Microsoft will release a third beta of Windows 98 on September 30 and still plans to ship the final release by April 1998 but the firm is already at pains to play down the hype over the operating system. Instead, it will present the OS as an "evolutionary" move akin to a point release.
"We don't want the snowball [hype] effect we had with Windows 95 where the demand just built up and up," said David Weeks, Windows 98 product manager at Microsoft, speaking at a London press conference this morning.
"We're trying to position it as an evolutionary release. It's not a major change to the UI or architecture. From 95 to 98 is a similar move to that between Windows 3.1 and 3.11. The early adopters will be influential users who want a faster, easier OS and corporates who are already evaluating cost-of-ownership."
Asked whether users wouldn't expect more of a product with the name 'Windows 98', Weeks said: "We did a lot of research with focus groups and asked people whether they wanted Windows 97, 98, or Windows 9... they wanted 98."
Weeks said that many corporates who feared the costs associated with supporting and training staff on the Active Desktop will revert to the orthodox user interface, making the transition even more seamless. "They'll go with the standard UI if they don't have an intranet. If they have an intranet they regularly access they will use IE 4.0 and the Active Desktop for browsing material."
As with previous OS releases, Microsoft will continue to offer Windows 95 even after the release of Windows 98. "As long as the demand is there we'll do it. On every occasion in the past a new operating system has meant sales of the old operating system have gone up."