First we were told the plug would be pulled on Windows 98's support on 15th January 2004 including the Second Edition previously excluded from the Christmas 2003 clearout. However business pressure from companies eager to pay Microsoft (MS) for more support, ordinary users whose PCs couldn't handle Windows XP and non-Western emerging markets were all taken into consideration when Redmond giant changed its mind.

Now, Windows 98, the Second Edition and Windows ME support programmes will be terminated in June 2006, rather than the end of the week for the 98s and ME's original switch-off at the end of the year as planned. From now on the tariff is set to seven years per operating system.

In the same week it was announced that Service Pack 2 for Windows XP wouldn't arrive until the summer of 2003 either. The company wants as many bugs as possible removed before the rollout. It may have wanted to axe 98 with its DOS roots under the hood but just like the termination of the 16-year old ISA standard from motherboards by Intel, the worldwide market simply wasn't ready for two years.

It's honestly unusual to praise Microsoft, but it's proof that the recognises the release schedule treadmill can't keep rolling out new Operating Systems ad infinitum- in fact MS aren't selling the Media Centre Edition of Windows XP, designed for lifestyle PCs. By the time these 9x products are finally terminated, the Game-friendly Longhorn OS should be almost ready for release, and Windows XP will approach its fifth birthday.