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Japan demands Windows 98

Microsoft is making more copies of the upgraded operating system software available even before Saturday's launch.

Responding to surprising international demand for Windows 98, Microsoft is making more copies of the upgraded operating system software available in Japan.

The Japanese version doesn't launch until Saturday, July 25, but Microsoft has expanded production to ensure supplies don't run out upon its debut, according to a Brian Shafer, international marketing manager for the software giant.

"On the back of the success we've had in the countries where we have launched, the Japanese management [of Microsoft] has decided to make more product available to make sure that they don't run out on the launch date," Shafer said.

The English version of Windows 98 launched on June 25, and native- language editions are available in such countries as France, Germany, and Spain. However, Microsoft allows foreign divisions to delay launch dates. Such is the case in Japan, though the Japanese-language version has been ready for several weeks.

Microsoft Japan will initially ship 700,000 copies of Windows 98, about 40 percent more than previously stated, according to the Japanese business daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun. Microsoft would not comment on those figures.

Japanese PC retailers will offer their own version of "midnight madness" sales like those that took place before the U.S. launch, Shafer said. For example, many Japanese retailers will make Windows 98 available at midnight on July 24.

By the end of the summer, Microsoft will launch international versions of Windows 98 for Denmark, Taiwan, Korea, China, Thailand, Poland, and Arabic countries, Shafer said.

U.S. sales have also gone surprisingly well, and have been credited with helping to boost June PC purchases by a whopping 37 percent.