Windows 98 and Millennium Edition, RIP

Jason reminds me that today signals the death knell for Windows 98 and Me.

Windows 98 was an evolutionary, not revolutionary, upgrade from Windows 95. It had a lot of great incremental improvements, though! Scanreg (the Registry Checker) saved my bacon a number of times, and MSConfig and Disk Cleanup are still in heavy use to this day. Having IE 4 integrated was a plus, though I was already familiar with the new interface largely due to the Windows Desktop Update that came with IE 4 as an option on Win95. I used 98 for a long time and figured out a lot of great ways to mod it up.

While Windows 98 is still fairly widely used (especially in third-world countries), the same can’t be said about Windows Me, generally considered the worst modern release of Windows known to man. They should have put it down sooner, probably, but they at least wanted to be fair. I’ll always remember being astonished at Windows Me being delivered with beta versions of Media Player 7* and IE 5.5, which were finalized on Me’s release day and made available on Windows Update for immediate download. It was lame during its development, and only saw about a year of mainstream use before it was obsoleted by Windows XP. I remember using Windows Me briefly at my parents’ house back in 2001 and being absolutely stunned at its lack of compatibility with a lot of applications, despite it being a legacy operating system (indeed, the main draw to Windows Me was that it was an alternative to Windows 2000 that supported more hardware and software…right). Needless to say, I was so, so happy to bring Windows XP and its NT kernel home. Since I upgraded to XP at home, I’ve seen Windows Me in the field on exactly two computers. It had no staying power – but then again, was that Microsoft’s intent? I would expound further, but I’m worn out and my stomach (and probably you! :P) are screaming at me. :)

* Thanks beanboy89!

J

  • http://beanboy89.blogspot.com/ beanboy89

    Windows 98 and Me support was due to end back in 2003, but users encouraged Microsoft to push the end-of-life back to eventually 2006. Actually, I was using Windows 98 SE up until about a year ago on an old Pentium III, and finally we decided to get a new computer with Windows XP. I didn’t miss Windows 9x one bit, and the stability and security on NT-based OSs is tones better than 9xs DOS codebase.

    Really, I don’t know why Microsoft ever went to the trouble of making Windows Me (which shipped with Windows Media Player 7.0, not 9 beta ;-) ). They should’ve made Windows 98 SE the last DOS-based Windows OS, then focused on making Windows 2000 more consumer-friendly (remember Neptune?).

    -Billy

  • http://beanboy89.blogspot.com/ beanboy89

    Windows 98 and Me support was due to end back in 2003, but users encouraged Microsoft to push the end-of-life back to eventually 2006. Actually, I was using Windows 98 SE up until about a year ago on an old Pentium III, and finally we decided to get a new computer with Windows XP. I didn’t miss Windows 9x one bit, and the stability and security on NT-based OSs is tones better than 9xs DOS codebase.

    Really, I don’t know why Microsoft ever went to the trouble of making Windows Me (which shipped with Windows Media Player 7.0, not 9 beta ;-) ). They should’ve made Windows 98 SE the last DOS-based Windows OS, then focused on making Windows 2000 more consumer-friendly (remember Neptune?).

    -Billy

  • http://www.jaredwsmith.com Jared Smith

    Yep, they had to push the date back because 98 was, indeed, so widely used. Microsoft would have looked foolish had they killed Me before 98, so that was pushed back too, though I would have lauded the move. ;)

    I think Windows Me did some good, though. At the time of its release, MS was trying to complete Whistler (XP), and making sure all the backwards-compatibility hacks (really, that’s all they were) worked properly. Windows Me bought them some time to do so, as they didn’t — wait for it — want to keep customers waiting too long for a new version of Windows. ;) Plus Me was a good proving ground for some of the new stability features they wanted to try, such as System Restore (though System Restore — surprise! — never worked properly on Me for…umm…me) and Automatic Updates (which also never worked properly, haha).

  • http://www.jaredwsmith.com Jared Smith

    Yep, they had to push the date back because 98 was, indeed, so widely used. Microsoft would have looked foolish had they killed Me before 98, so that was pushed back too, though I would have lauded the move. ;)

    I think Windows Me did some good, though. At the time of its release, MS was trying to complete Whistler (XP), and making sure all the backwards-compatibility hacks (really, that’s all they were) worked properly. Windows Me bought them some time to do so, as they didn’t — wait for it — want to keep customers waiting too long for a new version of Windows. ;) Plus Me was a good proving ground for some of the new stability features they wanted to try, such as System Restore (though System Restore — surprise! — never worked properly on Me for…umm…me) and Automatic Updates (which also never worked properly, haha).

  • http://www.digitalduke.com the_duke

    It’s about time, IMO

  • http://www.digitalduke.com the_duke

    It’s about time, IMO

  • http://www.lifelessempathy.net/ NotMyBest2Day

    Aww, 98 and ME were fun though. I had ME when I got my Gateway. Of course it was a living Hell, but it was the hardware’s fault–really. 98 Always did a good job for me, too. As far as system restore, I always turned it off the first chance I got after a reformat/reinstall. That thing was such a waste, and still is to this day. Totally useless feature, IMO.

    Yes, NT-based OSes are much better, but I don’t know about XP. I don’t like it. More eye candy than I want. There comes a point where performance is better than looks, and well, XP crossed that line, so 2000 (which is all XP is, essentally) works great for me. Nothing like the OS only using 40mb of RAM instead of somewhere in the low hundreds and all the processing power wasted to make the GUI look stupid.

  • http://www.lifelessempathy.net/ NotMyBest2Day

    Aww, 98 and ME were fun though. I had ME when I got my Gateway. Of course it was a living Hell, but it was the hardware’s fault–really. 98 Always did a good job for me, too. As far as system restore, I always turned it off the first chance I got after a reformat/reinstall. That thing was such a waste, and still is to this day. Totally useless feature, IMO.

    Yes, NT-based OSes are much better, but I don’t know about XP. I don’t like it. More eye candy than I want. There comes a point where performance is better than looks, and well, XP crossed that line, so 2000 (which is all XP is, essentally) works great for me. Nothing like the OS only using 40mb of RAM instead of somewhere in the low hundreds and all the processing power wasted to make the GUI look stupid.

  • http://www.jaredwsmith.com Jared Smith

    I’ve run XP in classic mode since I’ve gotten it. The RAM usage is a bit higher but it’s not bad.

    I recently installed the Profile Hive Cleanup Service or something to that effect, and have noticed a rather nice increase in performance as a result. It helps keep things tidy. :)

  • http://www.jaredwsmith.com Jared Smith

    I’ve run XP in classic mode since I’ve gotten it. The RAM usage is a bit higher but it’s not bad.

    I recently installed the Profile Hive Cleanup Service or something to that effect, and have noticed a rather nice increase in performance as a result. It helps keep things tidy. :)

  • http://beanboy89.blogspot.com/ beanboy89

    I actually like System Restore. It’s saved me from a complete reformat/reinstall a few times already, and the disk space it takes up is hardly a drop in the bucket with today’s breed of large hard drives.

    And I do run my Windows XP systems in Windows Classic mode, but not for the performance gains, but because I think they look alot cleaner than any Windows XP Visual Style I’ve tried.

  • http://beanboy89.blogspot.com/ beanboy89

    I actually like System Restore. It’s saved me from a complete reformat/reinstall a few times already, and the disk space it takes up is hardly a drop in the bucket with today’s breed of large hard drives.

    And I do run my Windows XP systems in Windows Classic mode, but not for the performance gains, but because I think they look alot cleaner than any Windows XP Visual Style I’ve tried.

  • http://www.jaredwsmith.com Jared Smith

    System Restore was largely useless in Windows Me but can be quite the lifesaver in Windows XP…unless it’s backed up a virus. That’s definitely an issue. Microsoft has to make it easier for antivirus products to scan the restore points.

    And I will concur on the Visual Styles as well. I used Watercolor for a long time, which is based on the first “Codename Whistler” visual style which was actually extremely attractive because it was a subtle enhancement to the Windows interface, not a bloated Fisher-Price nightmare gone wrong. :)

  • http://www.jaredwsmith.com Jared Smith

    System Restore was largely useless in Windows Me but can be quite the lifesaver in Windows XP…unless it’s backed up a virus. That’s definitely an issue. Microsoft has to make it easier for antivirus products to scan the restore points.

    And I will concur on the Visual Styles as well. I used Watercolor for a long time, which is based on the first “Codename Whistler” visual style which was actually extremely attractive because it was a subtle enhancement to the Windows interface, not a bloated Fisher-Price nightmare gone wrong. :)