Scott Hanselman

Support for Windows 98 finally comes to a middle...

January 30, 2004 Comment on this post [4] Posted in Musings
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This may be slightly old news, but it's so [insert profound adjective here] that I wanted to comment on it. 

Remember how excited we were to here things like "Windows 2000 marks the end of crufty 16-bit code" and "Windows XP isn't saddled with the crufty architecture of Windows 9x."  Microsoft blinked, possibly with reason, but blinking none the less and Windows 98, 98SE and the red-headed stepchild of the Windows Platform, Windows ME, will be supported through Summer of 2006 with online self-help till the solstice of 2007.  Alas, support for Windows 98 is coming to a middle.

Although I'd like to see these Operating Systems go away, I figure the primary reason behind the decision is one of security, and I suspect when 2007 comes, we may STILL see security patches for 9x.  It's really about mindshare vs. marketshare.  With the obvious global shift in more aggressive viruses, spam, spyware and malware, a conneted Windows 9x box is a lamb amongst wolves.  Considering the there's an how-to manual called Windows XP: Surviving the First Day, I wonder how long a fresh Windows 9x Gold box would last on the open sea.  Probably about 15 minutes.  It would make sense for Microsoft to include a free firewall for Windows 98.

If Microsoft pulled the plug now with the likes of MyDoom, Klez and Melissa, the average Joe running 9x would feel screwed and revolt which would add even more fuel to Michael Robertson and Lindows.  So, I understand the basic premise behind extending support, but like Iraq, I see no exit strategy. 

What happens in 2006?  Do we all hope that folks will have a more compelling reason to get a newer faster machine?  Probably not.  I'm guessing I know the secret exit strategy, and it's an acronym.  MTBF.  Most cheap IDE harddrives last 5 years, with a MAX of 10, IMHO.  Drop support for the OS when every hard drive running it has crashed!

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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January 31, 2004 0:29
The problem is that most people do not have a need to update and never will at least until the computer fails (or harddrive) as you suggested. And moreover MS was too stupid to write it correctly the first time.
January 31, 2004 2:14
I’ve seen the future, its Windows 2000 running third party applications in 2020.
January 31, 2004 9:33
Web sites will refuse old browsers before 2006-7.

Yahoo mail refuses IE 3 (which many of these old boxes have).

Yes you can upgrade, but we're not talking here about people who upgrade.

Plus the old PC are too weak to be useful even for internet apps.

I had to run down to Best Buy to internet-enable my mother last weekend. Her old PC had IE3 and went CPU bound at every click (it seemed). So out with the 9x box, in with XP.

Viruses of the future will require more resources than the old boxes can handle. :-)
February 01, 2004 3:13
Scott- I think a beta of a XP SP2 like upgrades for win 2000 and 98 was announced a a month or so ago.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.