Microsoft Promises Much For Windows 2000 Beta 3

Beta 3 of Windows 2000, which Microsoft has targeted for wide release in April, will go a long way toward fixing many of the problems reported in earlier versions of the next-generation operating system, a key Microsoft executive said Monday. Since Beta 2 of Windows 2000, formerly called Windows NT 5.0, was given to testers in August 1998, Microsoft has identified several areas of concern that it will fix in Beta 3, according to Yusuf Mehdi, director of marketing for Microsoft's Applications and Internet Client Group.

Among the problem areas were compatibility with existing applications; the upgrade from Windows 9x systems; device coverage in Windows 2000 Professional, the OS formerly known as NT Workstation; the large memory footprint; installation woes with Active Directory; and a lack of Component Object Model+ (COM+) integration in Windows 2000 Server, Mehdi said at a briefing for journalists at Microsoft's headquarters.

COM+, the coming COM update, will be a key addition to the next beta of Windows 2000. Many developers and users have said that COM+, along with the Active Directory, is the most important new capability in NT 2000. Additions to Beta 3 of Windows 2000 Professional will include Internet Explorer 5.0, which will ship next week; other user interface enhancements; support for a digital cameras and other devices; and setup improvements. Beta 3 of Windows 2000 Server will include COM+ integration, wizards to help administrators set up the Active Directory, and integration with Windows Terminal Server, Mehdi said.

Windows 2000 Server consisted of roughly 23 million lines of "core" code, a figure that is significantly smaller than other estimates from other Microsoft officials, beta testers, and others familiar with the product. According to Mehdi, estimates of the product having 50 million or 60 million lines of code were erroneous. Mehdi repeated Microsoft's public statements that it hopes to ship Windows 2000 by the end of this year, although he was quick to add that if the product is not deemed ready, Microsoft will take longer. Microsoft also is touting Windows 2000 for laptop computers, the first time the company has aimed NT technology at portable PCs.

"It will be the best laptop OS, that's for sure--even if you use Windows 98," Mehdi said.

The oft-delayed Windows 2000 has been under development for years, and now the successor to the consumer-oriented Windows 98, which will be based on the NT kernel, has been delayed past the year 2000 because of work on the enterprise software. Mehdi acknowledged that Microsoft's foot-dragging on NT has let competitors such as Novell and Sun Microsystems get the jump in the enterprise market.

"Novell has benefited a little" by NT's delays, Mehdi said. "People think that Windows 2000 is the migration OS from Novell." However, he pointed to a release Microsoft issued last week trumpeting the fact that Window NT 4.0 now is licensed on 28 million desktops.


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