WinInfo Exclusive: Windows 98 <I>is</I> dead. So what?

Reports circulated on the Web this week that Microsoft was reneging on its all-NT promise for the future. The reports, which were based on comments from unnamed sources, explained that a "Windows 2000 Consumer Edition" would be forthcoming, and that this product would be based on Windows 9x, not NT.

Well, Microsoft is indeed in the early planning stages of a new consumer OS. And yes, it will be called Windows 200x Consumer Edition (or similar, where "x" will be a year number). And, as Microsoft has always said, it will be based on Windows NT, not Windows 9x, just as the upcoming Windows 2000 is.

But here's the confusion: A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that the company is working on updates to Windows 98 and that these updates--Great Caesar's Ghost!--would eventually reach the hands of consumers.

Well, duh.

That's exactly what Microsoft did with Windows 95. After the original Windows 95 shipped in August 1995, Microsoft released numerous updates, include SR-1, OSR-1, OSR-2, OSR-2.1, OSR-2.5, and various Internet Explorer releases. These were shipped in a variety of ways, generally to hardware makers, because these new versions included updated hardware drivers that they would need.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has already confirmed that they're working on similar updates to Windows 98: In fact, the company is beta testing Windows 98 OSR-1 right now.

So here's the scoop: There isn't going to be any Windows 2000 Consumer Edition. There just isn't. Windows 2000 is for corporations. And yes, the Windows 98 line will "soon" be dead. But in the meantime, the product has another 2-3 years of active development ahead of it. There will be new features (IE 5.0, for example), bug fixes, and drivers for new hardware that hasn't even seen the light of day yet. It's got a nice life cycle that we're still in the early stages of.

But none of this is exactly "news," is it?


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