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IBM to offer Windows 98 for free

Big Blue joins other major PC vendors in offering free or discounted upgrades to Microsoft's newest operating system.

IBM will offer free upgrades to Microsoft's Windows 98 operating system for Aptiva consumer models and also certain ThinkPad notebook models purchased before the software's scheduled June 25 release.

The promotion is retroactive to May 1 and runs through June 30, according to the company.

Big Blue joins Gateway and Dell in making free upgrades available to new PC customers. The upgrade's retail price will be $109 for users with previous versions of Windows installed, and $209 for users with DOS or no operating system at all.

Other major PC vendors have announced steep discounts. Compaq and Hewlett-Packard are running a coupon program that will allow PC buyers to order Windows 98 upgrades for about $30.

In Japan, IBM Japan, Compaq, Fujitsu, and NEC will all offer free upgrades, according to the online version of Nikkei Business Publications.

All of the upgrade promotions are part of an effort by PC makers to address customers' reluctance to purchase systems before the widespread availability of Windows 98. But it's unclear how government action to delay the software's release would affect the promotional efforts.

Reuters contributed to this story.