R.I.P., Windows 98

R.I.P., Windows 98

Summary: As of yesterday, Microsoft officially retired public and technical support for Windows 98, Windows Me, and Windows XP Service Pack 1. Good.

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TOPICS: Windows
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As of yesterday, Microsoft officially retired public and technical support for Windows 98, Windows Me, and Windows XP Service Pack 1.

Good.

The entire Windows 9x line was fine in its time, but its time has passed. Its basic architecture, with little tiny memory heaps for handling system resources, means that every member of the Windows 9X family is inherently unstable. And although its insecurities could probably be repaired, the cost of doing so would be to break many applications.

It’s ironic that Microsoft in those heady pre-Y2K days was on a fairly consistent annual upgrade cycle for Windows. Windows 98 in 1998, Windows 98 Second Edition in 1999, the forgettable Windows Me in 2000. Each one was a paid upgrade (although some features from Windows 98 Second Edition were available on CD). On the other hand, if you bought Windows XP in 2001, you’ve received one major update and a gazillion tiny ones for free.

To celebrate the demise of Windows 9x, Brian Krebs of the Washington Post put together a list of “security tools that still play nice” with those outdated Windows versions. It’s a good piece of work for those who absolutely insist on continuing to use an unsupported OS. Personally, I think all the vigilance that strategy requires is a waste of energy. If you have a 1998-vintage (or later) CPU and at least 256MB of RAM, you can run Windows XP with acceptable performance. Windows 2000 uses even fewer resources, doesn't require product activation, and provides a level of stability and security that is infinitely better than anything in the 9x family. If even Windows 2000 won’t run, it’s time to retire that hardware.

Buh-bye, Windows 98. We really won't miss you. 

Topic: Windows

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  • Wasteful thinking

    If that window 98 machine still works fine, why fix what isn't broken. Nobody bothers writing worms for windows 98 anymore and the masses have ignored the security updates for years. Why stop using it now that is has been officially retired. ME was un-officially retired a year after it was released.
    zmud
    • wrong assumptions

      I agree with zmud. I would add, also, that in business, for many, many processes and jobs, an old machine running windows 98 still does the job with more power than needed at very little cost. Many machines and products are monitored and tested with old computers since the processing needs of such machines are modest. Legacy applications are also used that are difficult or impossible to set up to run on newer OS's.

      As far as security is concerned, who writes viruses for Windows 98 anyway? I believe it's under the radar and doesnt need the security since no computer of such vintage would be outside a corporate firewall anyway and even more so would never have sensitive information on it.
      Insight Driver
    • Actually...

      About half of the worms on the latest threat lists are capable of attacking Windows 98. Just look at the list <a href="http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=890830">here</a>.
      Ed Bott
      • You are correct about the worms

        I clicked on the first 10 (from early 2005) and windows 98 was not affected. I jump to the most recent worms and the end of the list (from June 2006) and 98 and ME are affected. It looks like there is renewed interest in attacking windows 98.
        I was unaware of these new worms because 90 percent of the infections i've seen lately are from spyware which is mostly avoidable with alternative browsers and decent security programs.
        zmud
  • DOS-based games

    I'll miss some of the games that worked well on 98. The XP DOS emulator, or whatever it's called, doesn't work worth a flip.

    http://opendomain.blogspot.com/
    opensourcepro
    • Most of those don't require internet

      so why not keep a 10-20 GB partition for those games and unplug yourself from the internet while you boot into Win98? I do that myself, although it's been about 2 years since I've actually fired it up, so it could be fried for all I know.
      Michael Kelly
    • Why not use a virtual machine? (nt)

      ..
      Letophoro
      • Lousy virtual video

        Can't play games very well in a virtual machine because there's no harwdare acceleration for the video, so the experience is awful.
        Ed Bott
        • I wonder

          While I must admit to not trying it out, I have a very hard time believing that old DOS games would have performance issues in a virtual PC. Almost none of them were accelerated anyway.

          Hehe, this discussion does take me back a few years when I installed an Apple emulator and played Tai Pan for the first time in 20 years. [i]You leave my opium cargo alone!![/i]
          NonZealot
    • Hmmmmm

      Why not put DOS onto a CDROM, with the autoexec.bat file and your drivers? Boot it up to open a RAMDRIVE, then play your DOS game. You would need a FAT32 (assuming you are using DOS 6.x) drive partition to save game files etc. to - but it wouldn't need to be your C: drive due to the virtual RAMDRIVE. And DOS 6.x is available on your W98 setup disk...
      quietLee
    • People still use the DOS emulator to play games?!

      There are some reasons to use 98, but to play DOS games is probably not one of them:
      DOSBOX is available, is cross-platform, and plays 95%+ of the games perfectly.

      It does take some hardware to get some games running at good speeds, but at least if you upgrade, you know that you can play all your DOS games on your new box.
      Steve Z
  • Thank god they stopped this software.

    Win 98 the software from hell where it would not shut down and too many memory leaks to cause a lovely blue screen. If anyone is still using this P.O.S. then they deserve to get all the blue screens that pop up and the non-shutting down of system that used to hang. Yes I have moved on to Win XP its ok and I tried the Beta of Vista, but I see SUSE Linux in my future. No spend hundred's of dollars for a Microsoft product that should not of been released and too many updates and holes in the product. I've know people who still used this product and they say it works great still and that the blue screens and lock up when shutting down were nothing to them. If you use it then you deserve what you get. SO long Win98!
    rupaa62
    • Not the majority

      of people expeience what you write, but the minority. Windows 98 had its share of problems but as an OS loaded on typical hardware, it runs fine. With 256mb, it?s great. For business, it?s even better as most don?t need more than word processing, maybe some excel, and an occasional trip to the internet.

      Problem may be with some software that is strictly XP. There are tons of programs that are more than stable with Windows 98. As a tech, I would still support it. As long as there are drivers available, it will continue to be an option.

      Sometimes upgrading is not an option for many. With VISTA coming out, it will require a huge price tag in terms of hardware. Those who claim it?s great obviously aren?t true beta testers. I loaded VISTA on a 2.5gig 1024Ram, and a 160gig HD, DELL Poweredge SC server with dual processors. It ran slower than XP at the default install. Most of the drivers were unsupported at the time. Most programs refused to load. In terms of features, many were removed in hopes of stabilizing the OS enough for launch date. I don?t doubt that the VISTA won?t be nice, but for a company that has no clue about programming or security to try and build an OS from scratch, isn?t worth my time to further beta test it past launch date. Besides, after running VISTA, I can?t help noticing how very similar it is to Linux in terms of it?s new security engine.
      mypl8s4u2
      • WHAAA???

        [b]Sometimes upgrading is not an option for many. With VISTA coming out, it will require a huge price tag in terms of hardware. Those who claim it?s great obviously aren?t true beta testers. I loaded VISTA on a 2.5gig 1024Ram, and a 160gig HD, DELL Poweredge SC server with dual processors. It ran slower than XP at the default install. Most of the drivers were unsupported at the time. Most programs refused to load. In terms of features, many were removed in hopes of stabilizing the OS enough for launch date. I don?t doubt that the VISTA won?t be nice, but for a company that has no clue about programming or security to try and build an OS from scratch, isn?t worth my time to further beta test it past launch date. Besides, after running VISTA, I can?t help noticing how very similar it is to Linux in terms of it?s new security engine.[/b]

        1.) HUGE price tag?? Define HUGE... Sheesh. Back in January, I built a computer with an Athlon64 3400+ 1 GB RAM, 200 GB HDD, DVD ROM on board and the whole ball of wax, including case, and a killer set of Altec Lansing speakers only set me back about $400. That's from scratch. Upgrades should only take a fraction of that. I don't know... Maybe it's a question of perspective. I'd consider a few thousand dollars a "HUGE" price tag.

        2.) As far as performance goes... First off, it's a BETA. Betas tend to run slower with all the debug code embedded in them. Stuff that gets weeded out once they start putting out Release Candidates.

        But... Surprisingly, Vista runs fairly well for a beta on the above mentioned box. Boot times are about 30 - 45 seconds longer than with XP. But once it's up and running, it's just as snappy as if I was running XP on the same machine.

        3.) As far as hardware drivers are concerned, I would guess that availability largely depends on the hardware you install it on. The above mentioned computer had only one driver not get installed from the Vista DVD - that was the SM Bus driver. That driver, btw, was installed the same day when I visited Windows Update the first time.

        In fact, the only driver I've since replaced was the video. Nvidia has a better driver available for the beta than the ones from Microsoft. The Nvidia drivers cured a lot of the flashing and other annoying glitches from the old driver.

        3.) Programs... Once again, this is a matter of perspective. Most of the programs I tend to use frequently run or can be made to run with a couple of extra clicks - namely a right-click on the shortcut and a click on Run as Administrator. Some programs do not behave quite as expected. My printer doesn't seem to like some of the managment tools when run from Vista.

        But for cripes sake - it's still a BETA!

        4.) While Vista is NOT Windows XP SP3, it's NOT a complete rewrite from scratch either. Vista is built on the NT platform. And given the build numbers, it's mostly obvious that Vista's programmers have been building Vista on XP's framework.
        Wolfie2K3
  • I bypassed Windows 98/ME completely

    I never actually had a Windows 98/ME system as a main workstation. I went to Windows NT4 to 2000 to XP. I had testbed systems that ran both 98 and ME but both operating systems were horribly unstable in comparison. The only advantage was the better support for software and hardware, at least until Windows 2000 came along.
    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
    • Still Use Win98 a lot

      Actually I still use Windows 98 a lot along with Windows 2000.

      The stability issues you mention I found out were related to cheap hardware and crummy hardware drivers that did not play well with the OS. Like any computer if you picked your own hardware and knew what you were doing when you built the computer, stability was not a major factor unless you insist on installing poorly written software. That applies to Windows XP and beyond.
      X41
  • My problem with Windows 95/98...

    Was that it defined the term "Windows Rot".

    Indeed these OS's started to decay the second after installation was complete. The more you used them, the more they decayed, until one day you broke out the CD to start over again.

    I don't mention WindowsME because WinME was not an operating system. It was an abomination. A freak of Nature. It was spawned from Hell.
    BitTwiddler
    • WindowsME

      "don't mention WindowsME because WinME was not an operating system. It was an abomination. A freak of Nature. It was spawned from Hell."

      I agree 100%. It was like runing windows95 with a Win2000 GUI. Nothing was was it seemed. We had picked up a Gateway that had it, and after about 2 weeks, we reformatted it and put Win98 on it.
      John Zern
    • What is alarming

      Is that when ME came out, M$ refused to support it months after release date. The OS was just pure junk. Funny how M$ didn?t recall the product but did offer free upgrades to Windows 2000. I would have like to receive my money back for that program. M$ got ill gained money from that fiasco. Windows 98 was a better OS. True, you couldn?t keep it on long. It would require reboot about once a month if left on all the time. It would bog down and freeze without the reboot. I think it was due to all the temp files which, to this day, is still an M$ only problem. Even VISTA suffers from this bloating.
      mypl8s4u2
      • What's worse

        What's worse is Windows XP Home is just as bad,and Windows XP Pro is not a lot better. Our Client constantly complains about their laptop performance with Windows XP Professional loaded on them. Takes forever to boot. Programs refuse to launch and the machines lock up. These are not just isolated instances either. They may be unhappy but the microsoft monopoly has them firmly locked in.
        X41