With 2003 winding to a close, it's almost (finally?) time to bid adieu to Windows 98, the stalwart version of the Windows 9x OS family, and its predecessor, Windows 95. Both OSs will enter a new nonsupported phase of their life cycles after January 16, 2004. Microsoft says it will still offer Win98 critical fixes if the problems are serious enough, however, because hundreds of millions of people worldwide still use this system. "Microsoft will evaluate malicious threats to our customers' \[Win98\] systems on a case-by-case basis, and take appropriate steps," a Microsoft spokesperson said this week. In related news, a new security research paper released this week says that Win98 is a major security threat and recommends that users simply upgrade to XP or Windows 2000 to get better security. "Any Windows 95 or 98-based PC with access to the Internet (including mobiles that leave the company network) should be candidates for migrating to Windows XP or Windows 2000," the report reads. "Companies should also determine if installations of Windows 2000 or Windows XP are covered under a Microsoft Volume Licensing Agreement."