Consumers who purchase new personal computing products may get a free or discounted upgrade for Microsoft's Windows 98, amid some complaints about the price of the upgrade for users not eligible for rebates.
Windows 98, the upgrade for the ubiquitous Windows 95 OS (operating system), is due to hit stores on June 25. For many users who have a version of Windows already installed on their PC, the price will be $109 for an upgrade, while DOS users or those who have no OS will pay $209 for the full version.
For those buying other new products, Microsoft--as well as many major PC makers--has begun including Windows 98 rebate offers in products that ship between now and when the upgrade becomes available.
Windows 98 is a hardware-centric upgrade, including support for hardware features like TV tuner cards, DVD (digital versatile disc) drives, and USB (universal serial bus), which enables true "plug-n-play" peripheral device hook-ups.
The primary interface upgrade is the integration of Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser with the desktop. However, this "active desktop" is available for free when users download the newest version of Internet Explorer, leading to complaints from PC users annoyed at being charged for a feature already available for free.
Today, Microsoft began running ads in the print version of the New York Times announcing full rebates on Windows 98 for those who buy handheld computers running Microsoft's Windows CE OS. Microsoft will redeem a certificate included with the Palm PC for a CD-ROM of Windows 98, the company confirmed.
PC vendors have also begun their own efforts to promote the upgrade. Earlier this month, Dell Dimension Pentium II systems began shipping with a rebate certificate, redeemable by Microsoft, for Windows 98.
Hewlett-Packard is currently offering Pavilion customers a certificate for a $30 version of Windows 98, according to an HP sales representative. That promotion is expected to run through September.