Comdex '99: Win2000 beta Wednesday?

The last Release Candidate slipped a few days, but an internal Microsoft memo insists that things are still on track

Microsoft didn't make its goal of releasing to manufacturing last week the final broadscale beta of Windows 2000, but it's looking like it will do so on Wednesday.

Microsoft was hoping to finalise the so-called Release Candidate 3 last week so that company officials could tout the availability of the release as definitive proof that Windows 2000 was in the home stretch. But last Friday, Microsoft discovered a security issue that was "serious enough for us to consider stopping the train for", according to an internal Windows 2000 status update.

Once it cuts RC3, Microsoft is expecting to deliver it to 15,000 joint development and technical beta testers. After RC3 is out, Microsoft will do some final release candidates, which it will make available to increasingly smaller subsets of testers. Microsoft officials reiterated at Comdex/Fall that the company is still on track to release to manufacturing Windows 2000 before the end of this calendar year. Commercial availability of the product will commence on 17 February, 2000.

Still on track Microsoft officials assured in-house developers working on Windows 2000 that last Friday's security problem would not affect final shipment plans.

"...the fact we've changed the date multiple times is aggravating, but delivering the correct quality level for RC3 & aiming at almost no changes between RC3 & RTM is the is key to us shipping at the right level," the memo read. "We just need to keep focusing on chasing reported problems, defining what they are & seeing whether they are something we absolutely need to fix."

Microsoft officials added in the internal memo that "We are still on track to ship in December -- it would be a very bad thing for us to even think we could go out further than we are. Don't lose belief we can do it."

During a press and analyst briefing at Comdex on Monday, Microsoft Senior Vice President Jim Allchin emphasised Microsoft's reliability initiatives and the positive impact they will have on Windows 2000's quality.

In a related development, Microsoft on Tuesday issued a hotfix to a problem it discovered with its recently released Service Pack 6 for NT 4.0. Microsoft said the hotfix will resolve incompatibilities between Service Pack 6 and Lotus Notes and other Winsock applications.

For full Comdex coverage, see the Comdex '99 Special Report .