NT 4.0 beta 2 arrives overdue, promises much

Microsoft this week will ship the second beta versions of its Windows NT 4.0 Workstation and Server operating systems, more than six weeks later than the company's original rollout plan.

Sources close to Microsoft says that NT beta testers were dissatisfied by instabilities that showed up when developers added new features to NT.

Microsoft has reworked the OS, and 200,000 beta testers will begin receiving NT later this week, according to Megan Bliss, Windows NT Workstation product manager.

Corporate users are watching the rollout of Windows NT closely, because many companies think NT 4.0 Workstation, and not Windows 95, will be the better enterprise client.

NT 4.0 Server adds several coveted features, including Peer Web Services, new Systems Policy software and Point to Point Tunneling.

Both versions of NT 4.0 will, for the first time, include Distributed COM (formerly Network OLE), Microsoft's long-anticipated architecture for distributed computing.

Even though the rollout is behind schedule, Microsoft officials insist they will make their late-US summer release date.

Analysts are giving Microsoft the benefit of the doubt.

"I do think it's a realistic promise," says Dwight Davis, editor of Windows Watcher, in Redmond, Washington. "NT 4.0 seems to be shaping up to follow Win95's rollout schedule. You'll recall that this time last year there were reservations about getting Win95 out in time for summer, but they made it."

Microsoft has not decided on pricing for NT 4.0 Workstation and Server, but officials say they do not anticipate any radical price changes from the current versions.

Windows NT 4.0, Beta 2

New features in NT Workstation

-- Distributed COM

-- Systems Policy software

-- Crypto APIs

-- Peer Web Services

-- Direct Draw

-- Direct Sound

Additional new features in NT Server

-- Point to Point Tunneling

-- Remote Access Server auto-dial and multilink

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