I got out of the Navy about a month after Windows 95 was released. A few months later, I was hard at work for Micron Electronics, supporting computers over the phone. Or, as one of the guys on the line said, "Welcome to hell."
Two years worth of 12 hour days later, Windows 98 was released. I was a beta tester when it was "Memphis". Dual monitor technology on a Pentium 166 was a sight to behold. USB was a meaningless three letter acronym. I still had a serial mouse and my modem was a blistering fast 33.6Kbps.
Fast forward to today. Windows XP is the standard and Vista is just around the corner. Micron Electronics is gone and I'm an electrical engineer. I talk on the phone for fun and I own a Mac. And Microsoft is ending support for for Windows 98, 98SE and ME.
I'll shed a tear for Windows 98, but I still curse "Millenium Edition". Oh, I won't go into the brutal details, other than to say that Windows ME seems more like a poorly developed marketing idea rather than an operating system.
Oh sure, eight years is a long time for an operating system these days. And it's probably not fair to expect support to remain in place forever. After all, I know as well (and probably better) than the next guy that support costs money - and support for a product that's long out of production is a black hole, especially for software.
But, interestingly, there are still peripherals out there that still don't (and probably never will) run on Windows XP or its successors. My HP Photo Scanner (the original SCSI model) doesn't and HP won't make drivers to fix the problem - again, it's a money decision, I'm sure. The scanner is long out of production and it's a financial black hole to throw development money after it. But I really do like that scanner...thankfully, it works like a charm under Linux.
But back to Windows - if you're still using Windows 98, tomorrow, July 11, 2006 is the last day to expect any support from Microsoft. That's it - after tomorrow, you're on your own. Or at least, you're not going to get any help from Microsoft and that includes both security and bug fixes. But if you depend on Windows 98, 98SE or (gasp) ME, hope is not lost. You can still find help from the PCSOFT community (available right here at FreePCTech or by googling for third party support on the web.
So, dry your tears and hoist a cold one for our buddy Windows 98. It was a good run while it lasted and there may even be hope for a few more years from our pal!