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Thursday, June 25, 1998 Published at 21:43 GMT 22:43 UK

Frenzy lacking as Windows opens

Teenagers in Bolivia try out Windows 98

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates interviewed on BBC World: "Well, we shipped Windows 98."
The launch of Microsoft's Windows 98 operating system has failed to generate the initial sales frenzy of its predecessor.

Company chairman Bill Gates's successor to the massively popular Windows 95 went on sale on Thursday with none of the hype of the former's launch.

In keeping with the low profile, Microsoft stock fell $2.25 to $102.69 in heavy trading on the US Nasdaq from its record high of $105.875 set on Wednesday.

According to reports:

  • In America reaction was a mere shadow of the "midnight madness" of three years ago.

  • In Europe interest was overshadowed by the World Cup.

  • In Japan users waited for the launch of a Japanese-laguage version next month.

    In Australia, computer fan Daniel Chan was certified as the first official purchaser of Windows 98.

    He received a package autographed by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.

    Internet correspondent Chris Nuttal reports
    Hundreds of consumers did line up outside CompUSA stores nationwide in America for a promotion that began at midnight.

    However, they appeared to be drawn mainly by a chance to buy a limited number of $800 computers sold for $98 each.

    Evolution not revolution

    [ image: Bill Gates: hoping his baby repeats earlier success]
    Bill Gates: hoping his baby repeats earlier success
    Windows 98, used on nine out of ten of the world's PCs, went on sale in 40 countries worldwide.

    The BBC Business Correspondent Patrick O'Connell in New York said three years ago the product lit a fire under retail sales.

    Then nearly 20 million copies were sold in its first four months of release.

    This time round things so far appear rather more muted.

    Analysts say the $90 system system offers more in evolution than in revolution.

    Nonetheless the correspondent said it marks an important step along the road to resolving the whole question of the claims against the power and business practices of the world's largest software company.

    Last month US Attorney General Janet Reno filed a landmark anti-trust case that alleged Windows 98 is evidence that Microsoft was using its monopoly in the operating system market to gain control of the crucial Internet browser market.

    The case is set to be heard in September.

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