Microsoft: Whistler will Unify NT/9.x Code Base

NEW ORLEANS -- Microsoft Corp. has been talking about a unified code base for its consumer and business operating systems for a long time. At the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) today, company officials promised the next version would be the one to bring the code together.

"Next year the consumer segment is going to start the move in full momentum to using technology based on the Windows NT code base," said Carl Stork, general manager of Microsoft’s Windows Hardware Strategy Group.

The operating system code-named "Whistler" is the follow-on to Windows 2000, and Stork assured hardware developers that they shouldn’t worry about extra work on Whistler.

"If things work on Windows 2000, they’re going to work on Whistler. It’s a small, logical upgrade," Stork said.

For consumers, Whistler is two releases out. One more release is planned to come out this year using the Windows 9.x code base, Windows ME for Millennium Edition.

"Windows ME is the last full release of an OS product from Microsoft that’s based on the Windows 9x code base," Stork said.

Microsoft ( is already trying to move business clients off the 9.x code base and onto Windows 2000 Professional, although it has received some customer pushback. The development team initially left some corporate networking capabilities out of Windows ME that customer pressure forced the company to include.

While business users and consumers will share a code base, Whistler will yield at least two client operating system packages, Stork said. "One is optimized for business users – a logical follow on to Windows 2000 – and another optimized for consumers and entry-level users," he said.

Add to the mix that Microsoft expects to release a 64-bit version of Windows 2000 Professional later this year, and will offer both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Whistler.

Microsoft is already bringing some of the enhancements from Windows 2000 into Windows ME, including hibernation mode and the Windows 2000 TCP/IP stack.

The Whistler version is to include new multi-user enhancements, such as allowing one user to log off a machine without quitting applications. – Scott Bekker

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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