Microsoft this week released beta versions of Windows 2000 for server appliances and Office XP, and is preparing to unveil a beta release of a more secure Internet Exchange (IE) browser.
The Windows 2000 product, called Advanced Server, is aimed at server appliances managing dedicated tasks such as storage or databases. Microsoft customers that build such devices include IBM, Compaq, Dell and Maxtor.
Dell used Advanced Server in its recently released PowerVault 735N storage system. A spokesperson said that it was stripped down to its basic components to increase performance.
Another group of beta testers are waiting for a new version of IE 6.0, which has several new features. They will receive the new software some time in the next two weeks.
According to an internal Microsoft document posted on the Activewin.com Windows community site, the upgraded browser offers new Explorer Bars and privacy and security tabs, as well as extended virus protection in Outlook Express.
The new browser will be tightly integrated with the upcoming Windows XP operating system, but will work with other versions of Windows including 98 and ME. However, it will not work with Windows 95.
On the applications front, Microsoft has begun selling a beta of Office XP, which is scheduled for launch on 31 May, according to US sources. The company is charging $19.95 for the "corporate preview release" which is available from its website until 31 August.
The preview release will include the latest versions of Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and FrontPage.
However, some US analysts have questioned whether Office XP will be a big seller as users are satisfied with the versions they are already using and see no reason to upgrade.
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