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Win98 Second Edition could ship within weeks

It's on final release candidate, and it's a lot readier than Win2k.

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Spot the difference. Beta 3 of Win2k is rolling out this week, and the pre-release publicity strongly implies it's really, really nearly ready. The final, final (no, really) build of Windows 98 Second Edition RC3 (Release Candidate 3) went out in the past couple of days, and Microsoft's publicity machine has barely mentioned it. One of the differences is that MS is charging $59.95 for Win2k beta 3, but is just getting on with it with SE RC3. If you're paying for a beta, commercial realities dictate that you ought to have time to enjoy it before the real product ships. But with the SE beta, testers are being told this is the final one, and that they should give it a thorough going over. As we've mentioned before in these parts, SE's origins as a service pack mean it's a lot more achievable than Win2k, so the appearance of the final RC beta plus stern instructions to shake the last bugs out makes it pretty clear that gold code is close. Microsoft's determination to get it out can be gauged by the fact that there were actually two builds in the last seven days - RC2 build 2185 was posted and shipped around a week ago, and RC3 build 2222 followed it almost immediately. So what do you reckon for gold code? May? It could happen. How Microsoft is going to differentiate between the 98 service pack and SE is a tricky question though. As the service pack beta turned into the SE beta, they clearly have similarities, but while Microsoft says the service pack will be free, SE is going to be charged for. Something about them will have to be different - could some of you good people out there suggest what? Meanwhile, we note that MS has found more Y2k problems with Windows 98. The fixes are to be rolled into SE and, presumably, the service pack. ®

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