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1. Why did Microsoft decide to extend global support for these operating systems?
Our goal is to accommodate our customers and to do what’s right for them. We feel we’ve done a good job of communicating the Microsoft product support lifecycle guidelines to customers in the majority of markets. However, we have found we could use more time to communicate these guidelines in some markets — particularly smaller and emerging markets. Based on current support volumes and customer feedback in these regions, we felt this would be the right approach for our customers. Lengthening the product support lifecycle for Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, and Windows Millennium Edition (Me) globally provides us the time in those markets with the added benefit of giving customers worldwide access to extended support.
2. Was there a large customer outcry about the end of support?
No.This decision was based on the fact that customers in some markets could use this additional time.
3. As recently as January 9, 2004 you confirmed that support would end on January 16, 2004. When was this decision made?
We have been discussing a support extension for some time and made a final decision on January 9, 2004. We have now begun communicating that decision.
4. Does this extension include support for Windows 98 and Windows Millennium Edition components like Internet Explorer?
Yes. Microsoft will extend the support end date for the current versions of components (such as Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1 and Windows Media Player 9) on Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, and Windows Me. For these products running on these three Windows products, Microsoft will provide paid incident support. Microsoft will also continue to review and address critical security updates on these products, through July 11, 2006.
5. How many copies of Windows 98 and Windows Millennium Edition are you selling annually?
We don’t release sales figures, but while sales of Windows 98 and Windows Me have largely fallen off in most countries, there are markets where support of these products continues to be in demand, and where customers may not be aware that product support was coming to a conclusion.
6. I thought you were encouraging people to migrate to Windows XP for many reasons, especially because of security. Doesn’t this extension contradict that effort?
No. We still strongly encourage customers to move to Windows XP for its many benefits, including improved security. This extension provides additional time for Microsoft to communicate its support lifecycle guidelines in certain markets and for customers in those markets to fully evaluate a move to Windows XP.
7. Does this extension indicate that Windows XP sales are not going well?
No. We are very pleased with the adoption of Windows XP.
8. How many Windows 98 and Windows Me support calls do you receive per month?
We typically do not discuss call volumes, but we can say that these volumes continue to fall and are well below that for current products.
9. Are you admitting that your original product lifecycle policy was flawed?
We are responding to regionally-limited ongoing customer demand, and giving those customers more time to understand the lifecycle policy. The lifecycle policies define the minimum support timelines; we consider many factors when determining whether to extend support beyond the specified lifecycle dates. In this case, we felt customers in certain markets could use the extra time.
10. Does the extended support for Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, and Windows Me worldwide mean you’ll continue to address security issues?
Yes. Microsoft will review any critical security issues and take appropriate steps. Non-security hotfixes are not offered during this support period.
11. Does this differ from your recent statement about addressing Windows 98 security issues on a case-by-case basis?
No. We will look at potential critical security issues facing our customers and address them as appropriate. This does not change.
12. What about customers who decided to invest in Windows XP based on the lifecycle? Won’t they be upset about this?
Microsoft continually evaluates customer requirements and makes adjustments to our support policies on an ongoing basis. This is not the first time we’ve decided to extend the support end date for a product. Customers can always rest assured that support for a product is never reduced — only occasionally lengthened — based on customer requirements.
13. Why aren’t you applying the new lifecycle timeline of seven years to Windows Me?
To reduce confusion for customers and extend support for both products, we decided to implement a single, consistent date for ending support for operating systems still covered by the older support lifecycle policies.
14. When was support for these products originally scheduled to end?
As we communicated in December 2002, we extended paid assistance support for Windows 98 and Windows 98 Second Edition beyond the original June 30, 2003 expiration date to January 16, 2004 to better accommodate our customers. Support for Windows Me was scheduled to end on December 31, 2004.
15. Will Microsoft also consider making this change for other products?
Microsoft does not currently plan to make any additional adjustments for other products. However, we listen to our customers on all topics, including our support lifecycle policies.