Chronology of Personal Computer Software

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References are numbered in [brackets], which are listed here. A number after the dot gives the page in the source.

Last updated: 2022 April 29.


March 31
  • Blizzard releases the StarCraft game for personal computers in the US. [2530.50] [2601.99]
March (month)
  • Top-selling computer game in the US for the month: Starcraft. [2496.116]
May 22
  • GT Interactive releases the Unreal game for personal computers in the USA. [2530.50] (released by Epic Games [2601.99])
September 28
  • Microsoft pulls Office 97 Service Release 2 from distribution, to fix reported problems in installation. [1559]
  • Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser takes the lead over Netscape's Navigator for the first time. [1462.94]
October 6
  • Microsoft releases Visual J++ 6.0 Java delopment software. Price is US$549 for Professional Edition, US$109 for Standard Edition. [1559]
October 14
  • Apple Computer introduces the Mac OS 8.5 operating system. Release date is set for October 17. Price is US$99. [1559]
  • Netscape Communications releases Netscape Communicator 4.5. [919] [1559]
  • Microsoft releases the second beta test of Windows NT Workstation and Server versions. [938.51] [1444.35] (August [945.60])
October 21
  • At the Networld+Interop trade show, Microsoft releases Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 4. [1559]
October 27
  • Microsoft announces that the final name for Windows NT 5.0 will be Windows 2000. [1559] (July 1999 [1897.131])
October 30
  • Microsoft re-releases Office 97 Service Release 2. This update had been released a month ago, but distribution was suspended to correct occasional improper installations. [1559]
November 13
  • Be announces BeOS Release 4 operating system, for Intel and PowerPC processor-based computers. The new release is better integrated with Windows files amd keyboard shortcuts. Release is set for December, with online purchase price US$69.95, or retail price US$99.95. [1559]
  • Opera Software releases the Opera v3.5 web browser. [932]
  • Netscape Communications releases Netscape Communicator 4.08. [919]
  • Red Hat Linux 5.2 is released. [774]
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  • LinuxPPC 5.0, Linux for the PowerPC, is announced. [774]
November 18
  • U.S. District judge Ronald Whyte grants Sun Microsystems' request for a preliminary injunction against Microsoft, requiring Microsoft to cease labeling its products that contain Java technology as being the "official" Java implementation. [1559]
November 20
  • Sierra releases the Half-Life computer game for Windows-based computers in the US. (In 2001, PC Gamer magazine calls it the best computer game ever.) [1870.73] [2530.50] [2601.99] (January 1999 [2160.48])
November 30
  • BioWare releases the Baldur's Gate game for personal computers in the US. [2601.99]
  • Corel begins giving away WordPerfect 8.0 for Linux Personal Edition, free for non-commercial use. [175.64]
  • Opera Software releases the Opera v3.51 web browser. [932]
  • Microsoft releases Windows 2000 Beta 3 Release Candidate 0. [1444.35]
  • Software shipments in North America on DVD: 25.1 million units. [1608.12]
  • Handheld computer operating system market share for the year: Palm OS 41%, Windows CE 25%, EPOC 13%. [1185.22] [1559]
  • Desktop operating system market share in the world: Windows 82%. [1429.58]
  • Shipments of desktop personal computer operating systems in the USA during the year: Windows 3.11 1.3 million, total 89 million. [1559]
  • Market share of desktop personal computer operating systems in the USA during the year: Windows 95 57.4%, Windows 98 17.2%, Windows NT 11%, Mac OS 5%, DOS 3.8%, Linux 2.1%, Windows 3.11 1.1%, Unix 0.8%, OS/2 0.5%, others 1%. [1559]
  • Software sales in the United States for the year: US$141 billion. [1065.16]
  • Shipments of personal computer operating systems for the year: Linux 2.9 million. [175.64] (700,000 [923.45])
  • Top-selling personal computer game during the year: StarCraft, at 746,365 units, worth US$31 million. [2530.50]


January 5
  • At the Macworld Expo, Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 4.5 for Macintosh. [1094.27] [1559]
January 6
  • At the Macworld Expo, Connectix releases the Virtual Game Station software for the Apple Macintosh computer, allowing users to play Sony PlayStation video games on their computers. Price is US$49. [1559] [2135.16]
  • At the Macworld Expo, Apple Computer debuts Mac OS X Server operating system. It incorporates the Mach microkernel, BSD 4.4 version of Unix, Apache web server, and WebObjects. Price is US$995. [1094.28] [1559]
  • Apple Computer releases Mac OS 8.5.1 operating system. [1094.29]
January 25
  • Linus Torvalds releases the Linux 2.2 operating system kernel. Some new or updated features include better support for multiple processors and hard disks, and easier firewall setup. [1559] [1601.9] [1648.53] [1708.28]
February 1
  • Microsoft announces a new version of Windows CE, adding support for color displays. [1559]
  • Microsoft releases the DirectX 6.1 software. New features include support for the Pentium III processor, and DirectMusic. [1774.49]
February (month)
  • Top selling computer game in the USA during the month: SimCity 3000. [2536.49]
March 1
  • Oracle begins shipping the Oracle 8i database software, for a variety of operating systems. Price starts at US$1475 for a 5-user license. [1559]
  • IBM announces it will begin distribution and technical support for the Linux operating system on its systems. [840.4]
  • Corel decides to market its own version of the Linux operating system. [1462.74]
  • Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 5.0 Final Release. [836.41] [913]
  • At the Game Developers Conference in San Jose, California, the Computer Game Developers' Association holds its Spotlight Award ceremony.
    • Best use of graphics: Half-Life;
    • Beast use of audio: Half-Life;
    • Best artificial intelligence: Half-Life;
    • Best action game: Half-Life;
    • Best PC game: Half-Life;
    • People's choice: Half-Life;
    • Best multi-player game: Half-Life;
    • Best of show: Half-Life.
March 16
  • Sony Online Entertainment releases the EverQuest game for personal computers in the USA. [1732.50] [1870.64] [2291.113]
  • Apple Computer releases Mac OS X Server 1.0 and a preview version of Mac OS X for developers. [1918.45]
  • Novell ships NetWare 5.1. [1035.46]
  • Microsoft releases Windows 2000 Beta 3 Release Candidate 1. [1444.35]
March 26
  • The computer virus "Melissa" attacks about 250,000 PCs worldwide in about three days, using Microsoft Outlook to mail itself to email addresses in the address book. This is the first virus capable of jumping from computer to computer on its own. [1260.193] [1420.126]
April 15
  • Bleem releases the bleem! PlayStation game emulator for Windows-based personal computers in the USA. Price is US$24.95 via Web site download. [2157.28]
  • Electronic Arts releases the Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri game for Windows-bases computers in the USA. [2160.48]
  • Families of victims of a school shooting in Paducah, Kentucky, file a lawsuit in US District Court seeking US$130 million. The suit is filed against movie, Internet, and computer game companies including Nintendo, Sega, and Sony. The suit alleges games such as Nightmare Creatures, Doom, Quake, and Mortal Kombat negatively influenced 14-year-old Michael Carneal who killed three and wounded five at his high school. [2289.30]
  • Handheld computer operating system market share: Windows CE 8%. [1185.20]
  • Lotus Development ships Lotus Notes 5 groupware software. [922.6]
  • The computer virus "Chernobyl" appears. [1260.193]
  • Apple Computer releases the Final Cut Pro software for the Macintosh. [1886.71]
April 19
  • Caldera Systems releases OpenLinux 2.2 operating system. It includes Corel WordPerfect 8 and StarOffice software. Price is about US$50. [1559]
April 22
  • In the US, Connectix ceases shipping its Virtual Game Station software for the Apple Macintosh computer, complying with a federal court order. Sony filed a trademark and patent infringement lawsuit against the company in January. The software allows Sony PlayStation games to be played on Apple computers. [1559]
May 9
  • The Fox Broadcasting Company airs The Simpsons TV show in the US. A t-shirt shows "C:/DOS C:/DOS/RUN RUN/DOS/RUN", a reference to Microsoft's MS-DOS operating system on a personal computer with a hard drive. A personal computer is shown, with monitor, keyboard, and mouse. [1971]
May 15
  • Netscape Communications releases Communicator 4.6. New updates include RealNetworks' G2 multimedia player, and 56-bit DES encryption. [1559]
  • Microsoft releases Windows 98 SE (second edition), with Internet Explorer 5.0. [1897.131]
  • Corel releases the CorelDraw 9 graphics software for Windows. [1719.28]
May 25
  • Corel releases Corel WordPerfect Office 2000 software. It includes WordPerfect 9, Quattro Pro 9, Corel Presentations 9, CorelCentral 9, Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications, and Trellix 2. Standard price is US$99, professional version is US$199. [1559]
June 9
  • Apple Computer ships QuickTime 4 software for the Macintosh. This release adds MP3 audio support. [1072.28] [1559]
  • Netscape Communications releases Netscape Communicator 4.61. [919]
  • Opera Software releases the Opera v3.6 web browser. [932]
June 16
  • Microsoft releases Windows 98 Service Pack 1. [1098.30]
June 22
  • Lotus Development releases SmartSuite Millenium Edition Release 9.5. Standard price is US$399, upgrade price is US$149. [1559]
June 30
  • Paramount Pictures releases the film South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut to theaters in the USA and Canada. When a holographic display is encountering difficulties, a man kicks the unit and says "F'ing Windows 98!". He calls in Bill Gates and says "You told us Windows 98 would be faster, and more efficient, with better access to the Internet!" Bill Gates tries to argue that it is, but the man shoots him. [2292]
  • Retail software sales revenue for the past six months: 23% Microsoft products. [1185.20]
  • Retail operating system unit sales for the past six months: 77% Microsoft products. [1185.20]
  • Retail office suite unit sales for the past six months: 84% Microsoft products. [1185.20]
July 21
  • At the Macworld trade show, Steve Jobs announces the Halo: Combat Evolved game for Mac and Windows computers. [2565.99]
(month unknown)
  • Quote by Trae McCombs, site manager for the web site: "In five years we're going to sit around an laugh that we even had operating system wars; there's just going to be Linux. We're going to take over.". [1451.21]
  • Corel releases WordPerfect Office 2000 office productivity application suite. It includes WordPerfect 9 word processor, Quattro Pro 9 spreadsheet, Corel Presentations 9, CorelCentral 9 personal information manager, Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications, and Trellix 2. Price is CDN$599-769. [905.26]
August 5
  • The GenCon convention is held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, over four days. Strategic Simulations officially announces the Pool of Radiance 2 game for Windows PCs. Interplay and Bioware announce the Neverwinter Nights game for Windows PCs. [2229.32]
  • Compaq Computer ceases development work on 32-bit Windows NT for the Alpha processor. [2059.4]
  • Microsoft announces it will not release any more software products for the Alpha platform. [2059.23]
August 16
  • Microsoft releases ActiveSync 3.0 for Windows CE, a software update allowing better communications with desktop computers. [1559]
August (month)
  • Top selling computer game in the USA for the month: Half-Life. [2230.54]
  • The November issue of PC Gamer calls Half-Life the best PC game ever. [2230.119]
December (month)
  • Top selling computer game in the USA for the month: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. [2158.32]
  • Top selling computer game in the USA for the year: Roller Coaster Tycoon. [2158.32]

End of 1998-1999. Next: 2000.
The complete timeline can be purchased in a PDF file for US$10 from the author.

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