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Gates climbs back onto Windows convergence train

The last convergence plan only came off the agenda earlier this month, but here we go again anyway...

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Double take time folks. Microsoft abandoned its convergence plans for Win9x and NT earlier this year. That's why it's shipping Windows 98 Second Edition RSN, plus at least one more before they call it off. But Microsoft is puffing Win2k like crazy at Comdex this week, and Bill Gates yesterday seems to have announced, er, a convergence roadmap. We suspect that Bill isn't altogether keeping pace with what his development people say is and is not achievable. The earlier plan, announced by, er, Bill at last year's WinHEC, was to move to a common codebase when Win2k shipped. Windows 98 was going to be the last of the line. This was totally non-feasible by the beginning of this year, and even with the Win2k rollout now sort of roadmapped there will be hot-fixes for it flying into the closing months of this year, at the very least. Microsoft can't start on honing this codebase down for a consumer version until next year, at the earliest (we believe we keep saying this). Bill's new/old plan, however, seems to be for a Win2k kernel update next year, and then a consumer version update of the kernel in 18-24 months. On the 18 month figure that puts us into Q3-Q4 2000, so in the unlikely event of this being achieved Windows 2000, Consumer Edition would be next year's big release. Which might clash a little bit with the consumer edition of Win9x that's been pencilled in for 2000 in the past few weeks. But they won't even make 24 months for the full OS, of course, and it will be worth watching to see how much resource Microsoft deploys on this project compared to Win2k business edition, and Win9x consumer. Here's another suspicious thought though. Say you were freezing Win2k code like crazy in order to ship it this year rather than next. There would likely be things you'd want to do to the kernel which you couldn't, because you didn't have the time. So a kernel refresh next year? Aha! Maybe Bill is keeping up with what's going on. ®

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