Gates hedges on Windows 2000 delivery date

Microsoft is "pretty sure" that Windows 2000 will ship by the end of the year, although delivering a top-quality product is the main concern and will dictate when the operating system is released, Bill Gates, the company's chairman and chief executive officer, said last week.

Speaking at Dell Computer's first user conference in Austin, Texas, Gates called the new operating system "the biggest version of Windows we've ever worked on".

The product has been dogged by delays and will already be well over a year behind schedule if it ships by December.

"With quality as the top goal," delivering Windows 2000 by year's end depends on the feedback Microsoft gets from customers currently testing the software, Gates said.

"We are very close to final shipping," he added. Scalability, and in particular the ability to link groups of servers together in a network, was at the top of Microsoft's list of objectives in designing the operating system, he said.

Two Microsoft engineers demonstrated features in the new operating system, which will be released in different versions for workstations, departmental servers and larger servers.

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