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Windows XP Launch Set for Oct. 25

After speculation about Windows XP launch delays damaged Microsoft Corp.'s stock a few weeks ago, the company went public with its launch date Wednesday. Microsoft's next desktop OS will be available Oct. 25.

“Mark your calendars now,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement declaring Oct. 25 as a “historic day” for the industry. On a conference call with editors and analysts, Jim Allchin, group vice president at Microsoft, compared the launch date to days marking personal events, such as birthdays or anniversaries. He said that Microsoft would miss the launch date no more than the audience would miss a wedding anniversary.

Windows XP is the next generation client operating system for Microsoft. It represents the long-promised code base that folds the consumer desktop operating system into the more stable Windows NT/2000 kernel. It will ship in two editions: Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home Edition.

When a reporter suggested XP Home Edition lacked new features, Allchin feigned hysterical laughter. "This product is so exciting," he said, "Its a very feature-rich product." Allchin pointed to a variety of expanded multimedia and internetworking features that will drive the consumer market for XP.

Speculation about a slip began running wild in late April when several industry analysts reported that PC manufacturers weren’t expecting the new OS to be ready to ship until October. For a long time, Microsoft had been positioning the Windows XP release as being ready for back-to-school sales and in the same timeframe as the Windows 95 release, which launched around August. Some recent reports alleged the client operating system’s release might slip into 2002.

Allchin was quick to note that the release date is not immature, saying stability, not deadlines, is Microsoft's first priorty. "With Windows XP we've raised the bar again," he said. Allchin also described daily updates for the OS that will hopefully keep the system blue-screen free. "This system is like a living organism, in the sense it improves every day," he said.

The new economy appears to be alive and well in Redmond - Microsoft is boasting about the unfettered spending that will accompany the XP marketing. "We will double the spending of Windows 95 in the first four months," Allchin says. He said he was unsure if the Rolling Stones would play at the launch event, but hinted that it will be extravagant.

While Windows XP will be the successor to Windows 2000 Professional, the next generation of Windows 2000 servers will ship later and under another name. Microsoft will call the server line Windows 2002. The late October launch date for Windows XP makes a 2002 shipment date increasingly likely for Windows 2002.

Related article:
Analysts: Windows XP Release Slipping

About the Author

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

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