Microsoft Corp. may be gearing up for
the launch of its Windows 2000 operating system, but the message
for the average consumer is "Don't try this at home."
Windows 2000, a family of products that succeeds Windows NT
version 4.0, is aimed at corporate users who need the upgrade for
the complex tasks large computers need to power Web sites and
But the company says Windows 2000 scheduled to be released
Thursday in San Francisco is no substitute for the Windows
Millennium Edition, which is targeted for home machines.
Users of test versions of Windows 2000 say it's a nightmare when
trying to work with the various components now being shipped for
use with the average home computer, including games, digital
cameras, some antivirus programs and e-mailing programs.
"We've really been trying to get the message out that Windows
2000 is for business use and Windows Millennium is for most home
users," said Keith White, marketing director for Windows products.
Windows 2000 also could prove a challenge to even the most
technologically savvy, according to trade publication Smart
Reseller that recently cited an internal Microsoft memo
acknowledging the software contains 63,000 possible defects.
"Our customers do not want us to sell them products with over
63,000 potential known defects. They want these defects
corrected," stated one of Microsoft's Windows development leaders,
Marc Lucovsky, in the memo. "How many of you would spend $500 on a
piece of software with over 63,000 potential known defects?"
A Microsoft spokesman declined comment to The Associated Press.
While most software typically contains bugs, Microsoft has
developed a reputation of having notoriously temperamental software
that can lock up and cause the dreaded reboot.
Analysts say the consumer Windows Millennium, dubbed "Windows
Me" by Microsoft insiders, isn't likely to be problem-free. But
they say the product due sometime this summer is a logical
extension of Windows 98 and its predecessor Windows 95, which are
the world's most popular software programs.
"Windows Millennium, that's just a natural progression in the
services they're providing," said Banc of America Securities
analyst Paul Dravis. "It's really going to be the last of the
offerings where they're going down two different paths."
Microsoft acknowledges Window Me is a stopgap product, but White
said it will help meet consumers' needs until the Redmond,
Wash.-based company moves a product in 2001 code-named "Whistler"
that would pare down some of the estimated 35 million lines of code
in Windows 2000 but offer some of the core benefits. Whistler would
make the system less prone to crashes and offer encryption
security, along with other undisclosed features.
Included in Windows Me will be software for making digital
movies on the computer and transmitting them over the Internet,
similar to that currently being offered by Apple Computer's latest
iMac operating system. The updated Windows also will allow people
to download music more easily, network two or more computers and
better navigate the Internet, White said.
"For those people who want to move forward with what they can
do with their computer, Millennium is going to be a great step for
them," he said.
Still, Windows 2000 might be a good bet for laptop users who
want to bring work home with them. The new operating system has
power-management features that, combined with new computer chips
unveiled last month by Intel Corp. and Transmeta, could
significantly reduce battery drain and help avoid the lengthy
reboot period. Windows 2000 also includes encryption software that
can make a laptop virtually useless if stolen.
Windows Me also will offer security features to allow users to
establish a unique coded profile to keep prying eyes away from
certain files, but access will not be as tightly controlled as
More importantly for a huge segment of the home computer
population, nearly three of every four existing games will not work
with Windows 2000, according to Brian Livingston, co-author of
Windows 2000 Secrets from IDG Books Worldwide.
And experts say installing Windows 2000 over a Windows 98
operating system requires a lot of time, patience and computing
The new operating system lists minimum requirement of a Pentium
computer running at 133 megahertz or better, with at least 64
megabytes of random access memory and 2 gigabytes of hard disk
space. There also is no uninstall feature if you make a mistake.
Microsoft has a Web site to help determine whether you should
upgrade to Windows 2000, at