Windows 98 SE — the phantom upgrade

Microsoft tiptoes out with a new "Second Edition" of its operating system.

Topics: Microsoft,

When Microsoft unveils a new operating system, it is usually with a fanfare of Babylonian proportions. But the new version of Windows 98 — Windows 98 SE, or “Second Edition” — is slinking in with an eerie quiet.

Perhaps that’s because this version of Windows wasn’t supposed to exist at all. Microsoft had originally suggested in 1997 that Windows 98 would be the end of the line for the vast but dilapidated House that DOS Built. Then, Microsoft’s consumer and business customers would both be herded toward the new Windows NT 5.0, which was originally supposed to ship in 1998 but was delayed and renamed Windows 2000. Then the release of Windows 2000 itself was delayed, and Microsoft decided that there actually will be a “consumer edition” of Windows 2000 as a continuation of the Windows 95-98 line, after all.

If you got all that straight, now Microsoft has Windows 98 SE for you. The main features of this “upgrade” are better Universal Serial Bus support, support for modem sharing, and the latest editions of the Internet Explorer browser and other free Microsoft products. Plus the usual assortment of bug fixes.



Windows 98 SE, in other words, is what Microsoft used to call a “service pack” and give away free. (Except when it didn’t — as with the “OSR2″ release of Windows 95, which contained upgrades you could obtain if you bought a new computer or were a computer reseller, but not if you just wanted to upgrade your own computer.) Of course, Microsoft will still give you a bug fix service pack for free; but if you want the full Win 98 SE upgrade package, including Internet Explorer 5.0, Net Meeting and Media Player 6.1 — all of which are available for free separately — you can pay $19.95.

At this point in its operating-system history, Microsoft has created a labyrinth that rivals Apple at its mid-1990s worst — when Macintosh users had to figure out what the hell “System 7.5.3 rev. 2″ meant. Maybe Windows 2000 will straighten all this out. Just don’t hold your breath.

Salon co-founder Scott Rosenberg is director of MediaBugs.org. He is the author of "Say Everything" and Dreaming in Code and blogs at Wordyard.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>