Microsoft sets release date for Windows 2000

The oft-delayed successor to Windows NT will reach customers on February 17, although the software will be delivered to manufacturers this December, allowing Microsoft to meet its self-imposed year-end deadline on a technicality.

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Microsoft will release its Windows 2000 operating system to customers on February 17, the company announced today.

After months of delays, Microsoft said it will ship the next generation of Windows NT in mid-February. The software will be delivered to CD-ROM and computer manufacturers in December, however, allowing the company to make its self-imposed 1999 deadline, albeit on a technicality.

Windows 2000, nee Windows NT 5, is the next version of the company's operating system for large organizations and corporations that have centrally managed desktop computers in a "client-server" architecture. The release is one of the most significant in Microsoft's history, according to executives, because of the complexity of the software and its intended target.

Microsoft informed 600 hardware and software partners of the new release date for the Windows 2000 Professional, Windows 2000 Server, and Windows 2000 Advanced Server editions at the Partner Marketing Day in Las Vegas, said Keith White, director of marketing for the business and enterprise divisions at Microsoft.

The software company will next announce pricing and marketing details at Comdex, one of the computer industry's highest-profile trade shows. "You will see them roll out the ad campaign at Comdex," he said, noting marketing efforts probably won't hit the same level as those which preceded the releases of Windows 95 and Windows 98.

"We expect to have the boxes on retail shelves and the code to [manufacturers] on February 17," he said. "Our goal was always to release the product by the end of 1999, meaning our final bits to manufacturer."

Shipping the new operating system two months into 2000 offers some advantages for Microsoft's partners and customers, he said.

"A lot of our partners and customers have plans around the holiday season and Y2K," White said, referring to retailers planned holiday promotions and large companies' spending in preparation of the Year 2000 glitch. "This gives us the ability to be sensitive to those issues."

Windows 2000 offers enhanced Web application services, increased scalability (the ability to add more and more computers to a network), and increasied security, according to Microsoft. The software is more stable and reliable than earlier operating systems, the company says.