Question: Why did Microsoft stop officially supporting Windows 95 and Windows 98 operating systems in January 2004?
The IT Guy says:
Here's yet another illustration of the gap between business and school computing. According to the research firm IDC, only about 20 percent of US businesses are still running Windows95 and Windows98 in early 2004. Many schools, however, tend to use their computers and operating systems much longer than businesses, which tend to upgrade every 3 to 5 years.
The primary reason that support was discontinued is security concerns. Win95 and Win98 send most passwords in the clear. In fact even teacher passwords can be located in files contained in certain local drive directories, especially if access to those files is not blocked with security software.
Thus the continued use of computers with older operating systems like Windows95 and Windows98 is an open invitation to potential hackers, and can make the network as a whole more susceptible to virus attacks. Of course, depending on how hold the computers are, upgrading operating systems may require CPU upgrades, not just RAM upgrades,.
More information about Microsoft's computer "lifecycle" policies is available on Windows Life-Cycle Policy.
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