Didi and Estragon may still be waiting for Godot, but as of February 17, 2000, they'll be able to do so with Windows 2000 installed on their systems.
Microsoft announced yesterday that it has finished work on the code of three versions of its much-awaited Windows 2000 operating system and that it will begin shipping the products immediately to its own manufacturing facilities and to third-party OEMs.
The product will be available to users from Feb. 17, 2000.
"Windows 2000 is the most widely tested product in the history of Windows software development," said Jim Allchin, vice president of Microsoft's Platform Group, during a teleconference yesterday.
Microsoft has been working for three and a half years on this operating system, which is aimed at businesses of all sizes, Allchin said.
The three versions eleased to manufacturing are:
-- Windows 2000 Professional, designed for desktop and portable PCs;
-- Windows 2000 Server, a network operating system designed for servers at small businesses and departments which supports up to 4-way symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) configurations;
-- Windows 2000 Advanced Server, a version designed for heavier workloads than Windows 2000 server that supports up to 8-way SMP configurations.
A fourth version of Windows 2000 -- Datacenter Server, for even heavier workloads -- will be ready between 90 days and 120 days after the February release of the first three versions, officials said.
Microsoft decided to release Windows 2000 to manufacturing after 100 of its closest partners and customers on Monday all said the product was ready, said Brian Valentine, senior vice president of the Windows division, during the teleconference.
"It took us a while to get here, but it's because we weren't willing to compromise. ... (We were committed to) shipping a quality product that doesn't require service packs ... to get the quality," Valentine said.
Microsoft's external testing program involved running Windows 2000 on more than 20,000 desktops and more than 1,500 servers at partner and customer sites, Valentine said.
Internally at Microsoft, Windows 2000 is running on more than 50,000 client machines and more than 1,100 servers across all the company's business units, including on all of the 300-plus servers powering Microsoft's Web site, Valentine said.
The Windows 2000 family of operating systems has been designed with improved management and performance features that will result in faster and more reliable system operations, officials said.
Windows 2000 will ship in 16 languages on Feb. 17, and in 10 other languages 60 days later, said Deborah Willingham, vice president of Windows marketing, during the teleconference.
Releasing Windows 2000 to manufacturing implies that the final version of the product's code is ready and will be delivered to Microsoft's production facilities in the U.S. and abroad to generate the CDs, print user manuals and make boxes, Willingham said.
The code will also be delivered to OEMs so that they can preinstall it on the hardware products they will later sell to buyers, she added.
The preferred desktop operating system for consumers will continue to be Windows 98 and its upcoming upgrade, Windows Millennium Edition, due some time next year, officials said. After the Millennium Edition ships, Microsoft will merge that product's code with Windows 2000, officials added. That way, the next upgrade of Windows for consumers will belong to the Windows 2000 family of operating systems, they said.
Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, is at http://www.microsoft.com.