Dear Windows-Help.NET Subscriber,
Microsoft announced that Windows 98 "lifetime" is to be extended through 2003, two years longer then originally planned. This means that consumers won't need to upgrade their hardware to run a consumer version of Windows NT, which will require 64MB of memory and a 300MHz processor.
It was expected that a next consumer release would be based on the NT kernel, and that still seems to be the case, but there could be one or more releases based on Windows 9.x code. Early last year, Bill Gates predicted that a consumer OS based on the NT kernel would be released by 2001. That seems to be at least three years off. Microsoft is still maintaining that the next "major" consumer release will be the "NT consumer", but then it all depends on the word "major". Rumours are that the next Windows 98 "upgrade" will be called "Windows 2000 Personal Edition".
Driving forces for this delay seem to be the hardware requirements and software compatibility. For one thing, Microsoft got a lot of complaints when it introduced Windows 98, that the software giant underestimated hardware requirements. A lot of people have had serious trouble in getting Windows 98 to work on their older machines. Some relief is to be expected from the upcoming release of Service Pack 1, currently in Beta testing. The SR1 is expected to be available to OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), to be pre-loaded on new systems around June.
SR1 is rumoured to consist of Internet Explorer 5.0, DirectX 6.1 (available now, see article in this Newsletter), and other updates such as Windows Media Player, updated WebTV support, and networking upgrades, as well as other fixes/upgrades. The upgrade is likely to exceed 100MB in size. It's not clear if Microsoft is going to make the SR1 available as a single download, or that users will have to download components individually (most likely).
The other issue is well known with people currently running NT: The games compatibility is going to be a huge issue. Then there are Plug and Play and PCMCIA support issues as well.
Jesse Best, Editorial Director of ZDNet's AnchorDesk has a clear view. According to him a consumer NT will never happen. Read his reasoning.
It was also announced that the next Beta of Windows 2000 is expected somewhere in April, and the final version is expected to ship in late 1999. Take it from me, that won't happen. As numerous experts have pointed out, Microsoft is well aware that IT budgets from the second quarter onward are largely reserved for Y2K issues, so they'll probably delay shipping Windows 2000 to somewhere in the first few months of the year 2000.
In the meantime, Linus Torvalds released the new version of Linux, version 2.2 last week. Some of the improvements to the kernel were updated support for multiprocessor systems, improved file access - using a high-speed memory cache, smoother memory management, firewalls, RAID (disk arrays) and improved hardware support (particularly high-speed connections).
More information can be found at LinuxHQ.
Dell is the latest in a series of hardware makers to announce increased support for Linux. Last week Dell announced it is teaming up with Red Hat, to supply specific Dell servers and workstations with Linux.
One of the things driving this is price. With servers coming to the market with sub $2000 prices, saving $600 on an operating system is becoming more of an issue.
Hewlett Packard and Silicon Graphics both announced support for Linux last week. HP's NetServer line is being offered with Linux pre-installed. SGI plans to make Linux one of its core operating system options. Momentum is building!
Bill Gates in the mean time seems to have taken notice of our suggestion in the Newsletter of 09 January 1999 to sell (some) of his Microsoft stock. He gave notice to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that he is planning to sell 3.5 million shares (out of a total of about 510 million), which would net him a cool $550 million.
Patch Available for IIS "Malformed FTP List Request" Vulnerability
Microsoft has released a patch that eliminates a vulnerability in the Internet Information Server® FTP service. This vulnerability could allow denial of service attacks against the server or, under certain conditions, could allow arbitrary code to be executed on the server.
More information related to this issue in Microsoft Knowledge Base Article No. Q188348.