Windows 98

Aug 31, 2009

Windows 98, code named Memphis, was a graphical operating system released on the 25th of June, 1998 and it was the last version of Windows based on the MS-DOS kernel, being a hybrid 16 bit/32 bit monolithic product based on MS-DOS. It was succeeded by Windows Me on the 14th of September, 2000. Windows 98 was commonly recommended over its successor, Windows Me, due to higher stability. It had Microsoft's Internet browser built in, the IE 4, and supported new input devices like USB.

The SE, or Windows 98 Second Edition, was an update release of Windows 98, launched in 1999. It included fixes for many minor issues, improved USB support and the replacement of IE 4 with the faster and lighter IE 5. It also included Internet Connection Sharing, which enabled multiple users on a Local Area Network to share a single Internet connection through Network Address Translation. Other new features in the update version included Microsoft NetMeeting 3.0 and integrated support for DVD-ROM drives. A memory overflow issue was resolved which in the older version of Windows 98 would crash most systems if left running for 48 hours.

Windows 98 was the first operating system to use the Windows Driver Model and because this fact was not well advertised when they released Windows 98, most hardware producers continued to develop drivers for the older driver format, VxD. This had the effect of misunderstanding that Windows 98 could only use VxD drivers. The WDM standard spread years later, through Windows 2000 and XP, due to the fact that these OSs were not compatible with older VxD formats. Nowadays, even if hardware producers wouldn't be developing drivers optimized for Windows 98, the drivers written to WDM formats will be compatible with Windows 98-based systems.

The release of Windows 98 started with a notable press demonstration at Comdex in April 1998. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates was just highlighting the operating system's ease of use and enhanced support for Plug and Play, when program manager, Chris Capossela, plugged a scanner in, in order to install it and the operating system crashed in front of the audition, displaying a Blue Screen of Death. Gates remarked after applause and cheering from the audience "That must be why we're not shipping Windows 98 yet".

Microsoft planned to discontinue the support for Windows 98 in January the 16th, 2004. However, because of the increased popularity of the operating system, 27% of Google pageviews were on Windows 98 systems during October-November 2003, they decided to extend the maintenance support until July the 11th, 2006. Support for Windows Me also ended on this date.

Next articles in this series:

1. The beginnings
2. First steps in operating systems
3. Windows 1.0
4. Windows 2.0
5. Windows 3.0
6. Windows 95
7. Windows 98
8. Windows Me
9. Windows 2000
10. Windows XP
11. Windows Vista
12. Windows 7
13. Windows 8