Windows 98 was generally available on June 25, 1988. It was released to manufacturing on May 15,1998. Microsoft sold approximately 58 million licenses for Windows 98.
The average hard disk is now larger and the copying of the CAB files from the CDROM to the hard disk will free the need for the disc to be present when settings are changed. IDE CDROM drives are now widely available that are faster and more stable.
Microsoft had marketed Windows 98 as a “tune-up” to Windows 95, rather than an entirely improved next generation of Windows. Upon release, it was generally well received for its web-integrated interface and ease of use, as well as for addressing issues that had been present in Windows 95, though users had pointed out that it was not significantly more stable than its predecessor.
The Windows 98 desktop is largely a hyperlinked design. Microsoft chose to do this to make Windows more like a website in operation.
Windows 98 also fixed the registry size problem. With Windows 95 it was limited to 64KB. Now the registry can be larger which can allow for more functions being added over time. The old INI file use was already fading rapidly.
Windows 98 introduced the Windows Driver Model (WDM). This fact was not well publicized when Windows 98 was released, and most hardware producers continued to develop drivers for the older VxD driver standard, which Windows 98 supported for compatibility reasons.
Windows 98 also includes DirectX 6. Now that DirectX is a main feature of Windows Microsoft is now updating the SDK with each new Windows release.
FAT16 disks can be converted to FAT32 without formatting. The disk defragmenter also was improved to move important programs to the outer tracks where they are more easily accessed.
USB support is improved with USB 1.1 support. Windows 98 supports USB hubs, USB scanners and imaging class devices. Windows 98 also introduced built-in support for some USB Human Interface Device class (USB HID) and PID class devices such as USB mice, keyboards, force feedback joysticks etc. including additional keyboard functions through a certain number of Consumer Page HID controls. USB 2.0 support was added with an update.
Networking in Windows 98 is much improved with improvements in TCP/IP. Dial up networking was slowly giving way to DOCSIS cable internet and DSL has also been announced. Support for Ethernet is also excellent for workgroups in corporate offices.
WIndows 98 needs at least 16MB of RAM and it runs much better with 32MB. While it can run on a 80486DX266, Windows 98 does better with the Pentium or K6 processors. A VGA or better monitor is needed. Windows 95 and Windows 98 can handle 512MB of RAM. Disks larger than 32GB are also a problem.