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Win2k successor Whistler to beta in October

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Microsoft is poised to release the first beta of Whistler, the successor to Win2k, and is expected to hit the market in the second half of next year. We have of course heard this sort of stuff from Microsoft before, but when Windows division senior VP Brian Valentine delivered the hostages to fortune to journalists yesterday, he was likely speaking from a position of some confidence.

The Whistler beta has slipped somewhat, but not disastrously - it's likely to show its head above the parapet in October. And Microsoft is building on something it's got already this time, so it's revving Win2k rather than reinventing it over a period of three to five years. Whistler will be out in business and consumer flavours (but if you think about it, the customisable skinning facilities allow it to come out in many flavours).

Once it ships, Microsoft will have finally achieved a single, unified codebase, at least for its PC operations, and it will be able to implement simple, dare we say trivial, revs a la Win9x. Which makes the analysts comments yesterday more than a little bizarre - these guys do follow Microsoft, don't they?

Some of them, speaking to Reuters "off the record" (at Microsoft's request, for reasons we can't fathom) said releasing Whistler so soon after WinME could hurt the latter's sales, as buyers held off for the big one. Um, when something's off the record you don't print it, Reuters - we trust you meant "non-attributable."

But one would have thought the analysts would have seen a pattern establishing itself over the past few years. There were revs of Win95 under the one banner, but then in 1998 we had Win98, in 99 Win98 SE, and in 2000 we're getting WinME. Microsoft issues a new rev of its consumer OS every year, and packages it as a new version, even though no great hill has been climbed (which is the reason why it can put out a new one every year. The unnamed analysts are therefore confusing one class of MS product, whole new OS (NT, Win95, Win2k) with the other, pseudo-point release class.

The Win2k service pack 1, itself somewhat delayed, will meanwhile be out next week. As Whistler's being built on the debugged Win2k, there's a coincidence, right? ®

Related stories:
X-Box design 'complete' - MS demos microbrowser, set top box
New UI types hidden in Windows Whistler preview code
Preview version of Windows Whistler released

Reuterspeak Update:
The systems delivering Reuters stories over the wires continue to barf entertainingly. If this keeps up we may have to start a whole section for them. We're intrigued by the copyright position, incidentally. If Reuters had produced this deliberately then we'd clearly be breaching copyright by reproducing it. But does Reuters hold copyright on accidental machine-generated gibberish? We'd appreciate a call from any passing Reuters legals. Anyway, here's the latest episode, which moves effortfully from X-Box, via the US Senate, to military budgets. And a big hello to President Clopriators:

"REDMOND, Wash. (Reuterseks to unseat Sony Corp. from the top spot in thinancial analysts at the company's headquarterso this half-hearted. It's a long-term investmentt in October.

"The Xbox will also take on a peppered with references to how the Xbox will deliver better graphics and sound than Playstation 2, as welllion in sales of consoles, games and accessorie) graphics chip, a DVD player and the ability terious progress in bringing Xbox to life," Bac as key footholds in the living room.

"The PC market is very important to us because it's where a lot "Xbox really is designed to penetrate that marould be released aftewards. Bach said developmeft would collect a royalty on Xbox games published by other vised final vote, details para 18)

"By Johnst week that would boost military pay and broaden pharmacy access for military retirees. Supporters sai"This is a disgrace," McCain said of the spending measure. "It has millions and millions and millions of dollars devoted to projects that have nothing to do with national defense."

"The legislation, the result of a House-Senate negotiating conference that worked out spending differences between the two chambers, now goes to President Clopriators to revoke accounting gimmicks included in an emergency spending package last month that provided mte Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevented by Clinton.

"Included is a $963 millioncentives. The measure also provides $1.8 b to equip a second unit capable of deployment within 96 hours. The funds also will help accelerate creation of a lighter, quicker combat vehicle capable of fighting like a tank."

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