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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 January, 2004, 12:31 GMT
Windows 98 wins support lifeline
Windows 98 on sale in computer store, AP
Windows 98: A favourite with many
Microsoft has granted its venerable Windows 98 software a reprieve.

The software giant was planning to end support for the product on 16 January but has now changed its mind.

The turn off date has now been extended to 30 June 2006 following protests by some developing nations who are keen users of the ageing operating system.

Extended support means users must pay for help to solve problems but Microsoft will issue free patches to counter serious security threats.

Long life

The decision to extend support reverses an earlier Microsoft announcement that Windows 98 was reaching the end of its support period.

That announcement reportedly raised concerns in some regions, such as the Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, and Slovenia, where the software was still popular.

Microsoft's change of heart is also thought to be motivated by a wish to stop developing nations choosing cheaper open source operating systems such as Linux.

This operating system will happily run on hardware that will support Windows 98 but not more resource hungry versions of the Microsoft operating system.

The extended support also brings Windows 98 into line with other Microsoft products which have enjoyed backing for seven years. The extended support period also covers Windows Millennium (Me).

The change of mind will be a relief for the many organisations that still use Windows 98 even though the software is more than five years old.

A survey by AssetMetrix found that 39% of the organisations it questioned had machines running Windows 98 and 95.

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