Microsoft and several OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partners launched a Windows 2000 blitz yesterday, with the software giant unveiling several initiatives aimed at securing wide deployment of Beta 3 of the next-generation OS.
As expected, Microsoft announced at the Windows World show in Chicago that it would broaden its program for Beta 3, expected to be completed next week, through a new Windows 2000 Corporate Preview Program (CPP).
Through the CCP, enterprise customers willing to pay US$59.95 will receive Windows 2000 Advanced Server, multilanguage versions of Windows 2000, and Windows 2000 Professional and Windows 2000 Server for Alpha processors.
Microsoft also offered a Channel Readiness Kit and an Online Resource Center for Beta 3.
Microsoft hopes to release Windows 2000 in early October; however, for years the product's release date has been a moving target, and many industry observers expect it later than that. Nevertheless, the company is targeting enterprise customers with a hard sell now.
"Now is the right time for customers to begin working with MCSPs (Microsoft Certified Solution Providers) on formal evaluations of Windows 2000 Professional and Windows 2000 Server," Sam Jadallah, vice president of Microsoft's Enterprise Group, said in a statement.
"Over the past year we've been working closely with our channel partners to familiarise them with the latest developments for Windows 2000, and we will continue to invest in supporting them with the knowledge and resources they need to deliver great solutions and services to their customers," Jadallah said.
Several PC makers jumped on the bandwagon, promoting Beta 3 of Windows 2000 with a fervor usually reserved for complete, shipping products.
Officials at Dell Computer said the company would pre-install Windows 2000 on many of its PowerEdge servers, Precision workstations, OptiPlex PCs, and Latitude notebooks. The direct computer seller will begin taking orders in late May and deliver the beta-installed systems in June, according to Carl Everett, senior vice president and general manager of Dell's Personal Systems Group.
Also on tap from Dell is a Windows 2000 Readiness Advisor, a Web tool that will tell customers whether their existing systems are configured for Windows 2000.
Toshiba also created a Windows 2000 Beta 3 support Web site, which includes BIOS, drivers, and utilities for its line of notebooks, desktop PCs, and servers.
Unisys, a key partner for Microsoft's enterprise push, unveiled plans to use Beta 3 of Windows 2000 in its Microsoft Technology Center and Enterprise NT Performance Laboratories. The work Unisys engineers will do on the test version will prepare them -- and their customers -- for the final version of Windows 2000, Unisys officials said.
In all, Microsoft said that 20 OEMs will be shipping Beta 3 on new systems.
Microsoft Corp., in Redmond, Washington, is at http://www.microsoft.com/.