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Windows 98 does not support Plug n Play Devices. So you have to download appropriate drivers from Microsoft Website. Though Windows 98SE ( Windows 98 Second Edition ) thought to be support USB Mass Storage Drives fairly, these drivers are not pre-installed with OS. You have to download Service packs to install these drivers.
Since Windows 98 have TWO versions, we have to download corresponding service packs .
Well, Occam's razor philosophy! I just tried on my 250 Gb IOMEGA external HDD on Win98 and it worked. "Mass storage" jargon driver does NOT work. HOWEVER if you declare it as "USB FLASH DISK", it WORKS, (after computer reboots), though not that speedy. Anyway, you can do your job. Now if you have found any better solution, please forward it at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
The people at your local computer shop are wrong but, Windows 98 should at least recognize the USB thumb-drive and ask for drivers.
I would remove all the USB Controllers from within Device Manager and restart; allow Windows upon restart to reload the USB Controllers; then plug in the drive and see if Windows at least recognizes and then install drivers.
It seems only the DTI/XX, KUSBDTE/XX, and DTII/XX support Windows 98.