Microsoft has officially begun requesting that users running Windows 98, 98 SE and Millennium Edition (Me) upgrade their operating system as soon as possible. The Redmond company will cease all public and technical support for the products on July 11, 2006, including all security updates.
Customers are being notified of the impending deadline, which was moved from January 16, 2004 to provide extra time for those still running legacy systems. No-charge incident support and extended hotfix support for Windows 98 and Me previously ended on June 30, 2003 and December 31, 2003, respectively.
Microsoft will continue to provide Windows 98 and Me help topics through its Web site until at least July 11, 2007. However, without additional security updates, customers will be left unprotected from potential vulnerabilities.
"It's surprising how many consumers or businesses still use these older versions, particularly Windows 98. Their continued use partly accounts for an extension of support for about an additional 18 months--from January 2004 to July 2006," Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox told BetaNews.
In a statement, Microsoft said it was ending support for Windows 98 and Me "because they are outdated and these older operating systems can expose customers to security risks." The company is urging all users to upgrade to Windows XP Service Pack 2.
However, Jupiter's Wilcox noted, "Our surveys show that, among consumer households, most older Windows versions run on second or third PCs, and I expect many to remain in use even after security support ends."
"Timing is unfortunate given Windows Vista's delay," he added. "Consumers with Windows 98 or Me will be looking at new Windows XP PCs -- or even a Mac -- instead of Windows Vista."