Microsoft releases Windows XP RC2 to manufacturing

The latest pre-release version of Windows XP will ship to PC manufacturers tomorrow - and the company insists it is on track for a 25 October ship date

Microsoft will release Windows XP release RC2 to manufacturers on Saturday, according to the company's group vice president Jim Allchin.

Allchin stressed that the final release of Windows XP is still on track to ship on 25 October. "We've got the finish line in sight," said Allchin. "Our people have been sleeping in offices to get the product finished". A number of controversies have led some observers to speculate that it could be delayed until as late as next year. But Allchin said the company is not making any contingency plans for the legal threats that the launch faces.

But, he said, "We're not ignoring the legal threat. We consider it to be very serious. But the product I see written about is not the product that I'm building. You can use as much as this product as you want or as little of it as you want."

RC2 of Windows XP will introduce several important changes. Smart tags have been removed, and a new 'clean desktop' has been introduced which Microsoft says will be less confusing to users. "We have given OEMs the flexibility to put things on the desktop, but in the retail package that will be clean," said Allchin.

In light of an imminent launch for Windows XP, Allchin was keen to reassure business that are still rolling out Windows 2000. "We would say continue rolling that [Windows 2000] out. With Windows XP Professional we would say just flip that into your rollout -- you can even make it look like Windows 2000."

Allchin said Windows XP Professional would be reliable and more secure "and we have new tools that let us go through the code and improve that. We will be able to prove that Windows XP is more reliable".

For complete business coverage, see ZDNet UK's Enterprise Channel.

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