Version 5.0 of Windows NT is set to be even more delayed than originally expected, with the second beta still not finalised and the operating system not expected to ship now before the second quarter next year.
The revelation marks the latest in a long line of slippages, but in an interview with PC Week last week, Bill Gates, Microsoft?s chairman and chief executive, continued to be flexible with his timescales.
"There?s almost no possibility it will be in 1998. There?s a high probability it will be in the first half of 1999. That?s different than a ship date," he said.
But, customers at Microsoft?s three day Windows NT 5.0 Deployment Conference in San Jose, California, this week will receive a pre-beta 2 version of the operating system. This will include the IntelliMirror management software, Application Installer and chunks of Active Directory, but not version 2.0 of NT Terminal Server and version 5.0 of the Internet Explorer browser as expected.
The full Beta 2 release, which is due to be tested by 200,000 corporate users, is likely to be delayed from July to later this summer, while Beta 3, described by officials as a "refresh", is due to ship by the end of the year. Any user who wants to test it will be free to do so.
Rob Enderle, analyst at consultants, Giga Information, said Microsoft may have underestimated the amount of work they need to do with NT 5.0.
"Microsoft is doing nearly a complete rewrite of the operating system. The more testing they can do to iron it out and make sure there are no bugs in it is key. I wouldn?t be surprised if they have to do a Beta 4. This has to be right when it goes out," he said.
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