Microsoft Releases Windows Millennium Edition

Microsoft Corp. today released Windows Millennium Edition to manufacturing, meaning development of the operating system is complete. Consumers will be able to buy systems loaded with Windows Me beginning Sept. 14.

According to Microsoft (, Windows ME is the last product in the Windows 95/98 line of operating systems.

Redmond is already urging business customers to upgrade Windows 98 desktops to Windows 2000 Professional, the follow-on to Windows NT 4.0 Workstation. The effort has been poorly rated by analysts such as the Giga Group's ( Rob Enderle, who doubts Microsoft will have much success because it has made pricing of Windows 2000 Professional more in line with the expensive Windows NT than with the consumer-focused Windows 98.

Further out, Microsoft announced plans at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in New Orleans to combine its consumer and business operating systems on the Windows NT code base with the next release of Windows 2000, code- named "Whistler." Microsoft says it will deliver Whistler in 2001. Although they will be based on the same code, the business and consumer versions of Whistler will be sold separately.

Microsoft also reversed plans to strip some business networking functionality out of Windows Me after negative publicity, indicating the intentions of customers to continue to use some form of the Windows 9x code base in their network plans.

Nonetheless, the target for Windows Me is clearly the home user.

"By focusing principally on the needs of the home user, we were able to create a more simplified PC experience for first-time users while enhancing existing users' experiences by enabling new home-computing scenarios," Paul Maritz, group vice president of the Platforms Strategy and Developer Group at Microsoft, said in a statement.

New to the consumer OS with Windows Me are stability enhancements including the ability to roll back a PC's software configuration to a date or time when it was working properly and the prevention of accidental or unauthorized overwrites of system files. The new operating system is also optimized for fast-boot PC hardware.

Microsoft has been on a tear lately in releasing operating systems. The company released version 3.0 of its Windows CE embedded operating system last week. - Scott Bekker

About the Author

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

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