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MS Win2k rollout starts with 500k beta in May

Let the hyping commence - but how finished is 'finished?'

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After months of talking down expectations for Windows 2000, Microsoft started talking them up again on Friday, confirming the suspicions we expressed just a little earlier (MS starts Win2k push) that this time Redmond was definitely going for a Win2k launch big-time. Senior VP Jim Allchin, the man responsible for the rollout, has been schmoozing PC Week Online, and promising that Win2k beta 3 will be with 500,000 beta testers next month. Actually, our spies tell us that beta 3 has been available on the MS Developer Network for over a week now, and that at least four hotfixes have already been posted there. Don't even try to look though - it's padlocked. Allchin's appearance on the interview trail is the latest sign that the rollout has started already, the other two obvious ones being the engagement of the Corporate Partnership Program (CPP), designed to get corporate users started on an upgrade programme that leads from beta 3 to gold version, and the OEM programme, whereby OEMs will ship beta 3 machines plus an upgrade certificate. What was missing after Microsoft moved on these two was the widespread beta, and Allchin's promise of 500,000 copies seems to deal with that one. A lot of people are going to get their hands on Win2k, and they're going to get it Real Soon Now. From what our good friends at ZD report, Allchin seems remarkably perky and optimistic about the project, not coming up with any actual ship dates for the gold product, of course, but it's worth noting that our good friends now refer to Microsoft internally expecting shipment in October. This is a little bit different from previous suggestions that selected customers might receive some form of pre-release version of the product in October, so we should watch out for bits missing from anything that ships earlier than late November. We should also watch who receives anything that ships in October. Allchin says Microsoft will continue to update code until Win2k ships, and depending on what he means by that it could have a severe impact on the product actually getting to the PC companies. They need Microsoft to freeze the code, send it to them and then give them time to test it before they ship, so the further Allchin rolls with his update programme, the later the PC outfits will be. Microsoft also needs time to cut CDs. Will "ship" not really mean ship? You read it here first. Allchin also reveals something rather interesting about the 'security' of Win2k. The OS now includes protection that stops applications from replacing core system DLLs. This obviously is good if it stops rogue applications trashing your system with their install procedures, and it's certainly about time Microsoft did something about the DLL hell its faulty admin procedures create, but it's potentially a control system too. If an application requires the replacement of a system DLL, and if only a Microsoft patch or service pack is allowed to do this (one presumes), then Microsoft gets to call the shots, doesn't it? One of the pieces of software that may be threatened by this procedure seems to be, spookily, Novell's NDS for NT. ®

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