Microsoft to end support for Windows 95/98.
November 20, 2001 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Microsoft to end support for Windows 95/98. Apparently buried in the news releases of Windows XP, Microsoft says it will no longer support some of the older OSs by June of next year, along with a number of other products. While this may sound like a good idea at first, could this be another thing that goes horribly wrong? (more inside...)
posted by PeteyStock (29 comments total)
First off, apologies if this got double-posted, proxy server is acting screwy again.

Cynical me thinks that this WILL go horribly wrong - I mean, how many consumers out there still have 95 or 98 on their computers? Granted, 95/98 are, by comparison with what's on the market now, much less stable than 2000 and XP - as I am finding out myself with a SCSI CD burner in my office hooked to a Win98 system. However, the only reason it's hooked to that system is that the Adaptec SCSI card will only work on 98!

Personally I think that there's going to be a lot of consumer backlash against M$ if this becomes much more widely known. After all, you've invested a lot of cash in software, hardware, etc. that just may not run on 2000/XP, and why be forced to upgrade everything yet again?

Just my thoughts, would like to hear what the rest of MeFi thinks...
posted by PeteyStock at 8:38 AM on November 20, 2001

I "still" have Windows 98 on my home pc and am not tempted by 2000 or XP. It ain't broke, so why "fix" it? Doggone. Isn't Bill Gates rich enough already?
posted by Carol Anne at 8:44 AM on November 20, 2001

I would agree, however I think Win95 deserves to be dropped, and, according to their chart, Win98 isn't going to be dropped until June 30, 2003.

Win98 is about to enter MS's "extended phase" which means that:

ELicenses may no longer be available to consumers.

EIn addition to online support information, paid incident support will be available.

posted by o2b at 8:47 AM on November 20, 2001

Well, I'm still frosted by the fact I have a year and a half old computer running Win98 SE that I can't upgrade to Windows XP. Newest operating system=new computer. Funny how that works. Fuckers.
posted by mrbula at 8:48 AM on November 20, 2001

it's interesting to note that they are only just now eliminating support for MS-DOS and Win 3.x.

Online support will still be available for all products.
posted by o2b at 8:49 AM on November 20, 2001

Sorry I don't have any links to back this up, but I work in software development for Windows platforms and do recall hearing way before the XP release that the W'95 line would be phased out very soon after the merger of the two lines. So it's not as sudden or arbitrary as it may seem.
posted by holycola at 8:54 AM on November 20, 2001

My question is this - is this for consumers only, or will my massive federal government employer be forced to upgrade the desktops of all their employees as well? The standard desktop here is 95B, patched locally for the Y2K thing. Those of us developers with Win2K get yelled at every so often for not having "standard" desktops and get told that we are thusly not entitled to their weak-assed "tech-support."

(Guess which answer I am hoping for)
posted by Irontom at 9:00 AM on November 20, 2001

I coulda sworn this was one of the underhanded marketing tactics that the DoJ specifically cited M$ for -- forced upgrading by abandoning support prematurely. Oh, wait. That was before the case was bastardized by Shrub and Asscroft. Nevermind.
posted by RavinDave at 9:10 AM on November 20, 2001

Consider this, There are plenty of auto parts companies that make money selling replacement parts for the last 100 years of cars (maybe not that far back but alt least the last 50). Microsoft would be smart to sell off the win9x codebase to their equvalent of a Mexican auto parts factory. Some company who can update and support win98 at a price for those that don't want to upgrade their equipment. After a while it would be like have a corporate fleet of rebuilt '76 Novas, so expesive to maintain that upgrading is the better option. It would still give people the option of support though.

On the other hand, maybe they are goingto pull support, wait for the out-cry, and offer a "support subscription" for older OS's.
posted by Dillenger69 at 9:11 AM on November 20, 2001

They were supporting Apple II products (Decathlon -- anyone else squidge their arrow keys on the sprints?) until July 1999?
posted by mcwetboy at 9:12 AM on November 20, 2001

Not too long ago, Windows95 was the most common OS on the market. Now I assume 98 is, and 95 still has a large chunk of the market.

Anyone have a chart detailing OS usage? That'd be interesting to see.
posted by jragon at 9:12 AM on November 20, 2001

OSes on usage logs:

Win98 is sitting at 98%. Bear in mind that these are only computers that browse the web.
posted by o2b at 9:25 AM on November 20, 2001


not 98%: 69%
posted by o2b at 9:26 AM on November 20, 2001

What are you complaining about? If you purchased your computer with Windows installed, MS doesn't support it anyway. That's right. If your product code includes the letters OEM, then you don't get MS support. Try it - call an MS support number, and they'll ask you for your product code. As soon as they hear "OEM," they'll tell you to call Dell or Compaq or whoever the OEM is. If you want MS to give you "support," you'll pay extra.

This is a complete non-issue:
1. You don't have MS support now (see above)
2. Even if you did have support, MS will tell you that your problem is with you or your computer, not with MS. They won't say, "oh, that's our fault," or "yep, we have a bug." Do you really expect MS to fix a defect in their software for YOU?
3. MS has never, ever, ever had anything like product liability. Read the EULA. They have absolutely zero product liability exposure.

As an earlier poster pointed out, the online information will still be there, as will user groups. You'll still be able to buy Win 98 on e-bay and elsewhere.
posted by yesster at 9:27 AM on November 20, 2001

Well, there's this chart from

Though it only reflects their user base, their stats indicate that as of this month 69% of visitors to sites using their counter are running Windows 98. Only 6% for Win95.
posted by nstop at 9:29 AM on November 20, 2001

Aw, o2b beat me to it...
posted by nstop at 9:30 AM on November 20, 2001

There's an awful huge chunk of Windows 3.x users still out there, believe it or not. A lot of those computers are work computers that "do-the-job" well enough and don't need a fancier GUI. As some of us may remember, the big deal about W95 was that you could use it without ever (almost) going into DOS. So... if DOS was still in use up to 1995, it doesn't seem like "high time" to discontinue support for it. I mean, I know it was *years* ago and everything, but we're talking mid to late 90s, here! Clinton was president 3 years before W95... It ain't such a relic. I'm appalled not that M$ wants to discontinue support for older products, that's fair. But 4 years is not long enough. If that's how often they expect the whole world to upgrade, fuck them.
posted by scarabic at 9:32 AM on November 20, 2001

I've been a MCSE for Microsoft for years. Upgraded to 2000 MCSE. Involved in upgrading networks to 2000 on a daily basis. I think there are a lot of good thing about their products (I know I'm setting meself up to be slammed there...) HOWEVER, personally, I'm still on 98 at home because it's safe and I know all my cards and drivers work. It aint broke, so I don't fix it. 2000 and now XP products to deal with.

I KINDOF understand 95 support going away, since that product is almost 7 years old, but 98, that's stupid. The majority of companies still run NT 4.0 & 98 clients. When do they plan on phasing out NT 4.0?

That company has balls of steel.
posted by aacheson at 9:36 AM on November 20, 2001

Microsoft would be smart to sell off the win9x codebase

A discussion with one of the guys I work with led to this idea: if Win 9x is a technological dead-end, why not just open-source it, a-la the Linux model? Maybe this idea is completely off-base, but I would argue that M$ can build some good-will with the not-insignificant user base that wants to stick with 98, because it works well for them and they don't want to upgrade to XP.

Knowing Gates & Co., they'd shy away from this like a vampire avoiding the sun, but a provocative thought nonetheless.
posted by PeteyStock at 9:59 AM on November 20, 2001

I've noticed that a lot of site statistic pages lump windows ME and 98 together when gathering OS statistics. Notice that there's no ME statistic on the list (and I'm sure there are more ME machines than amiga machines on the web). So the numbers for 98 aren't quite as high as you might think.
posted by jnthnjng at 10:23 AM on November 20, 2001

I'm curious: what's the consensus on how long an OS manufacturer should keep updating and supporting older versions of the OS.

Microsoft isn't alone in discontinuing support for its older OSs. This is a quote from Apple's "Older Software Down loads" page:

The following list of Software Downloads is for English North-American versions of Software for Macintosh, Apple II and Newton released prior to Mac OS 8.1 in January 1998. All software listed here is considered obsolete and may do harm if improperly installed. Please use extreme caution. All software released since January, 1998 is available in the AppleCare Knowledge Base (needs Apple ID), although there may be some duplicates listed here.

The information in this document, created and published on 17-July-2001, will not be updated with new content, nor will it be maintained (removing links to software no longer available).

How do Sun and other manufacturers deal with this issue?
posted by eptitude at 10:36 AM on November 20, 2001

Yeah, I can read my logs for my site to get a rough estimate of different systems on the web. That's easy.

But I'm really curious about some estimates for total computers in use, regardless of their online status.

If someone doesn't see a need to upgrade from 95->98, they probably won't make it on the net either.
posted by jragon at 10:41 AM on November 20, 2001

if Win 9x is a technological dead-end, why not just open-source it, a-la the Linux model? Maybe this idea is completely off-base, but I would argue that M$ can build some good-will with the not-insignificant user base that wants to stick with 98, because it works well for them and they don't want to upgrade to XP.

Yeah, right, they're going to give away the source code that would allow the open-source community to create a 100% compatible Win32 layer to run on top of Linux. And monkeys might fly out of my butt.
posted by kindall at 10:53 AM on November 20, 2001

It ain't broke, so why "fix" it?

Win98 was "broke" right out of the box. IMO, it's the worst of all the Windows.
posted by jpoulos at 10:56 AM on November 20, 2001

Aside from security patches, what kind of support are we concerned about? Have you or your company ever called and paid M$ for support? No. Big whoop.
posted by fleener at 11:19 AM on November 20, 2001

fleener: actually i have. my winnt got totally hosed for no apparent reason. after fiddling with it for a day or two, my boss decided to let me call ms support.

3 engineers later, and what seems like at least 100 reboots, ms refunded my money and told me to reinstall.
posted by lescour at 11:42 AM on November 20, 2001

Who deserves lifetime support for free more than the lucky eight people who shelled out $50 to buy a copy of Bob?

Cutting these hapless but brave Bob users off is just plain cruel.
posted by BentPenguin at 4:55 PM on November 20, 2001

If there's a huge market opportunity for continuing to support Win 95 and 98, why don't you start a company to take advantage of it? There are plenty of people out there that know nearly as much about MS products as MS employees themselves who you could hire.

Supporting software costs a lot of money and if people are willing to pay for it, then someone should be happy to enter than market. If it's not such a great opportunity, then don't blame Microsoft for not wanting to continue it either.
posted by hitsman at 8:00 PM on November 20, 2001

On the TV show "Frasier" a few weeks ago, Bill Gates appeared. He got technical calls coming it. I was amused in a way Microsoft/Bill did not intend -- that they were acknowledging that so many people need support.
posted by SEWilco at 8:30 AM on November 23, 2001

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