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Whoops – Dell suggests Win2k ship date slips into next year

Free upgrade programme doesn't start until February...

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Microsoft's top hardware buddies at Dell have unexpectedly supplied evidence that Windows 2000 might not ship until February - at the earliest. We noted last week that Bill Gates (speaking to a Dell audience) might have been suggesting more delays, and we also had a tip tip that the big launch would be in January, but Dell's Win2k marketing nuts and bolts are now going into place, and they signpost some time after February. Dell yesterday announced a free upgrade programme to Win2k professional for purchasers of Dell machines with the English language version of NT 4.0 preinstalled. But the programme is "valid for purchases made through February 2000." Reverse-engineer that and you get a probable release to manufacture of Win2k in late December (Bill was "pretty sure" MS would have the final build by then), and a probable big bang launch in January, with Win2k preinstalls going out on OEM machines in the March-April timeframe. On the positive side, Dell's inadvertent leak signals that Microsoft and Dell are almost certain that this new later schedule can be achieved. Microsoft does not like dishing out free upgrades, and nor do PC OEMs. Somebody is going to have to pick up the tab for Dell's free upgrades, and whoever it is will want to keep its size down. If it's Dell, then it'll be paying two licence fees per machine "through February 2000," and if it's Microsoft it'll be losing an upgrade fee on each of those machines. But probably it's a bit of both. Bill Gates and Michael Dell were both speaking at Dell's gleefest last week, and no doubt they'll have taken the time to share thoughts and visions of the roadmap ahead, and how the tolls are to be paid. ®

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