Microsoft said it has made a tool available that can be used to delete an identifying number from users' hard drives that was generated when they registered Windows 98.
The company promised last month to provide such a tool and to modify future releases of its Windows 98 Registration Wizard so it would not include the feature, which sends a hardware serial number to a Microsoft server.
When they learned of the identification feature, privacy advocates objected because it could be used to collect private information of users without their permission.
To get access to the tool, Windows 98 users can go directly to the start menu, then click on "Windows Update," "Product Update" and "Registration Wizard Update," according to Claudia Husemann, a spokeswoman at Microsoft's US public relations firm.
Windows 95 users, although not effected by the identification number, can get access to the tool by going to the company's Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/ ,clicking on "Free Downloads", then "Windows Update", "Product Update" and "Registration Wizard," Husemann said.
Windows 95 users of Internet Explorer 4, IE 4.0.1 and IE 5 can access the tool, but Netscape Navigator browser users must first download IE 5.