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MS planning Win 98 follow-up?

As Win2k is u/s for the consumer market, we figure a quick and dirty revenue-generating 9x rev

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In among the rumours that Microsoft's long-expected split into four divisions (see earlier story) is due to take place next week there's an interesting little nugget: according to the Wall Street Journal, which today chases after a story that first broke surface over a month ago, senior VP and butterfingered video impressario Jim Allchin is to "retain responsibility for the forthcoming Windows 2000 operating system, as well as the successor to Windows 98". If this is true, then it takes us a little nearer confirmation of the stories that the planned convergence of operating systems at Win2k stage has been cancelled. MS' previously stated intention was for Windows 98 to be the last of the line, and for Win2k to provide the standard business platform for both clients and servers. Just to make it confusing, of course, there's also record of an intention to produce a consumer version of Win2k/NT, so the plan as was catered for convergence, followed by a swift divergence again, but based on the new code base. Again last month (see Microsoft junks consumer NT plan), it appeared that Microsoft had decided to postpone convergence, possibily indefinitely. The confusion in the company's strategy then was apparent from the bizarre combination of code base and name -- the 'one more rev' would be based on Windows 98, but for want of a better tag was being referred to internally as NT Consumer. As the NT brand ought to have ceased to exist by the time such a rev shipped, referring to something based on the 9x code base as NT was just plain weird. But here's an interesting thought. If it's the case that Microsoft thinks a home OS based on the Win2k kernel is impossible to do in the immediate future, both for technical and footprint reasons, where's the money going to come from? And how is MS going to move the users along in its preferred directions? The standard OS refresh every couple of years or thereabouts is helpful both because it provides revenue, and because its helps lock users into the latest Microsoft standards. And by a happy coincidence, if MS has abandoned the more ambitious strategy, a clean-up of Windows 98 plus a raft of new bells and whistles (shall will call it Windows Millennium Edition?) should be pretty simple. So the 'new' OS could be with us by Q1 next year, which could be handy if Win2k slips again and/or it turns out to be not quite as impressive as intended. When Microsoft intends to ship and when it does ship are however usually two separate things -- so start hyping RSN, wind up shipping Q2 2000? Or if Jim wants to be really tricky, why not dress up the next service pack (where the registration stuff is going to have to be fixed), call it a new OS and whack it out for Q4 99? ®

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