Microsoft has released the third and final beta of Windows 98, its upcoming successor to Windows 95. According to PC Week, Beta 3 will be released as a "public beta" that will be given to over 100,000 users, similar to the Preview Program that Microsoft used during the Window 95 beta.

Windows 98 Beta 3 adds Windows 3.1 migration features, and many refinements to the existing product base. It follows the Beta 1 and 2 releases by many, many months, and is generally considered to be far behind schedule. The final release of Windows 98 is due in April, 1998.

Stacey Breyfogle, a Windows desktop product manager at Microsoft says that while Beta 3 is the "last major beta" of Windows 98, there will be numerous interim releases before the final version. Due in a February release, for example, is an update to the PC-TV integration feature called Broadcast Architecture.

"The data broadcast portion of the broadcast architecture was not included \[in Beta 3\]. This portion of the OS will accept broadcasts over the Vertical Blanking Interval for Internet data but it was not Beta 3 quality," she said.

Also new in Beta 3: a simpler Tune-up Wizard that accelerates the most-often-used application programs.

"Choosing applications through the Wizard was intrusive and complex so now we've added a log file which watches what users do, and collects data in the background," said Breyfogle