Microsoft's plan to ship Windows NT 5.0 next summer looked doubtful last week as it emerged that the company has given itself less than six months to iron out bugs in the beta release.
Although NT 5.0 goes into beta next month, it will only be a developer release. The feature complete version of NT 5.0 is not scheduled to go into beta until next February, Microsoft confirmed last week, and the company has still to carry out complex migration work.
This latest development puts a huge question mark over whether Microsoft will be able to complete the beta test programme in time to ship the operating system in the summer of 1998 as planned.
The stumbling block appears to be migration tools. Encouraging die-hard Windows 3.x users to migrate to 32-bit Windows 95 and ultimately to NT is one of Microsoft's biggest goals.
According to US reports, it will be possible to move to NT 5.0 from Windows 98, the next version of Windows 95, previously known as Memphis, and Windows 3.x. Alternatively, Windows 3.x users can run NT 5.0 applications without migrating by connecting to a multi-user NT server. However, due to incompatibilities in the file system, it will not be possible to move data from Windows 95 to NT 5.0.
"The only way Windows 95 users will be able to get onto NT 5.0 is via Windows 98," concluded David Weekes, Windows 98 product manager at Microsoft.
Positioning Windows NT 5.0, Nick McGrath, product manager for the Windows group at Microsoft, said it would be "the logical choice" for corporates who do not rely on 16-bit applications. Positioning Windows 98 in the corporate sector, he added: "It would offer the best performance in an environment of 486-class machines with 16Mb of memory."
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