Microsoft support for Windows 98, ME to end in July

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 OS editions on July 11, according to information on its Web site. (http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifean18)

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

Microsoft considers these OSes "outdated" and therefore they pose security risks to customers, which is why the company is ending support for them, according to its Web site. Microsoft recommends customers still running these OSes 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, before announcing 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 Jupiter Research survey of nearly 2,300 PC customers, 16 percent were running Windows 98 or 98 SE in their homes, and 6 percent were running Windows ME.

Microsoft recently pushed back the consumer release of the next major update to Windows, Windows Vista, until January 2007. Jupiter Media 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 forego 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 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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