Software testers are going to be busy in the next few weeks as new Windows and Linux betas make their way into the marketplace. Microsoft officials said the company Tuesday had posted the first official beta release of Whistler -- which is the successor to Windows 2000 -- to the private Whistler Web site for beta testers.
Starting this week, the company will begin shipping CD versions of Whistler to an additional 200,000 testers via its Microsoft Developer Network subscription service.
In an unusual move for the company, Microsoft is planning a phased launch for Whistler, company officials acknowledged on Tuesday, delivering desktop versions of the operating system first, followed by server versions.
For most of the prior releases of Windows, Microsoft has launched desktop and server versions simultaneously. The company said the multiple desktop and server versions of Whistler will ship in the second half of 2001.
"[With Whistler beta 1] we are focused on the delivery of Windows 2000 foundation [technologies] and dependability to the consumer space," said Shawn Sanford, Microsoft's group product manager for the Windows client.
With Windows NT 4.0 and the other Windows 2000 releases, Microsoft has made a conscious decision to hold off from releasing its client versions before its server ones.
He said later betas will include more of the visual design and other changes planned for Whistler.
Sanford denied that the phased launch represented a departure for Microsoft, citing Microsoft's phased release of Datacenter Server 2000 as an example. But with Windows NT 4.0 and the other Windows 2000 releases, Microsoft has made a conscious decision to hold off from releasing its client versions before its server ones.
Microsoft also said Tuesday that Whistler beta 1 will be the 64-bit version of Windows that will be made available to early evaluators of Intel's Itanium systems.
Microsoft said Build 2296 is the release that it has christened "beta 1".
Meanwhile, also on Tuesday, Linux godfather Linus Torvalds has posted to kernel.org the near-final release of the Linux 2.4 kernel. In making available to developers the so-called 2.4.0 Test10-Final release, Torvalds noted that this beta has no known "showstopper" bugs. If testers discover no serious bugs, Torvalds could release the final 2.4 kernel some time in November.
Linux 2.4 is running about a year behind the delivery date originally targeted by Torvalds.
"We're still waiting for the Vatican to officially canonise this kernel, but trust me, that's only a matter of time," Torvalds joked in an 31 October note to testers. "It's a little known fact, but the Pope likes penguins too."
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