Microsoft moving on consumer Windows

The next consumer Windows operating system, already enshrouded by Microsoft with the catch phrase, "It just works", is expected to be released next year.

Developers have been given a "prebeta" of the next version of Windows 98 (to be called "Millennium"), to show the operating system's "technical backbone", according to Microsoft.

The release will focus on home networking, digital media and entertainment, and users' online experience, according to a company statement.

However, a Microsoft representative denied a report on a testers' Web site, at http://www.betanews.com, indicating that the preview of Millennium will include radical changes, such as the disappearance of the Start menu or an end to DOS legacy support.

"It's just not that far along yet," the representative said.

If Microsoft holds to its current plan, the Millennium release of Windows will be the last based on the Windows 9x kernel.

The company had hoped to eliminate that line and move to a consumer version of Windows NT, but that plan was put on hold -- a chief reason being the time the company is spending on the oft-delayed Windows 2000, the update to NT 4.0.

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