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Microsoft preps Win98 update

Microsoft will deliver the first round of bug fixes and additional support early next year for Windows 98.

Microsoft will deliver a service pack for the Windows 98 operating system early next year, the company said, confirming widespread rumors.

Almost since Windows 98 was released on June 25, the rumor mill has been churning about when Microsoft would deliver the first round of bug fixes for the new operating system. Confusing matters, earlier this summer Microsoft delivered to users what it called a multimedia update, a collection of enhancements for multimedia applications that was originally positioned as a service pack.

Although Microsoft has sold more than 2.5 million copies of Windows 98 and says that customer satisfaction is high, the upgraded OS has been dogged since its release by problematic upgrades on older systems, incompatibility with some notebook computers' power management, and problems recognizing some peripheral devices.

Service pack for Windows 98 includes:
• Support for modular Device Bay hardware

• Additional support for modem drivers

• Increased support for USB modems

• Additional support for local area networks

• Security Updates, such as the patch for the Outlook Express email file attachment bug

• WebTV update, which includes support for Gemstar programming guide and new TV tuner chipsets

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

Source: Microsoft

This first service pack for Windows 98 tackles these issues, and will offer expanded support for peripherals and improved power management, Microsoft said. It will include a patch for the date rollover bug, a glitch that throws off a system's calendar if the computer is turned on as the date is changing.

"That will be addressed," said Rob Bennett, product manager for Windows 98. "Because it is so minor a problem, we decided to hold it till the service pack."

The service pack will likely not include any components of the multimedia update, according to Bennett.

"The service pack is about providing hardware support and addressing issues," he said. "The multimedia update was about adding functionality. We try to keep the two distinct."

The service pack will undergo rigorous testing in an effort to avoid some of the problems users are experiencing with the service pack for Office 97, Bennett noted. The Windows 98 SP1 will be delivered to beta testers later this month.

"I feel confident in saying that with Windows 98, at this point, there hasn't been any one issue that has had critical mass. They've been very rare, relatively minor," said Bennett. "We're in a much better position with Windows 98 than we were with Windows 95."