Ostensibly attempting to end months of confusion and rumors, Microsoft has without fanfare posted on the Web the Windows 98 Service Pack 1, which includes bug fixes and year 2000 upgrades for the Windows 98 operating system, released last year.
The service pack apparently was posted on the Microsoft Web site on June 16 in the Windows 98 product section. However, there is no information on the main company Web page directing site visitors to the service pack. The service pack can be downloaded for free, or can be ordered on CD for a small shipping-and-handling fee.
Plans for the service pack were in the works for some time, but last month's release of Windows 98 Second Edition, which includes some new features and costs US$109, caused confusion and rumors. Microsoft attempted to clarify what it was doing with postings on its Web site.
The service pack is presented in the Windows 98 area of the site as an alternative for users who don't want to buy the second edition of the operating system. "If you're not interested in Windows 98 Second Edition's new features, but you'd like to freshen up your original version of Windows 98, there are some ways you can," according to a statement outlining service pack "highlights" on the Web site.
The service pack includes a system update that fixes problems related to the universal serial bus (USB) and networking capabilities, among others. It also contains Internet Explorer 4.01 Service Pack 2, including a security fix for that browser version, and updates for Internet-related functions, year 2000 compatibility and year 2000 Outlook Express.
The same Web page also has links to download Internet Explorer 5 and Internet tools and a link to order IE 5 and tools on CD for $6.95 shipping and handling.
On the other hand, Windows 98 Second Edition incorporates IE5 E as the default browser.
Windows 98 Service Pack 1 on CD costs $5 for shipping and handling and may be ordered through the Web site. There is a limit of five service packs per order. Information on the pack is available at http://www.microsoft.com/windows98/highlights/win98update.asp/.
Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080 or at http://www.microsoft.com.