updated 1/12/2004 9:32:05 PM ET 2004-01-13T02:32:05

Microsoft Corp. will extend support for Windows 98, Windows 98 S.E. and Windows Millennium Edition through June 30, 2006, the company said Monday, reversing a decision from last month.

Support for Windows 98 and Windows 98 S.E. had been scheduled to expire on Friday, and for Windows Me on Dec. 31, but the software giant decided to keep supporting those systems in large part because some customers in developing countries were not aware it was ending.

"While we've done an excellent job communicating our life cycle policy for most of our products, we have found that we could use more time to communicate those guidelines in a handful of smaller markets," including Kazakhstan, the Ivory Coast and Slovenia, Microsoft spokesman Matt Pilla said.

During the extended support period, the company will offer paid phone support and review security threats to determine whether it will provide customers with security patches.

About 20 percent of all Windows-based computers still run Windows 95 or 98, according to International Data Corp., a technology market research firm. Support for Windows 95 ended Dec. 31, 2001.

Since Oct. 15, 2002, Microsoft has offered seven years of support for its new products. Before that, it offered four. (MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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