End of Win 98 support leaves users unfazed

Enterprise users say they are unfazed that support for Microsoft's Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition (SE) and Windows Millennium Edition (ME) ends in July 2006.

Microsoft will officially stop public and technical support - including security updates - for the legacy operating systems on July 11, according to information on its Web site).

However, online self-help support will be available for the OSes on Microsoft's support Web site until at least July 11, 2007.

Microsoft originally planned to end support for Windows 98 and ME in January 2004, but extended that to June 30, 2006, before announcing in January that final support would come on July 11 to allow for some last security patches.

Support may be ending for these once-popular operating systems this year, but an investigation by Computerworld indicates many enterprises have already upgraded to Windows 2000 and XP.

IP Australia's service centre manager Maria O'Ryan said Microsoft's decision to end support in July "doesn't concern me", because there is only one computer running Windows 98 remaining in the organization.

"It's being used as a test box to compare things until we upgrade as the client doesn't run on XP," O'Ryan said. "We probably won't run the Windows 98 box past the deadline as the upgrade is due [for completion] in two weeks."

At its peak, IP Australia had around 1000 Windows 98 desktops which were quickly upgraded to Windows XP over the space of "a few weekends".

"We never really contacted Microsoft, or used the support anyway," O'Ryan said, adding she doesn't think there are many Windows 98 installations left within the wider enterprise.

O'Ryan said IP Australia is "having a look" at Windows Vista, but could not reveal any upgrade plans.

Echoing O'Ryan's stance, an IT project manager at a utility company, who requested anonymity, said while there are only two Windows 98 machines left running logging software, the decision to end support is "not a big deal for us".

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 Vista, until January 2007.

Jupiter Media Analyst Joe Wilcox said that means customers still running Windows 98 or ME that must upgrade by July will most likely move to Windows XP, and forego upgrading to Vista upon its release in January.

This poses a concern for Microsoft, which "still is not getting people to upgrade as quickly as they would like", he said.

(With Elizabeth Montalbano.)

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