Stacey Breyfogle, a product manager for Windows 98 at Microsoft, confirmed this week at Spring Comdex that Windows 98 is the end of the line for the Windows line of operating systems. Though Microsoft will provide minor upgrades to Windows 98 over the next few years, all future operating system releases will be based on Windows NT. When Windows NT becomes the defacto operating system--sometime after the release of Windows NT 5.0 in 1999--Microsoft will split NT into two separate business and consumer editions. Windows CE will remain as Microsoft's OS for low-end, non-PC devices, she said.

"The next-generation operating system will be based on an NT kernel," said Breyfogle. "Windows 98 is the last generation of an MS DOS-based system."

Though there's been some confusion lately about the positioning of Windows 98, due to NT 5.0's constant delays, Breyfogle says Windows 98 has a clear role for consumers, not the enterprise.

"The business operating system is absolutely Windows NT," she said. Breyfogle says that 98 is only appropriate for businesses that do not have or cannot upgrade to hardware that will run NT. Typically, NT systems are higher-end than Windows 95 or 98 systems. On the other hand, 98 and NT run much of the same harder, making future upgrades easier.

"If an application runs on NT, it's pretty much going to run on 98," she said. "It makes it easy to write for NT and then test for 98.