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(Japanese Site)

  • Microsoft's Gates to Debut Windows 98 in Japan on June 17
  • May 7, 1998 (TOKYO) -- Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates will debut Windows 98 on June 17 in Japan.
    However, local subsidiary Microsoft Co., Ltd. of Japan will release the Japanese version of Windows 98 on July 25.

    On the July 25 launch date, rollout events like those that accompanied the release of Windows 95 are expected to be held across Japan in all of the big shopping districts for electrical goods, such as Akihabara in Tokyo and Nipponbashi in Osaka. Personal computer manufacturers will also start shipping PC models pre-installed with Windows 98 from the launch date.

    The price of upgrading to Japanese Windows 98 from Windows 95 or Windows 3.1 will be around 13,000 yen (US$100), according to sources. The upgrade will be available initially only as a CD-ROM version for AT-compatible PCs and NEC Corp.'s PC-9800 series.

    Because the Japanese Windows 98 will be released too late for the traditional summer-bonus sales season, many PC manufacturers will offer an upgrade service for products purchased after May 1 as a way of beefing up the slow sales expected this summer.

    The upgrade services will allow purchasers of Windows 95 personal computers to obtain the Windows 98 upgrade version, free of charge or for a price, once Windows 98 goes on sale.

    With the exception of a few non-committal companies, most PC manufacturers were moving toward providing a free service at the time of Nikkei Personal Computing's survey in late April.

    A chief executive at one company said that although free upgrades would cost nearly half a billion yen and represent a considerable burden for the manufacturer, there is no other choice in a competitive market.

    The specific products and procedures for the upgrade service differ among manufacturers. The general trend is to offer Windows 98 upgrades on new models sold from May onward, but some manufacturers may also offer upgrades on old models sold from May 1 in order to eliminate existing inventory. Most manufacturers regard Windows 98 as an operating system for personal users, and many will make the upgrade version available to corporate users as a for-fee service only.

    The typical upgrade procedure is for the manufacturer to package a coupon purchased from Microsoft with each product. The user sends the coupon back to Microsoft and receives the Windows 98 upgrade version by return mail.

    Some manufacturers are considering different methods, however. The direct marketing company, Dell Computer Corp. of Japan will send the upgrade version free of charge to all users who place an order between May 1 and July 31.

    NEC, Fujitsu Ltd. and Hitachi Ltd. have been running "be in early" Windows 98 sales campaigns since the fall of 1997. While promising discounts on Windows 98 to PC purchasers, these companies have not yet given any definite indication of what the discount is worth or how it will be provided. As there has been no formal statement from Microsoft about the price of Windows 98, the Japanese manufacturers will likely advertise discount details after the Windows 98 price is announced on June 17.

    (Nikkei Personal Computing)

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    Updated: Wed May 6 20:58:10 1998