Microsoft has issued patches for bugs in Windows Me and 98 SE that affect only the fastest of PCs, bugs that potentially causes data to be lost when a PC running one of these OSes is shut down. However, Microsoft says that the problem, which affects Intel Pentium III or AMD Athlon systems running at 933 MHz or faster, isn't with Windows Me or 98 SE, but with the systems themselves. According to the company, these fast PCs shut down so quickly that the contents of large drive caches cannot be saved to disk in time, sometimes resulting in data loss. Various PC makers have reported problems with Windows Me and their fastest systems since PC Week Labs unveiled the issue during test last week.

"It's not specific to any operating system but has to do with larger hard drive caches in combination with fast processors," says Greg Sullivan, a lead product manager for Windows Me. The company has issued patches for the problem--one for Windows 98 SE and one for Windows Me--to its PC maker partners, but currently has no plans to offer these fixes to the public. Interestingly, the bug does not affect Windows 2000, which features a different (albeit slower) method of shutting down. "We've done work in Windows 2000 to address this and prevent it from happening," Sullivan said.

If you're running a 933 Mhz+ system with ATA-100 hard drives, you should contact your PC maker for the patch. New systems shipping in this configuration will have the patch applied at the factory, but you can also prevent the problem temporarily by turning off power management: To avoid data loss, simply save your work, wait a few seconds, and then shut off the machine