back to article Happy birthday, you lumbering MS-DOS-based mess: Windows 98 turns 20 today

Windows 98 turns 20 today. However, rose-tinted spectacles still don't make a hybrid 16 and 32 bit OS tottering on top of MS-DOS any more appealing. While Windows NT 4.0 pointed to a future free from MS-DOS, the majority of the Windows user base simply did not have the hardware to run much more than a jumped-up version of …

  1. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I dont miss it

    I had the Missfortune pleasure to be using 98 as a development platform for a hybrid C++/VB6 app back then and counted it as a good day when I got less than 1 bluescreen an hour!

    Remember kids always check in before compiling and debugging!

    1. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Re: I dont miss it

      1 bluescreen an hour... you were lucky!

      Before Win98 we used Win95 to develop client/server apps, the time between two BSOD was in minutes :doh:

      1. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: I dont miss it

        It's interesting, When Vista first came out and people hated it, I remember a few people (that actually liked Vista) pointing out that everyone also hated XP when it was first released, however I never did understand this. I remember very quickly liking XP upon release - mainly because XP was such an upgrade reliability wise from Windows 95/98/ME.

        Of course, Windows 98 could run on 16MB of RAM whereas XP needed 256MB-512MB, but boy did you pay for it with the shonky reliability!

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "however I never did understand this"

          Usually, it was the people from Windows 2000 hating XP - its interface was a bit too "toy-like" for those used to a simpler one, and some elements (i.e. the windows title bars) took really too much space, especially on smaller displays like laptops. Many returned to the older interface.

          I eventually settled on the "Zune" theme, which, despite its name, was a nice black/orange theme with simpler bars and smaller windows icons, and a better overall look.

        2. WallMeerkat Bronze badge
          Big Brother

          Re: I dont miss it

          Fond memories of 2000, the business-like operating system that had the nice parts of Windows 98 UI, but a rock solid foundation, before the fisher price desktop of XP.

      2. M man

        Re: I dont miss it

        LIE!, win95 didnt boot that fast.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: I dont miss it

      I remember discovering cywin and being amazed my programs ran fine compiled under that but almost exactly the same code bombed on 98.

  2. John 110

    Happy...

    ...birthday dear Register (etc)

    1. jake Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Happy...

      How many long-term commentards read that as "...dear Register (hic)"?

      Looking forward to another couple decades :-)

  3. Khaptain Silver badge

    Memories

    Autoexec.bat, Config.sys,

    SET SOUND=C:\PROGRAM~1\CREATIVE\CTSOUND

    SET MIDI=SYNTH:1 MAP:E MODE:0

    SETBLASTER=A 220 I5 D1 H5 P330 E620

    REM= By HiSpeed CD-ROM Drive Installation Program 8/5/101

    REM= device=C\ CD-ROM\CDTECH.SYS /d: mscd001/udma2 /v

    DEVICE= C:\HXCD-ROM\CDROM.SYS /D:MSCD001

    LAST DRIVE=M

    At least some of the Greybeards here, must remember the battles that arose from IRQ confilicts...

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Memories

      You say that - I was around in that era. And my batch files for boot really pushed the boundaries of what was possible (PC Magazine AMENU, CHOICE, 4DOS, etc. etc. etc.), we were constantly shoving hardware in and out (ah, the joys of top-opening hinged, unlocked PC beige cases!) and yet I never once had an IRQ conflict. It's not hard... Soundblaster on 7, everything else on default (given that you went for IRQ 5, and CDROM.SYS there's your problem!).

      P.S. I had a boot menu, from which you then selected a config, which then loaded config.sys/autoexec.bat as appropriate, and you could get anything from 638Kb of free RAM (with just mouse and MSCDEX and a lot of loading-high and other tricks if I remember rightly) through to a FORTRAN environment with RAMDisk, EMM386, etc., on especially for certain versions of Windows (3.1, 3.11 with networking , etc.) and a handful of specific-game ones that were really finicky about exact configurations to work properly. Even one for a parallel-port daisy-chain which, with the right TSR, pretended to be a (slow) IPX-capable Ethernet card which we used to game over using Quake! We upgraded to 10Base2 and then T eventually, though...

      It was hilarious on an IRC forum once when someone tried to convince my brother that he'd got into our computer and "could read our AUTOEXEC.BAT". Go on, then, we said. Show us. He just copy/pasted the default MS-DOS one, and we fell about because our AUTOEXEC at that point called something like 20+ other batches files and had text menus and all sorts in it. Obviously he wanted us to "run this program that I'll DCC you to fix everything so other people can't get in".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Memories

        "Even one for a parallel-port daisy-chain which, with the right TSR, pretended to be a (slow) IPX-capable Ethernet card "

        I wrote several int14 TSRs that intercepted applications' serial port only connections. They made them more useful via NDIS for LAN communications - or for back-to-back comms between applications on the same PC etc.

      2. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Memories

        > the joys of top-opening hinged, unlocked PC beige cases

        Remember cases where the motherboard and expansion card slots slid out on a tray? Ah, that was the life.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Memories

          > the joys of top-opening hinged, unlocked PC beige cases

          I was on YTS and left school when I saw my first IBM AT 286 PC. You switched it on and it counted the installed memory. Wow! 2048KB... It was used for testing ISA graphics cards, so was inconstant use. It was about a year before I discovered that it even had a case!

    2. Zippy's Sausage Factory

      Re: Memories

      At least some of the Greybeards here, must remember the battles that arose from IRQ confilicts...

      /me hides under desk, quivering. Occasional light sobbing.

      1. Davegoody

        Re: Memories

        Ohhhhhh..... trying to get an Adaptec SCSI controller working with a Soundblaster, and two Parallel ports on the same machine was a source of much hair-pulling, and juggling of IRQs. I still have nightmares of losing the little black jumpers to change IRQ just as I needed them. How things have changed - Mostly for the better, and though I am mainly a Mac user these days, I still sort of miss those days, and if you could troubleshoot (successfully) back then, then not much phases your since.....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Memories

      Your SET BLASTER line is missing T6 ;)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Memories

      >At least some of the Greybeards here, must remember the battles that arose from IRQ confilicts...

      And people whine about pulseaudio, don't know their born.

    5. Agamemnon

      Re: Memories

      Can't decide if I'm impressed or horrified you hammered that out.

    6. wallaby

      Re: Memories

      "At least some of the Greybeards here, must remember the battles that arose from IRQ confilicts..."

      remember them !!

      I was having one with a Win98 install last year - a 15 year old GC (that's gas chromatograph) that only runs with software written for Win 98. The card causing me all the problems had memory settings set by dip switches on the board.

      Hardest part wasn't getting it working, it was getting my brain remembering to remember what id not done in so many years.

      1. Binraider666

        Re: Memories

        Are those win98 chromatographs still going?! I recall validating them a few years ago on on a large industrial site.

        1. wallaby

          Re: Memories

          I have 3 out there I have to look after, still going strong, hardest part if finding spares for the PC's

          managed to virtualise some of the instruments that use Ethernet or USB connections, the ones with bespoke cards are the issue

    7. LeeE Silver badge

      Re: Memories

      "Longtime readers will also note that 1998 saw The Register lumber online."

      Ahh! - the good old days, when El Reg journos knew what they were talking about, and used to proof read their articles before posting them.

    8. Cpt Blue Bear

      Re: Memories

      "At least some of the Greybeards here, must remember the battles that arose from IRQ confilicts..."

      Not if you knew what you were doing and by the time I had a Soundblaster* , a NIC**, a serial card and a "Hi-Speed" IDE controller playing nicely together I bloody well did.

      All of which was 10 years before Windows 98 reared its ugly head. By the end of the 90s you really should have sprung for PnP (Plug and Pray) gear, you cheapskates.

      * And none of your fancy SB16 nonsense, please. This was an ISA card with jumpers to set.

      ** A NE2100 clone that came in a white box with a red diagonal stripe or maybe a red box with a white diagonal stripe. I miss the days when PC parts came in small, sturdy plain boxes that looked like spare parts boxes, not huge things full of air with pictures of half naked barbarians and and spaceships all over them. Not that I have any problem with half naked barbarians, they have their place just not on the box for electronic parts.

  4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    The ONLY things going for it were

    1) No Tiles

    2) No forced updates

    3) No slurping.

    Other than that is was mostly a POS especially wrt BSOD's.

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge

      Re: The ONLY things going for it were

      Pardon me for being too young to have any relevant experience*, but the stories I've heard were that '98 was the good one when compared to '95 and would be the gold standard of Windows Operating systems until XP was released.

      *I only just remember "It is now safe to turn off your computer"

      1. defiler Silver badge

        Re: The ONLY things going for it were

        '98 was the good one when compared to '95

        Yeah, sort of. But it was a bit of a Hobson's Choice. 95 was like having somebody stamp on your jaw, while 98 was like having somebody stamp on your hand. ME was like having somebody stamp on your balls, then the jaw, then the hand...

        I bailed out to NT4 around the time ME came along.

        1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: The ONLY things going for it were

          ME was like having somebody stamp on your balls, then the jaw, then the hand...

          ME is one of the few Windows OSes I never have had to support professionally (from Windows 2 to current iterations). I did get on it once at my in-laws'. They had an issue and since I was handy they asked if I would have a look. I stopped looking when I started to develop an eye twitch.

          1. JW 1

            Re: The ONLY things going for it were

            >>They had an issue and since I was handy they asked if I would have a look. I stopped looking when I started to develop an eye twitch.<<

            I made a good deal of money during a year where people needed help with ME machines. I'd tell them, I'll wipe your machine and install 98SE but won't help with ME. Probably 20 people in the company I worked for took me up on that. You could buy a sound card and get 98SE media cheap.

        2. LDS Silver badge

          "I bailed out to NT4 around the time ME came along."

          I switched to NT4 before 98 came along. I was just hired as a junior programmer, and given a 95 machine I was debugging a nasty program with a bug which hung the PC while I was trying to pinpoint the cause. Everytime it happened, I had to reset, wait for the reboot, and then restart everything and try to recreate the bug. It was exhausting, especially when 95 decided it needed a disk check.

          Until I asked a senior colleague to help - he was running NT4 and I saw he could open Task Manager, kill the offending application, and restart debugging. I went to my boss and told him I had an "absolute need of NT4 to debug the application in time", luckily backed by my colleague (for some strange reason the authorization had to came from the CEO assistant!).

          Since then, I replaced my home PC with one able to run NT4 - the only issue was games, many didn't run with the older DirectX version supported by NT4 - after all it was a bonus, I spent more time improving my programming skills than gaming...

          I've mostly see 98 only as a deployment platform for customers, and never loved it.

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: "I bailed out to NT4 around the time ME came along."

            "I've mostly see 98 only as a deployment platform for customers, and never loved it."

            Me too. I never understood the claim that NT4 needed more resources. If anything, it was the reverse: 9x was a complete dog in less than 16MB.

            It was also a dog's breakfast internally, so if you had any say in your development platform you'd dual-boot. Get the application working on NT, where you had a debugger worthy of the name, and then test on 9x to find the platform dependencies. (With a little experience and care, those were pretty minimal.)

            I'd adopted a similar approach a few years earlier with 3.x. I would build the 32-bit version and get it working on NT. Then I'd flick some compiler switches and test the 16-bit build on DOS (er, I mean, Windows 3.1x). Again, with a little experience, you learned the safe subset and this process was pretty well-behaved.

            Basically, for most of the 90s, the trick was to do whatever it takes to avoid having to develop on DOS-based Windows. Happily, eventually our userbase realised what we had known for a decade or so -- DOS was shit and NT was both faster and leaner than they had read in the magazines, as well as being several thousand times less crash-prone. (That's no exaggeration, by the way. NT 3.x blue-screened on me about once in ten years. It's DOS cousin would usually roll over at least a day. You can do the maths yourself.)

        3. PeteA
          Linux

          Re: The ONLY things going for it were

          OS/2 Warp holdout here, until finally forced to admit defeat and use XP. Soon changed to SuSE though... then through lots of experimentation and distro-hopping to a stable environment with Windows relegated to a VM :).

        4. bobajob12 Bronze badge

          Re: The ONLY things going for it were

          Am I mis-remembering, or was NT 3.51 quite a bit more stable than NT4 until SP3 came out? I was running 3.51 in a research lab and that baby was a tank. Then again, it was probably running on better hardware (Compaq from the days when Compaq was expensive and worth every penny.)

          1. JW 1

            Re: The ONLY things going for it were

            >>Am I mis-remembering, or was NT 3.51 quite a bit more stable than NT4 until SP3 came out?<<

            If I remember right, NT4 was mostly 3.51 with a 'slicker' front end. SP's made it better of course.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "NT4 was mostly 3.51 with a 'slicker' front end."

              No, for example it moved the graphics code in the kernel - performance improved, but it also led to many issues in the beginning because drivers had to be rewritten and bad ones would BSODs easily.

              I don't remember if NT4 also introduced domains and domain controllers, or if those were available earlier.

              1. defiler Silver badge

                Re: "NT4 was mostly 3.51 with a 'slicker' front end."

                No, for example it moved the graphics code in the kernel - performance improved, but it also led to many issues in the beginning because drivers had to be rewritten and bad ones would BSODs easily.

                This. Pre-SP3 NT4 choked on the ATI video drivers all the time. In fact, most video drivers demanded SP3 before you could install them. Even the supremely vanilla cards in servers.

                Got all the way to SP6a in the end...

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The ONLY things going for it were

              The massive architectural change was NT4 moved (video) drivers into kernel space. NT 3.51 ran them in user space, which was slow but reliable.

          2. Mage Silver badge

            Re: NT 3.51 quite a bit more stable than NT4

            The issue was GDI moved to Kernel to speed up video & animation and Direct X. Really stupid. With decent GFX hardware & printers and good drivers, the BSOD was very rare on NT4.0. Non-existent on NT 3.5 & NT3.51 unless faulty HW.

            NT 3.51 was just the fake extra APIs added to NT3.5 due to MS deliberately ensuring MS Office 95 wouldn't run on WFWG3.11 etc, Many 32bit NT apps ran on Win32s on WFWG3.11. Like Win3.1x, Win95 & Win98 couldn't create Named Pipes, only connect as a client. So the same NT3.5x apps that didn't work on Win32s, didn't work on Win9x/ME.

          3. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

            Re: The ONLY things going for it were

            Loved 3.5.1 - old school Win 3.1 style interface, but you could amaze your colleagues by firing up a then-modern Office 97 :D

            (That was why Office 97 drew it's own controls)

            Some 95/NT4/Win32 software ran nicely, mostly those that didn't use the new APIs.

      2. }{amis}{ Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: The ONLY things going for it were

        the gold standard of Windows Operating systems until XP was released.

        Win 2k peed all over every other MS os well into xp's lifespan for getting actual work done just because it had the decent kernel and UI and less of the power-sapping bloat that the consumer-targeted OS's have.

        I personally didn't move over to XP from 2k for quite a while just because I couldn't afford the ram required for a long time.

        1. N2 Silver badge

          Re: The ONLY things going for it were

          Yes, I ran 2K well to 2010 most of the other versions were bloated, power sapping, gilded turds.

          I suppose 7 was OK, but my 2K box was so reliable, loved it warts 'n all.

      3. Kimo

        Re: The ONLY things going for it were

        I kept 98 SE until XP Service Pack 3 made XP usable. The initial XP release was also a mess, and the experience with 98 and XP trained many people to avoid Windows versions until after at least the first service pack.

        1. Agamemnon

          Re: The ONLY things going for it were

          I have hear, and said "Wait for Service Pack 1" as Straight Gospel so many times from 98 until Vista (no Service Pack could save that blight).

          If you had Real Work™ to get done, one pretty much had to.

          1. Mage Silver badge

            Re: Vista (no Service Pack could save that blight).

            Win7 should have been free to Vista users. It was the SP.

        2. trog-oz

          Re: The ONLY things going for it were

          I kept 98 SE until XP Service Pack 3 made XP usable.

          I always felt SP3 slowed it down too much and XP SP2 was a point at which M$ should have stopped developing o/s, the other being W3.1 and W2000 (with service packs). NT4 wasn't bad, mostly because it didn't do anything.

          After XP, IMO M$ o/s's got more and more bloated and slower and slower. I did some bench marking once and found W7 ran a quarter the speed of XP and W8.1 a twentieth.

          As to W98, I had to upgrade my relatively stable W95 machine to it, and the box was never the same. Crashed several times a day.

      4. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: The ONLY things going for it were

        '98 was the good one when compared to '95 and would be the gold standard of Windows Operating systems until XP was released.

        I think you are confusing 98 with 98SE - released May 5, 1999.

        The next solid one was W2K-SP4 followed by XP-SP3.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: The ONLY things going for it were

          95 was a revolutionary change, it's to be expected that it would be a bit buggy. 98 was an upgrade from 95, but I would dispute that it was worth waiting 3 years for that benefit.

          I still have a soft spot for 95, relative to 98. It's like - Vista to 7. I loathed Vista with a violent passion, but it had this much excuse: that it was at least trying to be something different. 7 learned (and benefited) from Vista's mistakes.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: The ONLY things going for it were

            95 was a revolutionary change, it's to be expected that it would be a bit buggy

            Yet other windowing systems didn't have this problem, on a fraction of the resources...

            But look at the requirements for W98 now which was considered bloated in its day and compare to today's Windows, and ask yourself what's really different (apart from TIFKAM).

          2. Davegoody

            Re: The ONLY things going for it were

            Yes, but don't forget the abomination that was WindowsME. It was basically Windows 98, but with GUI access prioritised in the boot-up sequence. It gave the impression of having a UI far quicker than it actually was, as thought the UI was present, it was completely unusable until the rest of the subsystems had loaded. Even when the UI was present it was so flaky that it often took multiple reboots before it was actually possible to do any work (or play games).....

          3. Mage Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: 95 was a revolutionary change

            No, it wasn't little more than Win3.x with Explorer shell, updated Win32s, replacement for VFW and bundled 32bit drivers. The 32bit TCP/IP was optional, and essentially the same.

            NT 3.1 was MS's big change. The Explorer shell was even available as a tech preview for NT3.51.

            The NT3.51 & Win3.x File manager was superior to Explorer's file manager and still worked on NT4.0 even without Progman shell.

            Explorer's file manager got worse with Win7 and is horrible in Win10.

      5. jake Silver badge

        Re: The ONLY things going for it were

        No. The gold standard for Windows OSes was (and still is!) NT2K ... followed closely by the various iterations of OS/2.

      6. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: The ONLY things going for it were

        I tweeked that on our installations.

      7. Mage Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Win 98 gold standard of Windows

        Nonsense. Only if you wanted games or software incompatible with NT.

        Win 95 only advantage over WFWG 3.11 (properly installed with Win32S, VFW, 32bit TCP//IP and 32 bit disk drivers) was the Explorer desktop. NT3.x was best MS server OS in that era and NT4.0 in 1996 was what Win9x should have been. Win9x no security AT ALL. Cancelling login screen only blocked you from LAN server. Win9x encouraged a rash of bad software that on NT4.0, Win2K, XP and Vista could only run under Admin log in, or didn't work at all.

        Success of Win9x for other than games held back security & decent program development for nearly 10 years.

      8. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: The ONLY things going for it were

        Pardon me for being too young to have any relevant experience*, but the stories I've heard were that '98 was the good one when compared to '95 and would be the gold standard of Windows Operating systems until XP was released.

        It wasn't bad really, as long as you stuck with a couple of basic rules:

        • Never ever, ever, ever apply an in-place OS upgrade. Want to upgrade from Win95 to Win98? Start with a blank hard disk. The same goes for the upgrade from Win98 to Win98SE, although that was a little less painful and anything to Windows ME, or just ME in general was best avoided. The most unstable instance of Windows XP I ever came across was one that started life as Win98, the Win98SE, them WinME and finally a much suffering WinXP.
        • Never install the Internet software stack from AOL, or Compuserve (and doubtless a few others). The bundle of crud combined with appalling installers and appalling assumptions was enough to ruin many a PC. Later this changed to never use a USB modem or ADSL adaptor, for similar reasons.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The ONLY things going for it were

      And being able to get online easily.

      Decent selection of software

      Good(ish) hardware support

      Compared to the POS that Linux was at that time.

      1) Crap DE's

      2) Very little office software, and NO, StarOffice doesn't count

      3) No multimedia software worth talking about

      4) Really Crap hardware support

      5) A nightmare to set up modems

      And on and on and on

      1. AJ MacLeod

        Re: The ONLY things going for it were ( @AC )

        1998 was when I dumped Windows for good and switched to Linux full time... Point 1 is utter nonsense: KDE was already vastly superior in usability, flexibility, reliability and sheer functionality than any version of Windows Explorer until Win 7 (and even then it was superior in some ways.)

        Enlightenment made Windows look like something from the stone age and ran incredibly smoothly even on limited hardware.

        Point 2 - It may not have had the same range of MS Office copycat equivalents, (though why on earth shouldn't StarOffice count? I used it and it was fine... also WP8 a little later on which was sadly not as good as the Windows version.)

        On the other hand, there were many other routes to document creation from a different school of thought - LyX already existed to make LaTeX more accessible and was far better than Word for my (academic) purposes.

        Point 4 is mostly nonsense - true, there were specific abominations like WinModems and WinPrinters appearing around this time - (although I had both, and within a year or so both were quite well supported.) Already though, the sheer range of hardware supported was beginning to be extremely impressive - particularly since most of it was done by parties other than the device manufacturers.

        Point 5 - modems were a breeze to set up, unless they happened to be cheap junk masquerading as modems but missing most of their important parts. Even then, many of them could be persuaded to work with a little extra effort - probably better spent on obtaining a half reasonable device in the first place though.

        And on and on and on - 20 years later I wouldn't dream of running anything else on my own PCs - I waste enough of my day getting paid to fix endless Microsoft induced problems, I have no intention on having to do that after work too!

        1. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

          Re: The ONLY things going for it were ( @AC )

          Going to have to disagreee. I'm a Linux fan but it wasn't until the mid 2000s that I found it was rock solid.

          There were always issues with hardware

          - display drivers

          - modems

          - network cards - in particular wifi cards

          Then the software. Yes we got OpenOffice, but original builds were as unreliable as Windows 98 - I lost at least one typed report due to an OOo crash.

          Trying to get software to integrate nicely with the KDE/Gnome launchers.

          Trying to install/update something and landing in dependency hell.

          Eclipse did give Linux a great DE (for those of us who need more handholding than VIM :) )

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: The ONLY things going for it were

        AC goes: "on and on and on"

        Yep. And it's getting monotonous. It wasn't true then, it isn't true now, and it won't be true no matter how many times you say it. I can't tell if you're a very bad troll or an out-and-out Microsoft shill. It's been 20 years and your kind are still not doing anything useful. Worse, you're boring, all of you. Give it up already.

      3. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: The ONLY things going for it were

        1) Gnome and KDE were in the early stages or even a glint in someones eye, but FVWM was around (and WindowMaker) and these must have been mature by then as they've hardly changed.

        2) You mean LaTex, Vi or Emacs aren't good enough?

        3) No, but neither had anything much (I do recall the fun of compiling and optimising Xine by hand a year or two later, and gotten OSS working.

        4) Well, yes (see 5)

        5) Mainly with Winmodems. If you had one, give up and buy a decent hardware one, they generally weren't that expensive (unless you had no option but for a PCMCIA one).

        6) Still more fun than Windows. Learn to love using a computer again without feeling degraded, inhibited or patronised by 'wizzard' dialogs or poorly animated puppies or anthropomorphised paperclips.

        1. AJ MacLeod

          Re: The ONLY things going for it were

          Teiwaz: KDE reached version 1.0 in 1998, although I started with a pre-release version and it was already really very good as I mentioned.

          Having said that, as I gradually found my way around Linux I later switched to WindowMaker and use it to this day on my main PC - stability and responsiveness never get old!

          1. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: The ONLY things going for it were

            A J MacLeod :

            Sorry, too lazy to look up when Gnome and KDE came into being, and over-paranoid about factoring in actual uptake - forgot that when I started on 'Linux late '99 it was already on KDE 2.

            WindowMaker not old?

            The main body of the WM still works, but looks dated, but the WM-Apps widgets are truly dusty, they're like a dusty old telegraph station in a 'old west' ghost town, half the distros I've tried it on they either don't compile or the backends are extinct.

            When WindowMaker was resuscitated a few years back, I thought the first thing would be updating those.

      4. bobajob12 Bronze badge

        Re: The ONLY things going for it were

        The irony was, that without all that stuff (I'm talking RH4, maybe kernel 1.2.13?) Linux was the thing at the other end of your modem supplying the Internet. Those GeoCities pages had to live somewhere after all.

        That and the freeBSD box that ran cdrom.com for years....

      5. Denarius Silver badge

        Re: The ONLY things going for it were

        Linux having bad hardware support in 98 and later ? YGTBK. Used Linux, usually RedHat, often to identify feral unmarked hardware that Windows would not touch. YMMV but my Delphi, COBOL, VisualCobol and VB6 coding did not generate BSODs.

        Agree that Win2K was a great OS for theWindows world. Nowhere near the memory leaks that plagued NT4 and much lighter hardware demands than WinXP. Never really liked OS2. Have install CDs still but no hardware old enough.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "YMMV but my Delphi, COBOL, VisualCobol and VB6 coding did not generate BSODs"

          BSODs are triggered at the kernel level, by something happening when kernel code is executed and a non- recoverable fault occurs. They are the equivalent of a kernel panic. The system stops to avoid further damage.

          Triggering them from user code may be not easy, unless calling into some libraries which have a kernel counterpart, and some bug there. Pure user code may cause other issues, but usually not a BSOD.

          Languages like Delphi also had good exception handling, an OO GUI frameowork that hid most API calls, and automatic string management, so unless you did weird operations with pointers yourself it was very difficult to create havoc in the system. VB was even more sandboxed, you'd probably need a badly written OCX to create troubles.

          As per Linux hw support, especially in the early days.... let's not talk about it.

      6. M man

        Re: The ONLY things going for it were

        ndiswrapper! oh god forgot how that blew my mind!

        Its all a matter off perspective.

    3. Tinslave_the_Barelegged Silver badge

      Re: The ONLY things going for it were

      At least at the Windows 95 launch, we had the coolness of the little Logitech scanner, a miracle for those fighting with SCSI, or worse, serial, scanners. But maybe it was just the cracking music from Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians that made it acceptable.

      My goodness, I feel old.

    4. Mage Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: The ONLY things going for it were

      It was a games console. So was Win95.

      We used NT4.0 Workstation for real work and NT 3.51 server with WFWG 3.11 clients before NT4.0 came out.

      It was shameful the way MS and businesses promoted Win9x/ME to BUSINESSES on NEW computers from 1996 to 2001.

      I still have a laptop from 2000 that multiboots DOS 6.2, WFW3.11, Dos7, Win98SE and Win2000, though till about 2005 it had NT4.0 and Red Hat Linux. Win98 needed for programming old Sat boxes and DOS for Motorola Radios. Though I have neither of those now. 1400 x 1050 screen and mobile PIII 450MHz CPU. The Win2000 runs better on it than Win10 on Linx1010.

  5. Chewi

    The all-important Second Edition

    If you didn't have the pleasure of trying both editions, the Second Edition was a hell of a lot more stable although I am obviously speaking in relative terms. ;-)

    1. bobajob12 Bronze badge

      Re: The all-important Second Edition

      @Chewi, Are we still talking about Windows, or has the conversation moved on to spouses?

      1. Chewi

        Re: The all-important Second Edition

        Unfortunately migrating to a Second Edition spouse is often hampered by vendor lock-in.

  6. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Those were the days my friend.

    "Windows 98 is regarded as the pinnacle of the Windows 9x era, with an update shipping the following year in the form of Windows 98 SE (Second Edition) including a number of minor enhancements such as the inclusion of Internet Explorer 5".

    I recall significant improvements for 98SE were far better support for USB devices, DVD support plus Internet Connection Sharing. It was a long time ago but I recall it being a more major upgrade than is being suggested.

    Those were the days when people welcomed Windows 'improvements' and I recall 98SE being roundly applauded by near everyone. How things have changed.

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Those were the days my friend.

      Yes, let's be fair to it - it was a significant improvement, especially SE. Still, as a gamer you still got used to reinstalling Windows every 4 months or so to speed everything up. NT managed to get rid of that - sure it was a bit slower, but it managed to maintain the same speed long-term.

      Kids these days, and all that...

      Edit - oh, and I also bought OS/2 Warp. Did a great job, and was rock solid. I was even able to play System Shock and Descent smoothly in DOS windows. Say what you will about IBM these days, but OS/2 blew Windows out of the water for a long, long time.

      1. Credas Silver badge

        Re: Those were the days my friend.

        Difficult to believe now, but those were also the days when punters still queued up at the local computer store to get their hands on a boxed retail copy on release day! A bit like Apple in recent years, but without the yays, high-fives, and eye-watering credit card bill the following month.

  7. Alan Bourke

    Welp, it was better than 95 and ME ...

    ... but let's hear it for the NT kernel.

  8. wolfetone Silver badge

    Simply the worst Windows I ever used, and I used Windows ME.

    1. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
      Windows

      Simply the worst Windows I ever used, and I used Windows ME.

      Did those responsible for vast economical damage and many lost lives ever face a court of law?

  9. adam payne Silver badge

    Built many a PC with 98 and 98SE.

    Happy Birthday Windows 98

  10. Binraider666

    Still in service... in both industry and with retro gaming!

    Alarmingly, I am aware of several high value commodity metering installations still running instances of Win98. Presumably their uptime is not regarded as terribly important?

    In fairness to 98SE; it was arguably the most compatible OS for gaming purposes in it's day. I alternated between 98SE and 2K for games and productivity. While the former was a pain to maintain, there was not a title in the land I could not get running on it. It's often the only thing that will manage early directX titles. Now I'll admit, there's not many of those are worth returning to, but try get Interstate '76 running on anything else? Maybe one or two other standout titles.

    I recall an interview on GOG commenting on the those early directX and 3DFX titles by far being the most difficult ones to get running on a modern system. Virtualisation isn't exactly well supported for in these niche environments!

    1. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

      Re: Still in service... in both industry and with retro gaming!

      Have a lot of fond memories of DirectX/3Dfx/Glide games of the late 90s that I just can't run anymore, or if they run they run with graphical artefacts.

  11. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    It had games!

    As someone who had used Macs for almost the entire decade, games like Quake II and Half Life were the killer app for me (oh, and ASP too). That and the fact that you could buy an OEM PC with a good graphics card for half of the price of an iMac.

    I was so happy to be able to replace Win 98 with NT 4.0 and soon after Windows 2000. I found Windows 98 unstable (but I was used to System 7 on the Mac, so it was no big deal) and ugly, but the worth it for the games.

  12. Portent

    At least it was better than...

    Windows ME

    1. Zippy's Sausage Factory
      Joke

      Re: At least it was better than...

      To be fair, being stabbed in the face with a fork was better than Windows ME.

      1. Vince

        Re: At least it was better than...

        I was given a copy of Windows ME by Microsoft when I attended some event back in the day. It is still, to this day, in the shrink wrap, unopened and unused.

        I mean why would you use it when Windows 2000 rocked up.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: At least it was better than...

          That's because Win ME was preinstalled on many PCs back then, and ordinary Joe users simply used what was preinstalled. As long as it played games, connected to the Internet, opened emails, ran ICQ and mIRC they're satisfied.

          Win 2K was more for the enterprise folks.

  13. Lee D Silver badge

    And if you can't see that Metro is just Active Desktop all over again, then you haven't looked.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Metro's real progenitor

      Is arguably the Web Slice feature introduced in Internet Explorer.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_Slice

  14. Alan J. Wylie Silver badge

    Active Desktop, which allowed HTML content (such as news headlines) to be shown on the user's desktop at the cost of prodigious amounts of CPU and RAM.

    And bandwidth. I can remember one cow-orker enabling it, which rapidly became apparent when we looked at the ISDN logs and discovered that his desktop, left on overnight, had been connecting every few minutes, bringing the line up over and over again, incurring a call charge every time.

  15. Wolfclaw Silver badge

    There's no patty, like a Vista party ... just bring the morphine !

  16. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

    Not bad in the long run

    My first experience with 98 was the CD-ROM catalog computer at my uncle's hardware store, and I thought it was shit, to put it bluntly. (Although having the catalog on CD-ROM instead of a dozen volumes of paper was nice. I remember having to update the paper ones...)

    It was over a year (2, 3, 5?) later that the CD-ROMs were deprecated and all catalog work was to be done through the corporate web-based extranet. (He also moved from dial-up to DSL.) At that time, he finally let me clean up the machine because the web browsing was so much slower than the CD. Turns out that Windows was okay, and the specs were fine (nothing else on the machine, really) -- it was MacAfee being a total pain since day one. Once I figured out how to remove it without nuking the whole thing, things got a whole lot better. (Yes, riskier, but not my problem.)

    Around that time, corporate was also starting to force the franchises to change their POS (point of sale, you gits!) from older systems to a Windows-based full-internet one, making a separate extranet terminal redundant. Not sure if he changed before selling the whole store outright to a rival chain.

  17. oiseau

    W98 and USB support

    Hello:

    USB support came as standard.

    I seem to recall that USB support came as standard with W98SE.

    That there was (?) some crap going on or USB needed something extra in plain W98.

    Cheers,

    O.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: W98 and USB support

      IIRC, didn't really matter at that time.

      USB was still something fairly exotic and a novelty.

      Keyboards and mice used the PS/2 ports. Disk drives used the P-ATA ports.

      It was only at the turn of the millennium (Win ME period) when portable CD writers, USB input devices and USB modems started gaining prominence.

    2. Zarno

      Re: W98 and USB support

      I remember 98 SE had USB 1 support for flash drives, once the proper driver was loaded.

      WIN95B had USB support as well, but I never really played with it.

      I do know WIN2KSP4 on my Thinkpad 600E ran circles around regular-consumer-spec Vista machines of the day. At least for the important things like DOOM, word processing, Autodesk Inventor, and Altera Quartus.

      Fond memories.

      I've never ran XP, VIsta, 8, 8.1, or 10 before on any machine I've owned.

      The bad part being I did run ME for a bit. Once you re-enabled DOS access and tweaked things a bit, you could get it to be slightly less bulimic with the BSOD's...

    3. The answer is 42

      Re: W98 and USB support

      I think it was NT that was due a service pack with USB support, but it was superceded by XP. True?

  18. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Alert

    Ekkkk

    All that talk of win 95 and win 98 has set off my PTSD

    Be quiet or I'll take you all back to .dll hell with me !

    Ah yes the joys of when windows did'nt protect their key files and some random program decides to overwrite a .dll with an older one that does'nt support anything win98 throws at it........ and your PC is dead.

  19. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    I still have a set of Win98SE floppies. I expect many readers remember sitting feeding them one at a time, and having to fetch a spare when the inevitable disk read error occurred.

    1. Jude Bradley

      Did they come in a suitcase of 12?

  20. Franco Silver badge

    Ah, Windows 9x. The joys of writing PIFs to launch MSDOS games, having to reboot if you changed the screen resolution and having to pay extra for an upgrade from a 4X to an 8X CDROM drive.

    I actually had a 98SE PC until about 6 months ago for playing games on, although DOSBOX can handle most things the PC had a 3DFX Voodoo3 in it so was seriously cutting edge for it's time. Made £100 on eBay too.

  21. elDog Silver badge

    Wasn't that around the same time that Linux was going to take over the desktop?

    And I think Linux has done so for a lot of people - at least at the hypervisor level. Now that the hardware and OS implementations allow VMs to run at near full-speed, we can bring up that MSOS whenever we need a bit of relaxation or hilarity.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Wasn't that around the same time that Linux was going to take over the desktop?

      My first daily Linux driver was 0.99PL13 in end of '93. That was the first one I installed myself w/o any help.

      My FVWM config has mutated to the point no one else can use my PC... not a bad thing!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Win 98 SE

    The gold standard of the pre-NT Windows era. Many memorable games released during that period. Internet in its infancy. Advent of 3D games and CD-ROMs (supplanting floppy disks).

    Win XP SP2 was the next gold standard. Followed by Win 7.

  23. earl grey Silver badge
    Facepalm

    i can remember before windows

    Except it was all mainframe stuff. Yeah, i'm old.

    1. Admiral Grace Hopper
      Windows

      Re: i can remember before windows

      Some of us are still working on mainframe stuff. It still does what it's supposed to do, when you ask it to.

  24. Not Enough Coffee

    Happy Birthday Reg.

    You should at least point to the archive.org site:

    http://web.archive.org/web/19980628145626/http://www.theregister.co.uk/

  25. Alister Silver badge

    While Windows NT 4.0 pointed to a future free from MS-DOS, the majority of the Windows user base simply did not have the hardware to run much more than a jumped-up version of Windows 95.

    To be fair, the original NT 4.0 was not really suitable for use as a home O/S, it took quite a few service packs before that was useful, and the price compared to 98 was prohibitive as well.

    Plus, it didn't have drivers for many common domestic peripherals. Even network cards were a bloody nightmare to set up under NT 4.0, I remember fighting with a 3Com Etherlink 3C509, fiddling with dip switches to set the IRQ and memory range for hours before NT would work with it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "the original NT 4.0 was not really suitable for use as a home O/S"

      Depends. It wasn't good for games, and some application, notably WordPerfect, had issues. It is true SP added many missing pieces and improved existing ones.

      Non-PCI cards, i.e. old ISA ones on old motherboards could have been an issue. and you had to explicitly enable Plug&Play. I had really no issue running NT4 on "reputable" hardware (IBM hardware at work, and Asus/3Com/Matrox/Adaptec/Creative at home). Cheap hardware with cheap drivers could have been an issue, the driver model was more complex.

      Price was higher, but the stability, security and process isolation were well worth the price for serious work,even at home.

      1. Sandtitz Silver badge

        Re: "the original NT 4.0 was not really suitable for use as a home O/S"

        "the original NT 4.0 was not really suitable for use as a home O/S"

        "Depends."

        NT4 had poor selection of terminal software for calling BBS's. Even OS/2 beat it at that. My ISDN card didn't have NT4 drivers. It had practically zero games since the DirectX support was noexisting and (working) OpenGL games could be counted with one hand. Quake. And that piss poor DirectX pinball game NT4 included. DOS software beyond scripts and some basic stuff was impossible to run and most home users either played games or used graphical DOS software - which never ran under NT4.

        Docking and hotplugging PCMCIA cards didn't really work and NT had poor power saving features for mobile users. Most business laptops around here ended up using with Win98 (and later on W2K).

        My worst gripe with NT4 was when you installed some built-in functions like IIS or extra network protocols. NT4 duly copied the files from CD but then you needed to apply the latest ServicePack once again. Which was a slooow process.

        "Cheap hardware with cheap drivers could have been an issue, the driver model was more complex."

        My rather expensive S3 968 PCI graphics card had those cheap drivers for NT4. Crashes aplenty. OS/2 didn't have drivers. Win9x support was great, however!

        Also, no matter what people testify here, NT4 needed more RAM than Win9x.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't know

    "While Windows NT 4.0 pointed to a future free from MS-DOS, the majority of the Windows user base simply did not have the hardware to run much more than a jumped-up version of Windows 95"

    At that time I was running Red Hat (it was a cool distro back then) on hardware that didn't have the grunt to run Windows 9X. The impression I got was that in terms of power and functionality it was way beyond NT at the time (could NT even run multiple users concurrently back then?) so I wonder why the Redmond offering would need all that extra hardware, if it wasn't either bloat or some deliberate ploy to get people to buy new hardware.

    (NB: there is bound to be someone who's going to start another childish "my OS" vs "your OS" rant, please don't. I don't give a shit what you run as long as you're happy with your choice, my point is that the hardware requirements did not seem justified by the features available.)

  27. cd

    Dad calls me up...

    "...and it says on the screen that the computer has committed an illegal act!"

    1. Excused Boots

      Re: Dad calls me up...

      But only illegal in some States, all your Dad had to do was move and problem solved!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My fondest memory of Windows 98 SE

    I went to my friend's place for after-school gaming sessions. That special Win98 loading splash screen. He had Microsoft Plus! installed so the sound scheme, wallpaper and cursor were different. The wallpaper was that of a cougar (mountain cat?), and the startup sound was some jungle/tribal sound.

    Marathon sessions of Warcraft 2, Diablo 1, HoMM 3 etc.

  29. heyrick Silver badge

    98(SE) worked well for me

    It was what 95 should have been, had Microsoft cared enough not to push the first rubbish out the door. I started with 95 and hated it, went to 98, then to 98SE which I kept until XPSP2 came around. Rarely a blue screen (unlike 95).

    But, then, if we recall Microsoft had only just moved away from 3.11 with 95, Linux was a total pain to do anything with (especially if you expected graphics to be involved and your video hardware was in any way unusual), it would be another SIX years before Ubuntu turned up, and it was the height of the browser wars (remember those days? when by the time people put "Best viewed with MSIE4.0" graphics on their sites, it was already out of date).

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that, when it came to Windows, Microsoft didn't really need to try very hard. So they expended more effort into trying to rule the internet...

  30. Jude Bradley

    I worked for Gateway support back in the 1990's. It was fun installing the piix4 drivers on Windows 95, before Windows 98 made the job easier by having built-in drivers for it.

    It was fun when the customer started reading back every single message on the installation screen, including "yes" "no" "cancel".

    We used to have a lovely man call us self-titled "The codger from Cornwall". Lovely gent, just wanted a chat now and then.

  31. 89724102172714582892524I7751670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148583659264921

    ReactOS may finally be ready when Windows 7 is killed, NEVER 10!

  32. Oengus Silver badge

    I remember

    I remember spec'ing a brand new PC.

    • Dual PII Xeon 450,
    • SuperMicro motherboard,
    • as much RAM as I could stuff on the motherboard,
    • Dual SCSI controller on board,
    • 2 of the highest speed (and capacity) HDDs I could find,
    • top of the line Sound Blaster card,
    • the best AGP Graphics card I could find that was compatible with the mother board.

    Cost an absolute fortune back in the day. It came with Win 98 SE loaded. I was very happy with that PC for a lot of years (and still fire it up occasionally to run some classic games. It was extremely stable and very rare to have a BSOD.

    Ahhh. the memories.

    1. 89724102172714582892524I7751670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148583659264921

      Re: I remember

      I threw together a similar dual PIII866 and quite honestly, it was the most stable PC I had ever owned, Windows 2k and 98. I still have the dual Compaq SCSI striped drives, have to low level format them every so often, though I haven't for 8 years...

    2. James Turner

      Re: I remember

      That second CPU was completely wasted under Win98. Only the NT-based Windows did anything with more than one CPU.

  33. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Bad Memories

    Bad memories of marginally working OSes, many BSOD for no apparent reason. Weirdly, I had better behavior out of ME than 98. But OS reinstalls were a royal pain trying to run down all the data files and settings as they were scattered everywhere. Usually managed to miss a few.

  34. Walter Bishop Silver badge
    Terminator

    Failure to implement the Java standard?

    "Microsoft trumpeted its Java implementation as being the fastest for Windows. However, a failure to implement the Java 1.1 standard to the satisfaction of Sun Microsystems, the creator of Java, led to a sueball being lobbed in 1997." elReg

    It was never merely a failure to implement the standard, it was a blatent effort to (Mar 2007): wrest control of Java away from Sun?.

    May 1997: "This summer we're going to totally divorce Sun"

    Sep 1997: "Screw Sun, cross-platform will never work. Lets move on and steal the Java language. That said, have we ever taken a look at how long it would take Microsoft to build a cross-platform Java that did work? Naturally, we would never do it, but it would give us some idea of how much time we have to work with in killing Sun's Java."

  35. Mr Dogshit Silver badge

    Anyone else remember the IE 4 Channel Bar?

    No, I thought not.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone else remember the IE 4 Channel Bar?

      Oh yes. at home I had it stripped of its pre set buttons and loaded with desktop shortcuts instead - thats all it was good for.

      One of my managers queried why my home machine (originally a win 95 osr2 box) needed a 3.2 gig HDD or 32 megs of ram, he considered it an excess. I think he was just jealous that I had a 233 mmx while he was still working with a p90

      Still love the soind of that (now long dead) AWE64.

      95 was replaced with a clean install of 98SE along with a scanner and a video blaster webcam and a 3com network card (still have the drivers in a zip somewhere) after that came 2k which along with 7 are about the only versions of windows I felt were any good.

      Now fully iMac and Linux here apart from a single laptop running 7 pro with some specialist car coding sotware on it. (VCDS) which wont run on a VM.

  36. Joe Werner

    This makes me remember two things:

    1) I am getting old (forget that: I am old!)

    2) the time when reinstalling Win98SE (you better did that more or less regularly, at least that was my experience at that time) and I got a BSOD proudly claiming that "a TrueType font has caused a General Protection Failure in the module SETUP.EXE".

    That was the last time I installed a Microsoft OS on my personal PC. Those were for me the dual-boot days, as LaTeX was a major PITA on windows (and MikTeX still sucks, at least the installation scripts for additional packages). Then one day I realised that I had more or less stopped gaming[1] and not booted the Windows partition for a long time...

    [1] a few years later I discovered Dwarf Fortress, which runs under Linux and is a major time sink though I have not yet tried the last two versions

  37. Stuclark

    The days of OSR releases...

    I was working for a MS disti back in the day when 98 was released and remember it well!

    I'd spent the previous month debugging their OEM Pre-Install Routine, otherwise known as the OPK installer; as the MS instructions simply didn't work! For every 5 copies of 98 we sold, we sent out my hand typed *extra* instructions, and never, ever, had an OEM system builder phone up asking how to get it working (unlike our competitors).

    ((I might have made a bit of fuss about this on MS's OEM forums on their fairly new website, and might have had an email from a certain S.Ballmer basically telling me to STFU))

    Win95 had 15 seperate CD releases; the best of which was the penultimate OSR2.1 (OSR2.5 introduced USB support and was as stable as a chocolate teapot). Win98 had 3 releases from memory; the best (for overall stability in our labs) being the initial OSR1; 98SE was OSR2 and was a piece of crap; OSR2.1 was much, much better and was what should have been released to the public (but as was MS's way then, never was!)

  38. Esme

    Windows made me do it..

    ... a (L)user's tale...

    Me and my t'other half had been very happy Amiga users, but as Commodore shot itself in the foot multiple times and support for the platform dwindled, clearly Something Had To Be Done. So we bought a Windows PC,running Win95. What a piece of excrement!

    Joy at its ability to run new games we hadn't seen before soon gave way to frustration at how often it crashed. Don;t get me wrong, the Amiga would go into 'guru meditation' every now and then (usually only when playing games though - it was pretty solid when running applications), but it recovered gracefully and quickly. Not Win 95. I wondered whether there were other operating systems about that'd run on the hardware, bearing in mind I'd been messing about with computers since the days when just about every piece of kit had its own bespoke OS. At that point I didn;t find any alternative.

    Then Win98 came along. I THINK we found that slightly better, then when SE came along, it was much better. But still flaky as hell compared to our experience with Amigas. Then we had WinXP, which was somewhat better again, and I think it was around this time that I came across Linux, and ended up buying a copy of Mandrake Linux. Which was - OK. Very stable, but the only games were the equivalent of Minesweeper etc. I set up our PC to dual-boot, and did anyything important (liek letter-writing) on the Linux side, and played games on the Windows side.

    My partner was quite happy just using Windows, but I persisted in keeping an eye on developments in the Linux world, and to cut a long story short, went fully Linux after a few years (by then we each had our own PCs) and have been using Linux ever since. Not once has Linux lost any of my data, and the games situation just kept on improving.

    Thanks to early versions of Windows being so awful,I missed the horrors of ME and Vista, and all the forcible UI-pratting-about that happened with Windows - except in the workplace. At home, computers were again easy to use, fun and entertaining and also did the important stuff well too. At work, it was the frustrations of being a Windows user or a helldesker for companies using Windows.

    That's not to say that Linux was utterly without problems, but such as I experienced were either caused by myself pratting about, or by things like the KDE revamp, which pushed me into using Xfce instead. But that was the nice thing - I had the option to just install a different UI, an option Windows didn't give me by default. And crashes became a thing of teh past. Stuff Just Worked - and kept on working. I was, and am, a happy (L)user.

    So thank you Windows - for some good games, and for otherwise being so horrid that I sought something better. Happy birthday, cheers!

  39. Fading Silver badge
    FAIL

    Thankfully....

    I managed to avoid owning a machine with any of the win 95 to ME "Operating" Systems. My trusty 486 DX2 (Dos 6.22 Win 3.11) kept me going until I picked up an XP machine (Pentium III). At work was a different story and why 95 was ever put in a corporate environment I'll never know (such innocent times where security consisted of asking people to only ever do nice things).

    I did have the misfortune of having to provide family IT support on a Win 98 SE machine - active desktop crashing, BSOD just because it hadn't BSOD'd for awhile, woeful drivers that caused more BSOD and dial-up internet (28.8) - what a great time to be young.......

  40. Michael Habel Silver badge

    And, yet its still (for me...), a more desirable MicroSoft OS, than Windows X will ever be. Honestly they could have stoped at Windows98 SE for what it was worth. But, I understand why they wanted to just focus on NT(FS), and so in turn let Windows 9x/Me die. Even if it took three different Service Packs to eventually get XP up, and running. But, by that argument, I guess they could also reseruect XP from the dead as well. I know plenty of People who'd welcome it back.

    But, as things stand, I'm already getting comfortable with Linux, cause we all know MicroSoft have nothing with which to replace the aiging Windows 7 with. unless your lucky enough to grab a hold of a valid LST Branch of said Windows X. Which is about the ONLY version of Windows X that's fit to be ran.

  41. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    All I have to say is "Ctrl-Alt-Del".

  42. Craigie Bronze badge

    el reg

    Looking at early el reg versions, it seems the same headline writers are in place today. Good show.

    http://web.archive.org/web/19980628145626/http://www.theregister.co.uk:80/

  43. Hairy Spod

    World Cup

    Diss 98 all you want, but the news tickers for the World Cup and F1 along with the active desktop were all loads better than anything we have today

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    January 1999 -- Windows 98 made me mad....

    ....BSOD all the time in the middle of actual work...around $750 for Windows software licences in the previous year. Bad, bad, bad....

    *

    RedHat 5.2 to the rescue. And I'm writing this using Fedora28/XFCE today. In the intervening years there's been nothing, nothing at all, that I haven't been able to accomplish with RedHat or Fedora.

    *

    My only beef is that the ten or so PCs and laptops I've bought since then have meant being forced to pay the Microsoft tax (handily included in the purchase price of the new PC). Still, a bare metal install of Linux each time makes me feel SO much better!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: January 1999 -- Windows 98 made me mad....

      > My only beef is that the ten or so PCs and laptops I've bought since then have meant being forced to pay the Microsoft tax (handily included in the purchase price of the new PC).

      Buying without an OS installed is a common option in Germany. Elsewhere, I just refuse the Windows licence(s) and get the corresponding discount (which is much less than the OS' retail price, the bundled stuff being an OEM version).

      Back in the day I chased this up with the consumer ombudsman and yes, they cannot refuse to sell you just the hardware, much less force you to enter into a contract with a third party (the OS vendor).

  45. MJI Silver badge

    I liked 98

    Ran DOS apps really well against Netware servers

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows 2000 was the best

    Fast, stable, compatible and usable.

    It's one of the few Microsoft operating systems which has a similar feel to Linux in terms of stability and efficiency.

    That said. Most Microsoft OSes are fine now. You may need to skip the odd one but generally they are pretty good.

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: Windows 2000 was the best

      So is Ten, an odd number? in any case its still worth giving it a pass. But, i guess a return to the Salmon Days of Win98SE & Win2k. are over now. As its more profitable to spy on your LUsers, and sell then Candy Cush Saga instead.*

      While removing things like Chess, and Solitair which had been previously been avalible on earlier versions... But, hay its NOT all a tragidy at least you have DX12 to play with right?

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