Windows 98 updates will tackle bug
(IDG) -- A bizarre bug that causes some Windows 98 systems to freeze if they have been used for 49.7 straight days will be fixed in forthcoming updates to the operating system, a Microsoft representative said.
Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Windows 98 and OEM Service Release 1 (OSR1) are both due in the second quarter of this year, the representative said. OSR 1, which will be available on new PCs then, went into its second beta release this week.
Also, due to beta testers' complaints that SP1 is too big and unwieldy, Microsoft has eliminated the new features it planned to include in the service pack, and instead will focus only on updates.
"There was a sort of laundry list of features in it, and they're slimming it down because Microsoft has always considered [service packs] to be updates to existing features, not [a vehicle for] new functionality," the representative said.
SP1 likely be available in two forms -- a full download, or in components that users will be able to choose. Users who request the service pack on a CD-ROM will get the full package, the representative said.
Both SP1 and OSR 1 will address a flaw in Windows 98 that causes some systems to freeze if they have been in continuous operation for 49.7 days. The problem, which stems from a timing algorithm in the operating system's vtdapi.vxd file, has not been reported by users, but was discovered by Microsoft, the representative said.
News of the bug, which can be solved by rebooting, was greeted by laughter from Microsoft critics who consider Windows an unreliable operating system.
"Hats off to anyone who was able to keep their Windows system running that long in the first place," one observer quipped. "They probably figured nobody would get 50 straight days out of it anyway."
Bob Trott is InfoWorld's Seattle bureau chief.
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