Come June 30, 2006, things start to change in the support for Windows 98 and Windows 98 Second Edition. You can read more on the support changes for Windows 98 & Win 98 Second Edition, as well as Windows Millennium. In short (and from the site)...
- Paid incident support for Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, and Windows Millennium Edition (Me) is available through June 30, 2006.
- Critical security updates will be provided on the Windows Update site through June 30, 2006.
- Customers may request non-critical security fixes for Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows Me, and the most current version of their components until June 30, 2006 through typical assisted-support channels.
- Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, and Windows Me downloads for existing security issues will continue to be available through regular assisted-support channels at no charge until June 30, 2006.
- Online self-help support will be available until at least June 30, 2007.
Visit the Windows XP Home Edition Upgrade Center where you can check your PC to see if it's ready for Windows XP, how to qualify for an Upgrade and ensure that your hardware and software are compatible.
The recommended specs for Windows XP Home is a 233 MHz or faster processor (300 MHz Pentium/Celeron family, AMD K6/Athlon/Duron family, or compatible) with at least 128 MB of RAM (256MB is cheap these days) and 1.5 GB of HDD space (plus details on CD-ROM drive, SVGA video and Internet access). Your situation may be different, mileage may vary. One friend upgraded their old Sony 500MHz Pentium by adding more RAM (to 256 MB) and a hand-me-down 20GB hard disc with their Windows XP Home upgrade. (Sony was super in that they had provided updated drivers on their web site for the PC for Windows XP.) And they haven't had to buy any new software: they run older software under Windows 95/98 compatibility mode. (This is particularly helpful in support of their library of kid's games.)
Certainly cheaper than buying a new PC, and great for their kid's all-purpose PC.
Also of interest: the Top 10 Reasons for Moving to Windows XP Professional.