As reported Thursday, Service Pack 1 for Windows 98 is slated to go to limited beta testing before the end of this week, that's just one week after Microsoft officially unveiled the new operating system.
"Microsoft is beta testing a Service Pack for Win 98 less than one week after it was released to the public," read the beta invitation that Microsoft sent to a select group of Windows 98 beta testers earlier this week.
Microsoft has been working on SP1 for the past several months. The company is planning a short beta in order to be able to post the final version of SP1 on its new Windows Update Web site sometime this summer.
Microsoft is positioning SP1 as a multimedia enhancement pack that will include features that didn't make it into the final cut of Windows 98. For example, it includes a number of new graphics interfaces and support for a new WebTV programming guide and more PC-TV cards.
It also will include "lots and lots" of Windows 98 bug fixes as well, according to one developer close to Microsoft who claimed familiarity with SP1's contents. But Microsoft officials denied there would be many-or major-bug fixes in the service pack. "Windows 98 bug fixes will be in there only if we find any major ones," said Rob Bennett, Microsoft group product manager. Bennett said early data indicated there were no major problems with Windows 98 installations, except among users attempting to go from Windows 3.X directly to Windows 98. "That's a hard upgrade," he conceded.
But quite a few Windows 98 customers have found upgrading even from Windows 95 to the new operating system to be a chore. And a number of top PC makers, including Compaq, Dell , IBM and Toshiba are posting patches that they recommend users download before attempting to install Windows 98. Some, such as Dell, are warning users of certain model systems to hold off from upgrading until the company can do more testing and provide BIOS upgrades.
On its technical support Web site, Compaq informs customers having problems with Windows 98 that it expects Microsoft to "either release separate patches or configuration changes or incorporate many updates into a Service Pack, which was done with Windows 95."
In addition, Compaq said it would provide some initial Windows 98 fixes on its own. However, the Compaq site notes that "support for conflicts between 3rd party applications [not pre-installed] and Windows 98 purchased from Microsoft will be the sole responsibility of Microsoft."