job keeping 98 and Me up to date, and somewhat secure. But it’s time to let that old tech go to that nice home in Florida…

    Yes, 98 was one of the best OS’s I’ve ever run. I still have the video of the 98 pre-release tech demo where Bill and his assistant plug in a USB scanner, and they get a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death). Brings a tear to this tech’s eye to see such a pillar of the OS world be phased out.

    I still have 98 on my server, and it runs just about as perfect as it can, concidering it runs 2 programs all day, mIRC and PCAnywhere.

    My desktop came with Me, and I swear, if I find another person out there with it on their computer, I will kill them for not putting XP, 98, or even 2000 on. If your running Me, email me, and I will buy you a copy of XP, and mail it to you! (click my name to email me!)

    But guys and gals… just because they aren’t updating it anymore, doesn’t mean it will stop working… you can use Windows 98 untill armageddon, and it will still run fine… but if anyone finds a hole, it just won’t be patched…

    Sorry for my rant, but I just hate people who complain that MS is doing this for money. No, they are doing this becuase it’s time to let this magnificent peice of software live out it’s life in that nice retirement home that MS built, just for it.

  • bradeh

    rememebr southpark…where windows 98 crashed, an he says,,,,,GODDAMN WINDOWS 98 GET BILL GATES IN HERE, then shoots him….

  • David Dostal

    Linux is an excellent upgrade choice for many of these older machines. It is free, secure, kept current, upgrades are are based on function, rather than the revenue, and it does not use sneaky methods to download “updates” on your machine that check for pirated software every day. Also the logo (penguin) is really cool. Just enjoy!

  • Mike Dickinson

    OK now that this is happening what do I do with the old computer that is giving me problems. If I upgrade to a new operating system, what happens to 5 years worth of saved files and pictures.
    Thanks Mike Dickinson

  • http://blogs.epicindia.com/leapinthedark Richard Marcus

    I have two machines, a desktop which was purchased in 2000, and a laptop bought used which is even older. The desktop is running the original Windows 98 (not even second edition)while the laptop had been upgraded to 98SE from 95.

    I’ve always loved the moto “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and have often wondered why computer companies have never heard of that one. The problem for us is that we are now no longer able to do any hardware upgrades aside from memory, hard drive, and optical drives. Even the most basic equipmetn has to be at least 98SE, and now I can see that vanishing.

    Everything is now geared towards XP, from downloaded songs at I-tunes to newest versions of software packaging. XP may be a fine system, but like an earlier commentator I’m not in a position to buy an operating system, even an upraded version is probably beyond my means at the moment.

    What I really resent is the fact that my choises are being dictated by someone else. I don’t care whether it’s Mac making you upgrade or Bill Gates and company, it’s all the same.

    From Microsoft’s point of view I guess it doesn’t make sense to have to offer support to all sorts of systems that they no longer even sell, but you’d think they would notice how many people still use individual systems and make their decisions based on that rather than just arbitrarily make a cut off date because of age.

    What ever happened to customer satisfaction versus corporate greed? I know there will come a day when I will have to switch to XP, but I’m sure by then it will be long past it’s stale date, and I’ll end up in the same boat I’m in again. The only note of reassurance that I’ve heard has been Victor’s saying that you can get XP to emulate any previous version of Windows that you liked – but if that’s the case, why should I switch to XP if I’m still pretty much using 98?

    Oh well I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, what with everything being made these days seeming to be obsolete as soon as you leave the store.

    Thanks for the good article Philip and confirming what I’ve pretty much believed all along.

    Richard Marcus

  • S.N.IYER

    I held on to ME till Jan this year. I then upgraded to XP with SP2. Now I have all the time to regret. Anytime, I make a hardware change, I am asked to activate. When I try to activate, I am told to contact Customer Care. When I contact Customer care, I am asked to note down a 54 digit key and ring them up on a toll free number. When I do this I am asked to explain as to why I updated. I am asked to note a 48 digit key and punch it into my system.

    ALL THIS BECAUSE I UPGRADED TO WINDOWS XP!I am being treated like a criminal because of my honesty.

  • Frank Schmeisser

    My last Microsoft OS is w2k which runs nicely on my laptop. I deliberately bought a desktop without OS and installed SuSE Linux 10.1. I’m pretty much done with the Microsoft merry-go-round.

  • Doc

    Mayby Win ME is quirky on some machines, but on mine and dozens of others that I have serviced over the years as an onsite troublshooting technician the problems were much easier to solve with much less hassle. Generally, I have to say that Win ME is still the safest best for many folks as opposed to Win XP since I’ve seen several systems that just wouldn’t take XP no matter what I tried – No Lie and we had to revert to ME.

  • Tim

    For rural libraries, contact the Gates Foundation. Libraries are supposed to be one of THE favored entities for Bill giving out massive amounts of grant cash.

  • http://www.makesyougohuh.com Amanda

    I actually loved ME. I had more problems with XP than ME.

  • zorux

    Win98SE, runs very well in fact I’m running on it (never updated). Updating is for MicroSoft computers control.
    Updates & upgrades seems to be unnecesary. Have you notice how fast the computer captures trojans and worms after service pack installation or update? Virus developers keeps firing on XP target
    and MS and some software companies keep users buying antispam, firewalls etc.
    Win98 is very much secure than XP.
    The XP system have several holes for privacy watching. It allows anybody including MS to get inside your computer. Remote assistance? HA! You must call it REMOTE COMPUTER CONTROL.
    WinME is “domesticable” after few settings and backing up some system files (just in case).
    Conclussion: You just need is to update the drivers only when you change to another architecture (Pentium II to IV or AMD chipset).
    Microsoft is forcing us to XP or any future OS, in one way or another their policy is to keep users under control. You serve them well anytime you start their “Messenger”
    WinXP is like the Titanic was: Too big and few lifesavers on board!
    Thanks for the chance.
    Zorux.

  • Joe

    Doc, that is ridiculous. If by onsite troubleshooting technician you mean that like 90% of computer users you know nothing, then yes I would agree. Though 98SE was a great OS, ME was an absolute pile. It was very crash prone and had MAJOR compatability issues with many, many applications.

    People, these OS’s are not going away. They will still work just fine. More than likely most of the people using 98 and ME weren’t downloading the updates anyways. It’s not going to effect you one bit. Moreover, Microsoft allows you to put one copy of XP on like 2 or 3 machines, as long as you own them all.

    As for XP, switch to classic view and all will be fine. Moreover, for those of you who have problems with things crashing and running slow, it’s because you need to reformat once in a while. A comment like “I have 5 years worth of info on that computer is hard to fathom.” Reformat, you’ll be amazed at how much better your machine will run.

  • http://www.filewire.com Jonahsm3lls

    windows 3.1 was a dinosaur, windows 95 was a step in the right direction, windows 98 got closer to what i wanted from a commercial os, then windows me was a terrible excuse for an os, bsod all the time, constant crashes, bah, just a poor excuse for anything resembling helpful, windows 2000 did it right with stability and support, then xp came with some hefty requirments, it’s just too bad sp2 broke every xp system i put it on, now i just use a clean xp install and don’t bother with updating…. i can only hope when vista is commercial it does what it should without needing a system more powerful than what’s required to play doom3 or halflife2!!!!

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    I could’ve sworn I said that waaaay back in comment 14?

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    I completely understand why people are still running Windows 98, it’s Windows ME that puzzles me. That was always a piece of garbage, from day one.

    It did come pre-installed on a lot of cheap PCs, though, and I’m guessing that’s the userbase.

    Windows 2000 kicks ME’s butt, and XP’s butt. And 98’s butt. Windows 2000 is great.

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    Come to think of it, I love Office 2000 as well. 2000 was a good year for Microsoft.

  • Linux convert

    that’s why I decided to move onto Linux systems.
    you get networking and server capability, yet you also get good functional softwares for web browsing, office productivity, multimedia…etc, all for free!

    Dear Librarian from post #6, you should definitely look into a linux system! for what you need for a PAC, linux totally supports it, with much better security!

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    yes, linux is a great way to go if you’re looking to “un-microsoft” yourself. i installed suse 10.x a several months ago and have never looked back.

    heck, i didn’t even have to reboot after the install!

  • Sen McCartney

    Hey guys, buy a mac! For 500 bucks you can get a machine that runs windows, is reliable, is fast, and cheap. And when you get tired of screwing with windows, a Mac has its own operating system that doesn’t crash, doesn’t get viruses, and doesn’t need drivers for most perfs! Let me tell you, once you try a mac, ya won’t go back.

  • arizz

    why win98 and win 2000. and not xp/vista….umm 4gig just for install, so much junk in windows half of which we don`t need, i.e roxio cd writing built into XP, oh come on please we all use different stuff..i.e. nero, cdwin etc… XP has so so much junk it takes a 1.5 ghz chip to even run comfortably and at least 512mb of ram to boot, even that`s borderline…vista…ooo BOOTLOCKER…ermmm not good at all especially for us linux users..put simply win98/NT/ME/2000 was nice clean o/s`s that did the job of what there meant to do and that`s give us a platform to work on. XP/MCE/VISTA ummm do we really need a computer to become a multimedia hub that`s really just gonna be plugged into a TV and do little else, we are coming away from a computer being a tool to work with, too an entertainment system. i want a computer to be a computer and nothing else…..

  • dave derham

    For the person who uses a mac….I got one here, Im typing on it now,its a dual core 2ghz powerpc G5 six months old, 2 machines later and four yes four crashes this week alone,should be called a lesspowerpc.Let me tell you macs do crash macs need defragging (often) using OnyX, the networking is the worst ive ever seen, and to beat all that apple uses windows servers….
    Support is excellent from apple but as Dire straights once said I WANT MY OLD XP……

  • yo mama

    MUAHAHAHA , its about time !

    get linux if ur still using win95/98,awesome OS and free too

    i used vista for a while but it blows a donkes dik so i switched to kubuntu ,

    linux rulz ,

  • Baronius

    I run maybe 90% of my applications on Windows 95. I’m running them on a Civil-War-era machine with nowhere near the specs for an upgrade. I’d guess that most people with old OS’s (let’s say ME and older) have machines that couldn’t handle newer OS’s, and would never think of upgrading their software. Let’s face it, the average ME user isn’t going to reformat his hard drive (at least not on purpose), and when his machine gets too slow, he’ll buy a new one.

    But you can keep running an old computer with an old OS. You just have to know your limitations. I have occasional problems online, but fewer than you’d think. Netscape is far more forgiving than Internet Explorer. No JAVA, but very few popup ads. That’s a great tradeoff. I’ve got graphics and audio working fine, no problems with data transfer, and no paper clip asking me if I’m trying to write a letter. It’s a decision I’ve consciously made, but even a less experienced user can do pretty well without support.

  • Ricky Bobby

    Hi everybody!!!!

    Win98 and WinXPis just like an old Ford Thunderbird and a (new)Ford 500 duking it out on the Talladega speedway.

    Then comes along Win2000 to get win98 and WinNT compatibility and they duke it out some. 2000 made some hefty gains in trying to get win95/98/Me and NT to get along and it suffered at first then SP1 helped out a lil bit…

    But wait here comes XP… Its a new experience for M$ to save its client base or rather control it. Xp says you have to let M$ know your running it so they know it aint stolen software but hold on Intel tried to do the same thing with its chips and woola AMD stocked sored…

    But hold on there….

    Now M$ has Vista and hey its got 64bit and same ol Windows security and issues…. Who cares.. It isnt like we need 64bit OS’s to run games and everything… I mean why not just work on 128 bits or something… Geez those rocket scientists…

    They could always tweak the 98core you know. I have a feeling people are already working on a Win98 kernel like they do for that lunesta they always talk about and it will be a few files with different names like that purple pill guy. The 98 core will be completely rewritten so that M$ cant sue and it will be GNU licensed. they’ll call it a 98 something or another… You just wait and see!!!

    Ummm just wait and see…. I think its gonna happen…. Don’t believe anything Bill and and Steves says…. They got me on a laser lock so I better get out of here…

    See you all at the speedway…….

    Ricky!