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WinXP to RTM Friday – and go on sale September?

If Ballmer says it's Friday, Thursday it is...

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Microsoft CEO and the-bleeding-obvious specialist Steve Ballmer has told a conference in Sao Paulo that he expects Windows XP to RTM by Friday. And so, unless something nasty turns up, it will be.

According to Register sources, that something's appearance seems unlikely. For some days now beta testers have been gung ho about XP's battle-readiness, and any issues still to be fixed are said to be minor. But if Ballmer says Friday and he's not making it up (he also specialises in that).

Our Redmond sources tell us build 2600 is the final candidate, and as of today about 40 per cent was already signed off. Remaining bugs are said to be minor.

Meanwhile, there seems to be a suspicious level of preparedness in the channels. Suspicious of course, because if your stated policy on code development is 'it'll be done when it's done' (which in Microsoft's case, it is), then you surely can't have your sales and marketing people getting dates to the disties and resellers before it's done. Mysteriously, despite pretty substantial instances of slippage in the XP beta in the past six months, all this seems to have been made up to the extent it could even beat the ETA that beats the official launch date, October 25th.

The OEMs are already likely to have XP machines out in late September, and now a mole forwards us a snap of a Computer 2000 stock list page displaying an estimated arrival date of September 3rd for WinXP in the UK. Our nervous mole (a reseller) has unfortunately blanked out the trade price, and it could be a goof, but we think not.

Our Redmond sources however suggest C2K is likely in for a slapping on this one. Any dealers who'd care to tell us about the sudden disappearance of an ETA for C2K part number 639749 will refuse our thanks, but no money.

Any need Microsoft had to beat the law with XP's rollout has just about evaporated, but a pre-emptive strike at retail will surely have been considered in the past few months, and if it's gold by Friday, it wouldn't be beyond the wit of the Microsoft plant in Ireland to flip the switch and have the CDs trucking throughout Europe within ten days. It could happen.

Meanwhile, it appears that some sort of workaround for the WPA in last week's XP build 2542 got out pretty swiftly, complete with a working product key. We're told it works, sort of, but that the warez guys are largely waiting for RTM in order to produce cracked, patched versions of that. But it'd be a little embarrassing for Microsoft if the swiped versions were doing the rounds, thanks to broadband connections, before the legit CDs were on sale; so ship early, ship often? ®

Related stories:
WinXP WPA switch signals RTM is imminent

Unrelated factoid:
According to the widely-respected BBC Radio 4, the "widely respected" producer of the wartime morale boosting programme Workers' Playtime was none other than Bill Gates. Egad...

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