Microsoft recently announced in the US that its latest operating system upgrade, Windows 98 Second Edition, is complete and has been sent to manufacturing plants. Local Microsoft people said the product would be with OEM manufacturers and retail outlets "by the end of June".
As well as patching holes in the original version, Windows 98 Second Edition provides enhancements in the area of Internet, networking, and hardware technologies, according to Microsoft.
It will be pre-installed in new PCs, replace Win98 on retail shelves and will be available to existing Win98 users through an update CD-ROM available for order through the Microsoft Web site (www.microsoft.com.au) or by phone on 13 2058.
The update includes Internet Explorer 5, Windows NetMeeting 3, Internet Connection Sharing, and enhanced hardware support including Universal Serial Bus.
A Windows 98 Service Pack, including year 2000 updates, will also be available as a free download from the Microsoft Web site, although the company did not say when that update would be in place. To obtain the new features, punters will have to get a CD which Microsoft's local Win98 product marketing manager, Tony Wilkinson, said would be available in "late June" for "about $13.95" which covers postage and handling.
The estimated retail price of Win98 Second Edition in Australia has been set at $169. Wilkinson said a national promotion kicks off towards the end of June although there should be some stocks available before then.
Wilkinson said that although Win98 Second Edition will not create nearly the rush that its predecessor did, it is still a good boost for retailers. Selling the update through retail is a new strategy for Microsoft. In the past such incremental updates were only available on new systems.
"In the months leading up to a new launch, there are always people who hold off their purchases, so there will be strong demand for the upgrade when it becomes available," Wilkinson said.
"It will create an increase in the run rate that Windows 98 has been accruing in retail outlets over the last few months.
"Win98 Second Edition is basically introducing all the work we have done on Windows 98 since we originally launched it. The Internet Connection Sharing feature will be popular with people who have more than one PC in the house," Wilkinson said.