WindowsMe - and don't forget the IE!

The new consumer version of Windows hits a milestone with Beta 3 next week. And, yes, Internet Explorer is still part of the product

Microsoft testers can expect the next milestone next week of WindowsMe, Microsoft's Windows for the home release due later this year. The third and supposedly final beta version, Beta 3, will be available for testers to download from Microsoft's private tester site some time next week, Microsoft officials said.

On Saturday, Microsoft will demonstrate to attendees of its eXtreme product showcase event in theatres across the US, a nearly final version of Beta 3, officials said.

Microsoft has tweaked the feature set a bit since it issued Beta 2 in November. As reported by ZDNet News, the latest betas include a beta version of Microsoft's newly released Windows Media Player 7. Beta 3 also will include Microsoft Movie Maker, technology that users can employ to organise, edit and distribute their video clips.

Still integrated

Microsoft officials declined to specify when the company expects to ship WindowsMe, other than to say the company still believes it will deliver the upgrade to Windows 98 and Windows 98 Second Edition in the latter half of this year.

Microsoft is moving full steam ahead with plans to deliver Internet Explorer 5.5, the next version of the company's browser, as a completely integrated feature of the product, officials reiterated

Earlier this week, District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson threw into question whether Internet Explorer and Windows should allowed to be "tied," when he issued his conclusions of law in the ongoing Department of Justice vs. Microsoft antitrust case. Microsoft has said it plans to appeal the judge's findings.

WindowsMe is Microsoft's first purely consumer-focused version of Windows. It's the final Win9X-kernel-based Windows release, according to Microsoft. All versions of Windows post-WindowsMe will be built on the NT kernel.

WindowsMe is not slated to be a major upgrade to Windows 98. It will include enhancements in the areas of Internet connectivity, home networking, PC health and digital media management, Microsoft has said.

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