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Tue, Jun 20, 2000
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Windows 2000 Aimed at Businesses,
Not Average Consumers

By Cliff Edwards   Associated Press
SAN JOSE, Calif. — 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 databases.

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 Windows 2000.

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 power.

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 www.microsoft.com/windows2000/upgrade/compat/search/default.sp.

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