In the first half of June, Microsoft dropped its Windows 98 Second Edition (SE) on the world, all shrink wrapped and shiny. A few days later and without a formal announcement, Microsoft quietly made available Windows 98 Service Pack 1 (SP1). Microsoft produced the service pack for users and systems administrators who are uninterested in Win98 SE, but who wish to "freshen up \[their\] original version of Windows 98," as the company puts it. SP1 includes all of Win98 SE's fixes and updates, but excludes the software's new features. Win98 SE provides fixes, updates, and the newest versions of Microsoft's Internet software, including Internet Explorer (IE) 5. Win98 SE also offers improved broadband capability and an Internet Connection Sharing utility that lets you access the Internet from several different computers simultaneously through one Internet connection. Users in small workgroups and home users will probably find this sharing feature the most worthwhile. Win98 SE is available as a stand-alone package for $209, as an upgrade from Windows 95 for $109, or as an upgrade from the original Win98 edition for $19.95 plus $5 shipping and handling. SP1 contains every bug fix Microsoft has released to date for Win98, including

* A fix for the bug that sent information about users' system hardware to Microsoft during software registration
* A patch to fix the bug that caused Win98 to crash after 49.7 days of operation
* All current Year 2000 (Y2K) fixes for Win98 and Outlook Express
* Fixes for networking and for the Universal Serial Bus (USB)

Win98 SP1 also includes SP2 for IE 4.01, which includes fixes for various security problems. You can order SP1 from Microsoft on CD-ROM for $5 shipping and handling by visiting http://www.microsoft.com/windows98/highlights/win98update.asp. However, SP1 is not available for download from Microsoft. Unless you need the new features in Win98 SE, you may find that SP1 may improve the stability and security of your Win98 systems.