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Another beta for Windows 98 fixes

Microsoft releases a second beta of its Service Pack for Windows 98 for computer manufacturers, but the final version is still a long way off.

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.

  • Security updates.

  • Networking enhancements that will enable dial-up connections over ATM networks.