Win 98 final beta testers to pay for pleasure

In a twist on recent policy, Microsoft has begun charging individual users to beta test Windows 98.

The giant will charge hand-picked users $30 each plus a delivery charge to use the software which is at beta 3 stage, usually a sign that the 'code complete' stage is not too far in the distance. However, Microsoft warns that only users with technical know-how should install the software. On February 16, the code will be available to all users at the same price.

The advent of wide-scale Internet usage has made much pre-release - and even full product - software a freebie but the paid-for trick is not new - Microsoft did the same thing with Windows 95.