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13 Years Ago Today: Windows 98

I was reminded by a Windows team tweet that today is the 13th anniversary of Windows 98, Microsoft's first major (and very first retail) follow-up to Windows 95. Windows 98 was to Windows 95 as Windows 7 was to Windows Vista in that it simply built on the major changes wrought by its predecessor, offering a superior experience through evolutionary updates. And it was itself updated in rapid fashion by a second release, the oddly titled Windows 98 Second Edition, which arrived less than a year later.

As I noted in my review of Windows 98 at the time, Windows 98 was "the ultimate version of Windows ... the greatest operating system ever created." So I guessed I like it. :) Those comments should be taken in the context of the day, of course: Microsoft had already destroyed Apple's desktop OS chances with Windows 95, and Windows 98 simply raised the bar yet again with USB support, Internet Explorer integration with one-click file access, the first appearance of Windows Update, and multi-monitor support. For all we knew, Apple was being left in the dust. (Apple, of course, later changed the conversation by achieving great success with devices--iPods, iPhones, and then iPads--plus success with a "new" version of Mac OS based on NeXTStep called Mac OS X.)

Windows 98 desktop

When it shipped 13 years ago, we thought that Windows 98 was the end of the Windows 3.x/9x line, and thus of the versions of Windows that relied on some version of MS-DOS infrastructure. Windows NT 5.0, which became Windows 2000, was going to be the first version of Windows to utilize the NT kernel and the full feature set of Windows 9x. But when that proved too difficult to pull off, Microsoft retreated for one product cycle and released a final interim Windows 9x version called Windows Millennium Edition (Me); Windows XP finally combined the two product lines in 2000, putting the final nail in MS-DOS's coffin.

Related reviews:

Windows 95 Preview (1995)

Plus! for Windows 98 (1998)

Windows 98 Second Edition (1999)

Windows Millennium Edition (Me) (2000)

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