The new operating system was essentially an updated version of Windows 95, and like that earlier version, it was a hybrid 16-bit/32-bit product. Windows 98 had improved AGP support and functional USB drivers. Other features included multiple monitors and WebTV support. Internet Explorer was further integrated into the Windows code, and even into the GUI (a change which was called Active Desktop).
Windows 98 was substantially larger and slower than Windows 95 and the original release had a significant number of compatability and stability issues. Although the upgrade sold well from the outset, the consensus amongst computer professionals was that it was a rather mixed blessing.
Windows 98 SE (Second Edition) was released on June 10, 1999. It included a number of significant improvements on the original, notably fixes for many minor issues and the replacement of Internet Explorer 4 with the acclaimed Internet Explorer 5. Also added was Netmeeting 3, rudimentary internet connection sharing, and support for DVD-ROM.
Windows 98 was criticised for not being innovative enough. Despite this criticism it went on to be a successful product. The second edition was criticised for not being a free upgrade for those who already had the first edition.
Controversy erupted in 2003 and early 2004, as Microsoft planned to discontinue its “Extended Support” for Windows 98 on January 16, 2004. However, due to the continued popularity of the operating system (27% of Google's pageviews were on Win98 systems in October-November, 2003), Microsoft decided to keep support running until June 30, 2006. Support for Windows Me will also end on that date, although it was originally scheduled to end on December 31, 2004.