Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Still running Windows 98? You're at higher risk of problems with malware and diminishing support from software vendors. I'll look at what to consider.
I am having problems finding an antivirus for Windows 98 (Sorry, but it still works for what I need). AVG discontinued support for Windows 98, so I switched to Avast. And now Avast sent me an email saying "Windows 98 is no longer supported." I'm also concerned about downloading some malware from a site that offers free antivirus. Am I condemned to getting a new computer? I can get a rebuilt computer with Windows XP installed) at a local computer store. Or should I just buy a new one with Windows 7? I really do not like Microsoft's profit system of coming out with a new OS every 2 years. Has Linux improved since your last update? My son runs Linux on the net, and he downloads Utube, etc. fast.
While I disagree with your assessment of Microsoft's motives, whether we agree or disagree the bottom line is that at some point it's just time to move on.
It's probably past time.
There are some real risks now to continuing to run Windows 95, 98 or Me. Unless you're in some very specific situations, something else is called for.
I also wouldn't call it "condemned", unless faster and safer and more capable is your idea of hell.
As you've seen, software vendors are dropping support for Windows older 9x versions (95, 98 and Me). I'm surprised that the ones you mention hung on as long as they did. For various reasons, it's a lot of extra work and expense to keep those old versions running. I'm sure they feel that their efforts are better spent on more current versions that are being used by more people. I can't say I disagree.
Microsoft dropped support for Windows 9x some time ago, pretty much for the same reasons. It's significant extra cost and work for an ever dwindling number of users.
The upshot is that you're vulnerable. Vulnerable to malware of various sorts. Even with a working anti-virus package, you're still vulnerable as those versions of Windows are simply not getting fixed any more. As new vulnerabilities are found they're ... left alone.
And, of course, once they're found, hackers do what hackers do ... exploit them.
There are three directions to take this, and all have validity depending on your own needs and abilities.
Linux: I can't say whether it's right for you, but Linux has been coming along nicely in recent years. I continue to recommend Ubuntu, but particularly on older machines there are also distributions that are much smaller. You won't sidestep the lack of support issue, though, as even Linux versions are eventually mothballed as newer versions come out.
If keeping your existing hardware is of utmost importance, as is the cost of an upgrade, the Linux may very well be worth investigating.
Windows XP: the minimum version of Windows that I would recommend to anyone now is XP with SP3 applied. It can run on a machine with 256 megabytes of RAM (I wouldn't recommend less), and 20-30 gigabytes of hard disk space. If that's your Win 98 machine, then I'd claim that a trial might well be worth it. The refurbished machine as a cost saving measure is actually a pretty good idea if you're cash sensitive. You'll at least get yourself to a place where you can do what you need to do and feel pretty safe doing it.
Windows 7: naturally the longest lasting investment will be to bite the bullet and update to Windows 7. If you can afford it, if you can handle the change (coming from Win 98 you'll experience quite a number of changes), it's the path I recommend. I don't think you have to spend a lot on a machine, just make sure that it's expandable - most importantly in RAM - get 2gigs minimum, but make sure that someday if you need to you can upgrade it to at least 8.
There actually is a scenario where it really does make sense to keep that Windows 98 machine, but I'm guessing it's not your scenario.
If it's not online. If it's fairly isolated and not likely to come into contact with the various means that malware propagates, then it might well make sense to keep it going.
But as I said, that's a fairly uncommon scenario these days.
Windows 98 was great in it's day - but that day has passed.
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