Win 98 service pack may draw tepid response

Microsoft plans to issue its first service pack for Windows 98 early next year, with added support for Universal Serial Bus modems, a common modem driver model for Windows 98 and NT 5.0, some security fixes and tools for easier administration. The service pack is expected to address the date-rollover glitch that caught the company by surprise last month.

Microsoft plans to issue its first service pack for Windows 98 early next year, with added support for Universal Serial Bus modems, a common modem driver model for Windows 98 and NT 5.0, some security fixes and tools for easier administration.

The service pack is expected to address the date-rollover glitch that caught the company by surprise last month. The bug occurs only when a person boots up at the exact moment the PC’s clock rolls over to a new day, causing the PC’s calendar clock to move ahead erroneously.

Users don’t appear to be clamoring for the service pack, in part because corporate adoption has been relatively slow.

That’s because Windows 98 is new and isn’t perceived as providing huge benefits over Windows 95, users and analysts said.

Windows 98 also is less buggy than Windows 95 was before the release of its first service pack, so most users don’t have a critical need for the Windows 98 service pack, said John Dunkle, an analyst at Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based Workgroup Strategic Services Inc. Users are finding some benefits, however.

At Brewers Retail Inc. in Mississauga, Ontario, technical operations manager Larry Garden said a common driver model between Windows 98 and NT will eliminate the time spent writing to separate drivers.

Garden added that users with dial-up connections have fewer problems connecting to the network with Windows 98 than with Windows 95 -- which is why he has them using it.

“With Windows 98, we can set up people’s network properties on an individual basis based on the number they’re dialing in from, so it’s easier to prevent conflicts that cause time-outs,” Garden said.

Other featured enhancements and fixes in Windows 98 include the following:

-- Support for device bays, which allow peripherals such as hard drives to be swapped in and out of a PC more easily.

-- Wake-on-LAN technology, which allows for remote start-up of a networked PC from a low-power state for upgrades and maintenance.

-- Fixes for an Internet Explorer security issue, which prevents a script running in one Web browser window from affecting other windows running simultaneously.

The Explorer security issue involved the ability of malicious script in one browser window to potentially cause problems for script in another window if both were running at the same time, according to Microsoft spokeswoman Kim Akers.

Also included is support for extended characters in Visual Basic file names, the ability to stores files more quickly and the ability to have dial-up connections over Asynchronous Transfer Mode networks.

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