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Gartner Group spreads NT 5.0 gloom

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A year ago From The Register -- a year back Gartner Group is the latest outfit to advise its clients to steer clear of Windows NT 5.0 for the next couple of years. The company is joining the ranks of those who feel a usable version of NT 5.0 won't ship in 1999, and under these circumstances widespread deployment will have to wait another year. Advice of this sort is seriously bad news for Microsoft, which is currently bracing itself for the onslaught of NetWare 5 next month, and scrambling to get a second beta of NT 5.0 out by the end of Q3. The company's key next generation operating system has already slipped badly this year. Beta 2 is now targeted for the end of the summer, and the goal is to move swiftly through a third beta in time for shipment early next year. But not many analysts are going to bet the farm on Microsoft making that schedule. Seeing NT 5.0 miss 1999 entirely is a less probable result, but the predictions are in a sense self-fulfilling; the complexity of the software is likely to mean that the production version, even discounting the fact that it is becoming an increasingly rushed job, will have holes in it that need fix-packs. So a shipment in mid-1999 with fixes in Q3 could easily force deployment back into 2000. Microsoft also faces the Year 2000 problem - the later NT 5.0 is, the less likely corporations are going to be to expend resources on it until after they have Y2K out of the way. Microsoft sources however are insistent that NT 5.0 is closer than the pundits claim, and that a usable version of beta 2, complete with a usable Office 2000 suite, will be out on schedule. But if that does happen it will still put the company in a tricky position, because although it needs to make a noise to stop Novell running away with the show, it can't afford the PR damage of stuffing the market with less than 100 per cent versions of something that is supposed to be 'mission critical' when it ships. Meanwhile the 'multimedia enhancements' of Windows 98 are reportedly going to be available for download from Microsoft's Web site from 18 August. Initially described by some ignorant journalists (guilty) as a 'service pack,' this little bunch of goodies is nothing of the kind, says Microsoft. But aside from stuff like DirectX 6 and Media Player the (can we call it a patch then? Thought not...) thingummy will apparently include a couple of fixes. Just little ones, we trust. ®

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