Key differences between Win98, ME, and XP?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Glenda 'LadyInRed' writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Thanks for your response. Unfortunately I don't have Windows XP on my computer (I'm still using Windows 98). So, my question to you now is: other than security, what is better about Windows XP? And if I can't use Windows XP, would you recommend that I upgrade to Windows ME? "

My response:

I can't provide you with an exhaustive / comparative list of differences between Windows 98 and XP, but there are a number of obvious differences that I can highlight:

  1. With respect to Windows 98: an announcement was made in December 2003 that Windows 98 will no longer be supported by Microsoft. That means if there is a serious operating system exploit discovered (and hackers are able to penetrate your system over the Internet, for example), Microsoft may or may not release a fix for it -- depending on the severity. After the initial "End of Life" announcement, Microsoft extended "paid incident support" for Win98 until June 2006, but new hotfixes won't be available. A hotfix is a "patch" used to fix serious problems (such as exploits often used by hackers). To quote: " Paid incident support is now available through 30-Jun-2006. Extended hotfix support for Windows 98 and Windows 98 Second Edition ended on 30-Jun-2003. " (Source:
  2. With respect to security, Windows XP is far more secure than Windows 98. Windows XP is also one of the most current versions of Windows, which also means that it is also supported by Microsoft. Having said that, if there is a security exploit discovered in XP, it is usually addressed / corrected by Microsoft within a reasonable amount of time.
  3. If your computer can run Win98, it may not be able to run Windows XP at an efficient speed. Windows XP overhead is about 2x or 3x more than Windows 98. For all intents and purposes: if your computer is more than 5 years old, it may or may not be able to run WinXP. It depends on: how fast the processor is (greater than 500 MHz recommended for WinXP), how much RAM you have (greater than 256 meg recommended for WinXP), and how much hard drive space you have (greater than 10 gigabytes recommended for WinXP).
  4. As for Windows ME: it runs on the same technology of Windows 95 and 98. Windows ME is not as popular as Windows 98 and it has been said that ME has greater incompatibility issues. Windows NT, 2000, and XP all use the same technology for their core functions (also known as the operating system "kernel"). That being said, all future releases of Windows will incorporate the NT technology. It would therefore be a waste of time to upgrade to Windows ME (in my opinion).

Hope that helps!

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