Microsoft released an interim build of the beta of its Service Pack for Windows 98 for computer manufacturers, but the final version of the fix is still a long way off.
The Service Pack is aimed at eliminating a litany of annoying glitches
embedded in the Windows 98 operating system. Although Windows 98 has been the top-selling
software since its release last summer, users have complained about
problematic upgrade experiences and compatibility issues with some
peripherals such as modems. The first Windows 98 service pack will address
some of these issues, as well as offer some increased functionality.
Microsoft released the refresh of
the first beta
of the Service Pack for computer makers right before Christmas, according
to a Microsoft spokesman. The spokesman, however, added that the final
version of the Service Pack won't come out until "mid to late Q1," he said.
In other words, computers containing the fixed version of Windows 98, won't
come out until later in the first quarter of 1999, and consumers won't be able to get the final fix
until that time as well.
In a break with tradition, two different beta groups are testing the
Service Pack for Windows 98. One, called OSR, is aimed at the updated
version of Windows 98 that will eventually be available to computer
vendors. The recent beta applies to the OSR group. The other, called SP1,
is the separate collection of bug fixes that will be available for consumers
to download off the Net to augment store-bought copies of Windows 98. A
first beta for SP1 came out in November.
Microsoft has said SP1 for Windows
98 will include:
Support for modular Device Bay hardware.
Additional support for modem drivers.
Increased support for USB modems.
WebTV for Windows update.
Additional support for local area networks.
Networking enhancements that will enable dial-up connections over ATM