Gates: Win2000 will ship this year

Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates said today he was "pretty sure" Windows 2000 would be out the door by the end of the year.

"We are very close to the final shipment," Gates told some 1200 managers here at Dell Computer's DirectConnect conference. "We're pretty sure the builds will go final by the end of the year." Gates, who spent much of his keynote reiterating plans for the future, did offer some new tidbits, such as that Microsoft will spend $3.8bn this year on research and development.

Twenty-five years ago, he said, his vision was to put a computer on every desk and in every house. Now, with 50 percent of all American homes owning a PC, Microsoft's next move is to help revolutionise the workplace by creating software that works anyplace and on any device. "We still have a lot of work to do," Gates said. "The end is not in sight."

He then elaborated on Microsoft's partnership with Dell, especially how the two companies plan to revolutionise the workplace by weaning executives and workers away from traditional methods of doing work to create a paperless and efficient workplace. "Even basic things like meetings can be changed with digital technology," Gates said.

He said companies enamoured of paper are caught in bureaucratic inertia, and they will be outrun by those that have embraced the idea that the computer can be the ultimate tool. "The company that does not will be 'out competed'," Gates said, "even though paper is definitely easier to use, it's more flexible and you don't get those funny error messages. Plus, it has been developed over a long period of time."

Showing off Win 2000 Microsoft is working with Dell to develop several new technologies for end-to-end direct business that leverage the Internet. Some of these new capabilities include handwriting recognition, voice interaction for email, direct commerce integration and creating an IT help desk over the Internet so users can fix computer problems online rather than calling a technician.

As part of his talk, Gates demonstrated how Windows 2000 will make enterprise management easier. Windows 2000 promises to be more scalable for better load balancing and reliability, he said, enabling IT administrators to deploy applications across all servers. "It should eliminate the Unix single point of failure issue," he said. " People are expecting everything out of this software that they got from mainframes, plus they want the clustering capability."

Gates also showed off Windows 2000's central management of servers. For example, the OS groups all processes associated with an application for easier manageability. "Server management is imperative," Gates said, "because you are always going to have a lot of servers. The idea is that you can see the health of all the servers."