Microsoft is still at work on the next version of what is now called Windows NT 4.0, but it is getting PC makers such as Compaq Computer, Dell Computer, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Gateway to ship computers that meet a set of minimum requirements to ensure they run the future Windows 2000.
PCs that meet the relatively hefty entrance requirements will ship with Windows NT Workstation 4.0 preinstalled, at least 64MB of RAM, a 300-MHz processor, and support for the new euro currency. The plan was announced at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas.
Micron has been offering such systems since September, and customers planning to move to the new OS will have preview (or test) copies of the software sent to them by Micron.
Windows 2000 is intended to be Microsoft's entry into the higher realms of corporate information systems. But it will also mark the first time the more robust technologies from Windows NT make their way into consumer PCs. Eventually, Microsoft will offer a 64-bit version of the OS that offers increased performance in addition to the initial 32-bit version.
Microsoft has said it will market four different versions of Windows 2000: a desktop version and three different versions for servers, which vary according to price, performance, and the number of processors that the OS will accommodate.
The new Windows moniker will also be seen in the company's next consumer operating system. Windows 98 will be followed by an NT-based OS sometime in the next two to two and a half years, company executives have said.
Information about the program is also available on a special Microsoft Web site.