Microsoft's chairman Bill Gates predicted the long-awaited operating system Windows 2000, due to be launched on Thursday, would be "dramatically more reliable" than other company releases.
Windows 2000, which cost $1bn (£610m) to develop, is the most important product launched by Microsoft since Windows 95, Gates said in an interview with NBC's "Today" show. "This will be dramatically more reliable than any other release we have put out. We have come up with breakthrough ways to assure the reliability," said Gates, who is due to launch Windows 2000 at a gala event in San Francisco Thursday.
Microsoft stock has been rocked in the past week by a report from research firm The Gartner Group which forecast the new operating system would be slow and may be incompatible with some existing software.
Commenting on claims that Windows 2000 had a security problem in one part of the program, Gates said this was not true, adding that it had been tested on 300 customers and feedback had been very positive. "This is going to be one that people are glad they moved up to," he said.
Asked about whether 40 percent of Microsoft profits in fiscal 2000 were geared to Windows products, Gates said it was within that range. "The launch of this product is a very key event."
Gates told NBC he was spending a considerable amount of time trying to settle the US government's antitrust lawsuit. "We are putting all our creativity into that. We are hopeful that we can reach a settlement but in terms of the specifics, we are keeping that confidential."
Ironically, the launch of Windows 2000 has meant more legal drama for Microsoft after the European Union began a probe last week of the new $1bn operating system.
The investigation will look at whether Windows 2000 breaks EU competition law by allowing Microsoft to unfairly extend its dominance in personal computers to servers -- the workhorse machines that are the foundation of the Internet and business networks.
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