MS extends support for Windows 98 and Windows Me

Despite firmly stating it would end support for its Windows 98 and Windows 98 Second Edition (SE) platforms as of Jan. 16, 2004 and Windows Millenium Edition (Me) as of Dec. 31, 2004, Microsoft Corp. announced Monday it will extend the support of these operating systems until June 2006 in order to bring Windows 98 SE into compliance with its current product support lifecycle policy.

In October 2002, Microsoft changed its lifecycle policy, essentially lengthening the amount of time it was supporting for products. The company offers mainstream support for five years after general availability, which includes unlimited free set-up support and two free incidents of support beyond that. After the five years customers are given extended support, which lasts for two years beyond mainstream support and includes paid phone support (a charge of $35 per incident) and provides for security updates, patches and fixes.

This may spell good news for Microsoft customers, many of which continue to use the Windows 98 OS. According to a December study by AssetMetrix, an Ottawa-based IT asset analysis tool maker, more than 80 per cent of the 670 businesses surveyed had at least one PC running either Windows 98 or the now-ancient Windows 95 platform.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company apparently noticed this trend. According to Microsoft, the decision to extend support was in part in order to accommodate worldwide users still dependent on the OSes. The extension also gives customers a clear date of support conclusion, and gives customers extra time to retire the platforms and upgrade to newer systems, Microsoft said.

“It has been under discussion internally as we were getting feedback from customers,” explained Elliot Katz, senior product manager for Microsoft Windows with Microsoft Canada in Mississauga, Ont. “It just became clear to us from that feedback — and we do want to do right by the customer — that it was really important for us to extend the support on a worldwide basis.”

Katz noted however, that despite the increased extended support for Windows 98/98 SE and Windows Me, customers should be looking at retiring these systems soon.

“We certainly understand that Windows 98 is still being used in the marketplace and that is one of the driving factors to extend support,” he said. “In terms of our efforts to get cusotmers to go to Windows XP…we feel (XP) provides them with the most secure environment…the most functionality and the most benefit you would get out of an operating system. That is what we are working with our customers to understand.”

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