Beta Three Of Win2000 Released To Manufacturing - InformationWeek

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Beta Three Of Win2000 Released To Manufacturing

Microsoft has released the third and final beta test version of Windows 2000 to manufacturing, senior officials said yesterday. Within the next six to 10 weeks, almost 700,000 copies will go out to users, developers, and channel partners, making it the largest beta test in Microsoft, and perhaps industry, history.

Of the 690,000 units to be sent out, 400,000 will be provided under Microsoft's newly adopted "corporate preview program," which will let users install the desktop version on up to five machines and the server version on up to two servers. Therefore, it is possible that as many as 1 million users will test beta three.

That is likely to be good news for customers in the long run. Information Week Research surveys have consistently identified increased reliability and stability over Windows NT 4.0 as the primary criterion by which users will judge Windows 2000. A massive beta test such as Microsoft has planned will test the code on a wide range of hardware platforms.

Microsoft officials again said they expect to ship the first three editions of Windows 2000 -- Professional, the desktop release; Server; and Advanced Server -- by year's end. But the officials emphasized that the quality of the final code will determine its release date, not a planned ship date.

Beta three will be the first fully operational release of Windows 2000, including support for 7,000 different pieces of plug-and-play hardware and 120 different notebooks, officials say. This release also integrates support for Microsoft's Component Object Model Plus distributed network protocol, Windows Terminal Services, new administration wizards, and full IntelliMirror functions. Among those are support for the enforcement of Windows Installer features that will cause some user applications to no longer function in part or completely, because the applications violate rigid installation rules.

Beta three also provides a wizard to automatically upgrade NT 4.0 desktops to Windows 2000, including adopting all of users' configuration settings.

Additionally, users who receive the corporate preview program discs directly from Microsoft will receive free phone support for the beta via the company's product support services -- the first time Microsoft has provided such support for a beta product. Users who receive beta three installed on new PCs from hardware vendors will receive support from those vendors.

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