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Microsoft Close on RTM for Windows XP

All indications are that Microsoft Corp. appears prepared to certify Windows XP’s Gold Code sooner than expected – perhaps within the next few days.

The software giant originally planned to distribute Windows XP Gold Code to manufacturers by August 22. But a recent e-mail that Microsoft dispatched to Windows XP beta testers acknowledges that the next-generation operating system could be certified within a matter of days.

“This build is not the RTM (release to manufacturing) build. However, we are very close,” the e-mail states.

Windows XP RC2, which shipped several weeks ago, was based on build 2526 of the XP codebase. The version of XP that Microsoft released to beta testers on Tuesday was based on build 2542. Microsoft has said that RC2 was to be the last of the Windows XP release candidates.

If Microsoft’s own development history is any indication, the XP code probably won’t undergo much further tweaking: RC3 of Windows 2000, the last of Microsoft’s planned release candidates, was based on build 2183 of the Windows 2000 codebase; the Windows 2000 Gold Code – which was certified shortly after RC3 appeared – was based on build 2195.

According to Rob Enderle, a senior analyst with consultancy Giga Information Group (www.gigaweb.com ), Microsoft must get the XP Gold Code to OEMs as soon as possible if the next-generation operating system is to realistically ship before its planned October 25 debut.

“OEMs always need time to qualify the hardware and to test [the operating system] and to prep systems with it,” Enderle notes. “They’re not going to just get the RTM code and start shipping systems based on it. They need at least four weeks to qualify everything, and typically more.”

OEMs aren’t expected to start selling consumer-line systems based on Windows XP until late September, but Giga’s Enderle says that corporate customers will have a chance to purchase XP as soon as the RTM code is pressed to CD.

“A large corporate customer can get it as well as soon as the discs are cut. So if you’re a big corporation, and if you’re buying thousands of machines, there’s a reasonable chance that you can get this thing early,” he says.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

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