Windows 98 SE: uphill upgrade?

Windows 98 second edition, a micro-upgrade to Windows 98, includes a few new features and a swarm of bug fixes. But if you're contemplating a move to the new release, beware: Windows 98 Second Edition may be less reliable than Windows 98.

Microsoft's Knowledge Base lists more than a dozen mostly minor Windows 98 SE bugs (see http://www.microsoft.com/support).

The most widely reported problems seem related to power management activities such as booting up and shutting down, and may not be entirely Microsoft's fault. Power management glitches are often caused by problems in the third-party system BIOS software built into the motherboard. Some BIOSs apparently don't interact well with Windows 98 SE's power management software, which differs slightly from the original version in Windows 98. Microsoft is aware of specific shutdown problems and plans to post an update shortly.

After upgrading to Windows 98 SE, you may find that trying to shut down triggers a protection-fault error or reboot, and that the system won't wake up from suspend mode.

If your Pentium II or Pentium III system uses Intel's popular SE440BX-2 motherboard (ask the manufacturer if you don't know), you may be able to put an end to these errors by upgrading to the latest BIOS - version 14, as we went to press. Visit Intel's SE440BX-2 BIOS update Web page (http://developer.intel.com/design/motherbd/se2/se2_bios.htm) for the download, installation instructions, and release notes that describe the fixes the download contains.

Other reported problems are a by-product of Windows 98 Second Edition's installation routines:

If you use a Toshiba Portege 7020 laptop with a docking station, the system won't awake from hibernation mode after you install Windows 98 Second Edition.

Toshiba's solution is to restart the system in MS-DOS mode; enter the command halloc /r at the DOS prompt, and then the command halloc /c; and reboot. This sequence deletes and rebuilds a necessary configuration file created during installation.

Microsoft's Knowledge Base (http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/q231/6/72.asp) also reports that Windows 98 SE balks at a Toshiba power management driver installed on some systems, and suggests downloading an update from Toshiba first. To find out whether your system needs a driver or BIOS upgrade to be compatible with Windows 98 SE, start at Toshiba's support page (http://pcsupport.toshiba.com).

Denizens of a Windows 98 newsgroup report problems with Diamond's SupraMax modem. Apparently, upgrading to Win 98 SE installs an incorrect driver, even though a good driver is already installed. After the upgrade, the system reports frequent "dpal" errors. The solution is to reinstall the V.90 upgrade drivers, which are available at http://www.diamondmm.com/products/56k/max-v90-upgrade.html