Microsoft has officially given the name Windows 98 to the next generation of its OS, currently codenamed Memphis. It will ship 98 in the first quarter of next year. Company officials claimed that Microsoft never intended to name the product Windows 97, although it originally said the product would go on general release this year.
The software giant briefed press and analysts this week on the future path of Windows CE, the handheld version of the OS, Windows 98, and NT. Its vision is that the trio will run on devices ranging all the way from in-car systems to handheld PCs to business servers.
According to Anne Mitchard, Microsoft?s personal systems and Internet group manager, the company is close to announcing CE on in-car systems. It will also ship an OEM adoption kit to enable developers to take different elements of the cut-down operating system and embed it in a range of consumer devices.
In the entertainment world, CE will soon appear in music centres using Digital Video Disc drives, as well as TV set-top boxes. But broadcast PCs will use Windows 98.
The second beta version of Windows 98, with Internet Explorer integrated, will be available within the next few days.
In the business world Microsoft officials promised the company would slash the cost of managing an environment built round NT 5.0 servers and NetPCs by 46 per cent. IT managers would see savings of 41 per cent by using Windows Based Terminals, which will be launched by the end of the year (see earlier story). The savings are less than in a NetPC site because servers will need to get ?fatter?, said Jeremy Gittins, Microsoft?s Windows and total cost of ownership (TCO) marketing manager.
Part of the TCO offerings will be Intellimirroring for NT 5.0. Information and applications on each users' PC can be copied to the server so that end users can log on and use their own applications from any PC. This feature will not be available on the current version of NT.
A management console will also be available in NT 5.0 that will enable administrators to manage the entire Windows 98 and NT 5.0 environment from one place. For instance, they will be able to update applications and download software to all systems from one location.
A small business version of Microsoft Back Office will ship later this year.
Microsoft?s 'zero administration Windows' policy will also be extended to the next version of Office, with cost of ownership slashed in half. It will also be componentised' so users can install applications as and when they are needed. Office will also have self-repairing features which will replace missing files and provide 'self-repair' even if critical files have been deleted.
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