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Win98 launched with a whimper not a bang

Win98 limped onto the shelves of computer stores last night in a deliberately low-key launch.

The first copies went on sale in Australia where, because of the time difference, Sydney was the first city to start selling Win98. Daniel Chan snapped up the first copy, which was signed by Billl Gates. Many UK stores -- including Dixons and Byte -- also remained open last night but ZDNET spotted no large queues gathering in Oxford Street.

But in a demonstration of Microsoft strength, even a low-key launch from the software giant can have significant impact. Dataquest estimates that 58% of all PC shipments this year will be running Windows98.

Large corporations are thought unlikely to upgrade to win98, as Microsoft has been working hard to persuade them to wait for the industrial strength NT 5.0.

A full reviewof Windows 98, a point-by-point comparison with NT 5.0, and ninety eight downloadable Win98-ready applications are all live now on ZDNET.