Operating Systems and their File Systems
Windows 98, Windows 98 SE and Windows ME
There’s allot of irony in the manner in which Microsoft released their Windows® 9x platforms. During the release of their first Windows® version, 95A, Microsoft was heralded for the advances they had achieved with this new operating system, even though it was just a pretty face on an old file system. Then Microsoft announced FAT 32 support, and all of the clamor started all over again. Unfortunately it didn’t last. All of the kudos they had received, especially from customers waiting to upgrade their systems, quickly faded away in 1996 and 1997 when Microsoft decided not to release subsequent versions of Windows® 95 to the general public. Hard disks were getting larger and larger, and demand for FAT 32 support increased significantly, but Microsoft’s regular customers would have no way to obtain FAT 32 support unless they chose to buy a new computer, or at the very least new hardware. Of course, there were some distributors willing to violate Microsoft’s licensing rules and sell it at the retail level, but this did little to alleviate the general distaste with Microsoft. This situation persisted until 1998, when Microsoft released the first version of Windows® 98.
When Microsoft released Windows® 98, they had added a number of improvements to their basic Windows® 95 platform, which included full support for FAT 32, and this version was to be sold in two versions, an OEM version for computer manufacturers and a retail version. One of the better improvements was the ability to convert an existing FAT 16 partition to FAT 32. Of course, Microsoft insured that Windows® 98 would be backwards compatible by providing support for all previous FAT variants.
In 1999, Microsoft released Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows 98 SE, which appeared to be nothing more than glorified bug patches that Microsoft was able to sell as a new product. Remember, this segment is about operating systems and their file systems, and that is our focus here. There were numerous improvements in Windows® 98 and 98SE, but when look behind the scenes, 98 was still tied to DOS. In 2000 Microsoft released their Millennium Edition, Windows® ME, and at that time attempted to convince everyone that DOS had faded into history. Unfortunately ME was just another evolutionary tweak of the Windows® 9x operating systems.
Make no mistake, we acknowledge that there we many features added when Windows® 98 and Windows® Millennium Edition were released, but neither of these releases added any additional file system support. Actually, both had file system problems and limitations buried deeply inside that were soon to surface. You can read about these in our segments, Hard Drive Size Limitations and Barriers, The Basics and Hard Drive Size Limitations and Barriers, In Depth.
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