The software giant has prolonged support for the operating systems until June 30, 2006. During that time, paid over-the-phone support will be available, "critical" security issues will be reviewed, and "appropriate steps" taken.
The company's support for the Windows 98 family of operating systems was scheduled to end this Friday, with support for Windows ME due to expire in December of this year.
"Microsoft made this decision to assist our customers worldwide who are still dependent upon these operating systems and to provide Microsoft more time to communicate its product lifecycle support guidelines in a handful of markets?-particularly smaller and emerging markets," said Danny Beck, Microsoft Australia's senior Windows desktop product marketing manager.
The support expiration dates for all three of the older operating systems were made the same in the interest of clarity, he said.
"We made the decision to also lengthen support for Windows 98 and Windows ME customers through the same date in order to provide a clear and consistent date for support conclusion for all of these older products," Beck explained.
"Microsoft also wanted to bring Windows 98 SE into compliance with the company's current lifecycle policy for new products, which provides for support for seven years instead of the original four," he added.
ZDNet Australia staff reported from Sydney.