Microsoft support for Windows 98, ME to end in July

Circle July 11 on the calendar; after that, you're on your own

Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition (SE) and Windows Millennium Edition (ME) are nearing the end of their support from Microsoft Corp.

The software vendor will stop supporting these operating system editions on July 11, according to information on its Web site.

On that date, all public and technical support for the products will be suspended, and Microsoft also will stop security updates for the operating systems, the company said. However, online self-help support will be available on Microsoft's support Web site until at least July 11, 2007.

Microsoft says the operating systems are "outdated" and pose security risks to customers, which is why it is ending support for them, according to its Web site. Microsoft recommends that customers still running them upgrade to newer versions of Windows, such as Windows XP, as soon as possible.

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

Windows 98 and ME are less likely to be found in businesses than they are on home machines. According to a December 2005 JupiterResearch survey of nearly 2,300 PC customers, 16% were running Windows 98 or 98 SE in their homes, and 6% were running Windows ME.

Microsoft recently pushed back the consumer release of the next major update to Windows, Windows Vista, until January 2007. Jupitermedia analyst Joe Wilcox said that means customers still running Windows 98 or ME that must upgrade by July most likely will move to Windows XP and forgo 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.

Since Microsoft originally expected Vista would be released a lot sooner than it will be, it's possible that the company thought it would be available when it decided to end support for 98, 98 SE and ME in July, Wilcox added.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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