When was Windows 98 released? Windows 98 is a consumer-oriented operating system developed by Microsoft as part of its Windows 9x family of Microsoft Windows operating systems. The second operating system in the 9x line, it is the successor to Windows 95, and was released to manufacturing on May 15, 1998, and generally to retail on June 25, 1998. Like its predecessor, it is a hybrid 16-bit and 32-bit monolithic product with the boot stage based on MS-DOS.
Windows 98 is a web-integrated operating system that bears numerous similarities to its predecessor. Most of its improvements were cosmetic or designed to improve the user experience, but there were also a handful of features introduced to enhance system functionality and capabilities, including improved USB support and accessibility, as well as support for hardware advancements such as DVD players. Windows 98 was the first edition of Windows to adopt the Windows Driver Model, and introduced features that would become standard in future generations of Windows, such as Disk Cleanup, Windows Update, multi-monitor support, and Internet Connection Sharing.
When was Windows 98 released?
Microsoft finally announced what the world has known for over a month now: Windows 98 will be available in stores on June 25th for a suggested retail price of $109 ($209 for the full version). Most stores will likely sell the new operating system for $89, the same price as Windows 95. Windows 98, currently in the “release candidate” stage, is feature-complete and Microsoft is racing to squash last minute bugs before the product is released to manufacturing. Sometime in mid-May, Microsoft will supply the code for Windows 98 to hardware manufacturers so that they can start building systems that include the new software.
“The product is a better Windows 95,” said Windows Product Manager Rob Bennett, though he also mentioned that the roll-out for Windows 98 will be far less flashy than the Windows 95 launch. Bennett said the company would even rely of “word of mouth” to sell Windows 98.
Recently, at a Microsoft pre-launch show for Windows 98 called “Microsoft eXtreme”, 40,000 attendees were asked whether they would upgrade to Windows 98: 95% said they would.
“Windows 98 is catching fire among the PC enthusiasts,” said Yusuf Mehdi, director of marketing, personal business systems group at Microsoft. “The beauty of Windows 98 is that it runs applications faster and easier than Windows 95, while unlocking a whole new range of hardware devices and entertainment capabilities for consumers.”
Currently, there are over 150,000 people worldwide running beta builds of Windows 98. A survey by Windows Magazine found that 62% of Windows users planned to upgrade to Windows 98 in the first 6 months it is available, while 87% said they would do so in the first year. The reason? Windows 98 offers increased functionality and superior performance when compared to Windows 95.
Gates: Sales stronger than expected
In an interview with CNNfn Thursday, Gates said early results indicate sales of Windows 98 upgrades have been stronger than expected.
“Windows 98 is a pretty common sense update,” he said. “It doesn’t change things in a difficult fashion like Windows 95 did so you can install it in less than 30 minutes. We’re quite optimistic about this, the early results are much stronger than we expected, the word of mouth is very strong, and in terms of numbers, all the new PCs will be coming with Windows ’98 as well.”
Gates declined to divulge Microsoft’s sales targets for Windows 98 but he said the PC market is expected to grow 15 percent this year and that Windows 98 will be on virtually all those machines.
“Windows 98 has gotten really strong reviews from most people. You’re never going to get perfect reviews, but people have seen the speed, [Internet] integration, reliability and hardware support and said it makes a lot of sense,” he said.
Gates said more than 150,000 people tested Windows 98 and that Microsoft wouldn’t have released the operating system this week if those testers had reported major problems and if it wasn’t confident it would perform correctly.
Windows 98 launch low key
Although Microsoft is touting the added features of the new product, the Windows 98 launch was low-key compared with the Windows 95 debut, which featured celebrities such as Jay Leno and constant television commercials that used the Rolling Stones song “Start Me Up” as their anthem.
Where Windows 95 brought many new features Windows 3.1 didn’t have, Windows 98 is largely a collection of bug fixes combined with additional support for new devices that have come on the market since Windows 95. The $90 Windows 98 upgrade allows users with television tuner cards to watch TV while using their PCs and even browse customized program guides.
It also offers enhanced Internet functions, making it easier to set up an Internet connection for the first time. Internet Explorer can also be used to browse the contents of the computer’s hard drive in addition to browsing the Web.
Windows 98 is 20 years old today: but is it an OS worth celebrating?
Twenty years ago today, Windows 98 was unleashed onto the world. At the time, Microsoft was a very different company, with Bill Gates still CEO – he didn’t hand over the reins to Steve Ballmer until the year 2000 rolled around (although he did make the bombastic Ballmer president of Microsoft in 1998, just a month after the fresh OS was released).
Windows 98 launched accompanied by much fanfare on June 25, 1998, becoming available in over 40 countries across the globe, and going on sale in more than 12,000 retail outlets in the US.
This was the much-awaited follow-up to Windows 95, which had been released three years previously and had made some huge changes to usher in the era of the contemporary Windows desktop OS. These changes included going 32-bit, booting from scratch (as opposed to being ‘manually’ fired up from DOS), and bringing in the familiar user interface which featured the Start menu and taskbar.
So, back in the day, Windows 98 had a lot to live up to. And by its very nature this OS was more about refining and honing Windows 95, rather than making massive changes to Microsoft’s desktop platform.
That said, there are definitely areas where Windows 98 made a positive impact, and in honor of its 20th birthday we’re going to look back at those highlights – as well as its shakier points – and weigh up whether or not this operating system’s anniversary is truly a cause for celebration.
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