Microsoft sets Windows 2000 D-Day

February 17, 2000 set as launch date...

Microsoft will launch its long-awaited Windows 2000 product on February 17, 2000, officials told partners attending Windows 2000 Marketing Day in Las Vegas this week.

The company will launch the product in San Francisco at IDG World Expo's Windows 2000 Conference and Expo trade show slated for February 15 through 17 at the Moscone Center, sources said. Word of Microsoft's plans to launch Windows 2000 in February began leaking out earlier this month.

Between now and the launch, Microsoft is set to deliver its third and final beta, Release Candidate 3, to a selected group of testers. A subset of the more than 650,000 RC2 testers -- mostly those in Microsoft's Joint Deployment and Rapid Deployment corporate test programs -- will receive RC3.

Microsoft will use Fall Comdex to tout RC3 and drum up "excitement and enthusiasm" for Windows 2000, officials told partners.

Microsoft still intends to release the final product to manufacturing before the end of calendar 1999. Officials told partners it looks like the product will go "gold" before Christmas.

While the Windows 2000 launch is not expected to rival in size or hype the Windows 95 launch five years ago, Microsoft is planning to make Windows 2000 an international launch, officials told the estimated 600 attendees of its Las Vegas event.

Microsoft will emphasize four key marketing messages at the Windows 2000 launch, according to partner sources. These are the ability of Windows 2000 to "Internet-enable" businesses; its reliability; its manageability; and its status as the "best platform for new devices" because of its Plug And Play and streaming video support. Microsoft officials did not return requests for comment on its Windows 2000 launch plans by press time.