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Official: Win98 new version to ship in Q3

And is this a browser we see disintegrating itself slowly at version 5.0?

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Microsoft has now officially conceded that there will be another version of Windows 98, and says that what is likely to be called Windows 98 Second Edition will ship in late summer or autumn of this year. The company still hasn't admitted that its plans for a convergence of code on the NT/Win2k kernel are therefore toast, but what were you expecting? Confirmation that Windows 9x lives comes from IE marketing chief Yusuf Mehdi, who says that the new software will include Internet Explorer 5.0 (which is released today) and various other technologies, including Internet Connection Sharing, which will allow multiple computers to access the Internet over a single line. This is clearly intended to take xDSL deployment a stage further via a form of home networking. Microsoft's hit rate when it comes to accurate prediction of how fast consumer broadband is going to take off has so far been absolutely diabolical, but maybe this time it will be different. Win98 #2 does however look very much like the packaging operation we predicted it would be. It will be a service pack on steroids which Microsoft has decided to throw some other bits into, and then call it an OS. Considering the level of technical challenge involved, it shouldn't be too difficult to get it out the door on schedule, but as one of the unfortunate side-effects of the U-turn over convergence is that MS probably doesn't have anything like a full-scale 9x development team in place, traditional slippage is still perfectly possible. That might present a problem, if the ship date slips beyond the end of the trial, and any remedies imposed (assuming Microsoft loses) involve a bit of disintegration. But IE 5.0 shows signs that Microsoft may be preparing for that eventuality. From the user's perspective IE 5.0 appears to be somewhat less closely integrated with the OS than IE 4.0, and although Microsoft is still insisting that the underlying code is tightly integrated, you can see the possibilities here. At the trial Microsoft insisted that there were perfectly valid reasons for code sharing between the shell and the browser, whereas critics suggested that there was more than a little arbitrary gluing together of DLLs to attain this 'integration.' If IE 5.0 looks and feels like shell and browser could be two separate things, then breaking them apart isn't going to cause so many problems with users, and hacking the DLLs apart again can just be done under the covers. So maybe MS is shipping defeatist code. ® Related Stories: Next version of Win98 due in Q2? MS planning Win98 follow-up? MS junks consumer NT plan

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