Tech Industry

Plus 98 due with Windows upgrade

Plus 98, a utilities package, will be available on June 25, the same day the operating system upgrade is expected to hit the stores.

Microsoft today announced that Microsoft Plus 98, a utilities package for Windows 98, will be available on June 25, the same day the operating system upgrade is expected to hit the stores.

Plus 98 is designed to extend the functionality of Windows 98 by including McAfee's VirusScan software, CyberMedia's File Cleaner, and Microsoft's Picture It imaging software. The kit also includes various desktop wallpapers, screensavers, cursors, and sounds.

Windows 98 itself goes beyond the current desktop standard by incorporating support for new hardware features like USB (universal serial bus, a technology which enables true "plug-and-play" hookups), DVD (digital versatile disc), and TV tuner cards. Windows 98 also features the "active desktop," which integrates the Web browser with desktop applications.

Most PC vendors and retailers will receive shipments of the two products in mid-May, Microsoft said. But the June 25 release date could be put off by an injunction from the Justice Department, which is investigating Microsoft for alleged anti-trust business practices.

Now in its second round, the high-profile antitrust action turns on the software giant's integration of the Internet Explorer (IE) browser. Microsoft is challenging a preliminary injunction requiring it to offer licensees a version of Windows 95 without bundling IE, and also contesting the appointment of a "special master" assigned to the case.

In the meantime, PC vendors have begun a spate of promotions, as has Microsoft. Dell and Hewlett-Packard are offering new systems with Windows 98 rebates redeemable by the software company, while Gateway is offering free copies when the upgrade arrives. Microsoft itself has begun running ads in the print version of the New York Times, though in general the hype preceding the arrival of Windows 95 was greater.

Plus 98 will retail for $44.95. An upgrade version of Windows 98 for current users of Windows products will have an estimated retail price of $109, while the full version is slated to cost $209.