Microsoft has finally released a beta version of Whistler, its next Windows operating system for businesses and consumers.
Whistler beta 1, originally expected last month, will be sent to Microsoft's major partners and customers, and more than 200,000 software developers for testing.
Microsoft said the release of Whistler beta 1 will provide software and hardware vendors with a single code base on which to develop applications and devices for both home and business PC users.
The beta release will be available as a 32bit operating system, and 64bit for early evaluators of Intel's 64bit Itanium chip.
According to Microsoft, the Whistler desktop and server family of products will improve on the "substantial advancements that Windows 2000 enterprise customers" already have.
Microsoft said it plans a phased release of Whistler, beginning with the desktop products and followed by the server versions. It expects both versions to be generally available in the second half of next year.
However, last month research company Gartner said it did not expect the delivery of Whistler until late 2001 or even 2002, particularly for server products. Analysts at Gartner also said Whistler would not deliver significant improvements in enterprise functionality.
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