Good-Bye Windows 98?

Days after our last issue went to press, Microsoft confirmed the next version of their Office suite will only be compatible with Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 or later, including Windows XP. Windows 98 and Windows Me users will have to upgrade in order to run Office 11, which in some cases might require a replacement PC.

Microsoft has announced plans to phase out support for older operating systems after seven years, supporting only the previous two versions of software. In fact, Windows 95 reached its "end of life" status at the end of 2002, while Windows 98 and Windows NT 4.0 will be completely unsupported as of June, 2004.

The timing of this shift towards the Windows 2000/XP platform is especially disappointing to larger businesses. Many opted to sign up for Microsoft's Software Assurance program due to specials offered last summer, only to discover they must now upgrade all their older PCs to run the new version of Office, for which they have essentially already paid.

Microsoft claims the reason for the lack of support for older Windows versions is increased stability and security, as well as reduced development effort. Further, Office 11 is targeted towards midsize and larger businesses, which Microsoft believes are more likely using Windows 2000 or XP already.

Early feedback is that Microsoft's plan might backfire if companies decide to stick with Office XP rather than upgrade both Office and Windows at the same time when Office 11 is released later this year. Early reviews indicate there are few new features besides XML support, with most changes appearing as refinements to the interface.

January 2003

Send this article to a friend!
Subscribe to The ITS Connection

Related articles