Waiting for Windows 2000 Beta 3

Beta 3 of Windows 2000, due to be released to manufacturers by the end of the week, will be a feature-complete version of the client/server OS, and will include a handful of new ease-of-use and resource features, company officials said yesterday.

According to Jonathan Perera, Windows 2000 product manager, the final beta program will see Beta 3 -- which will be released by the end of Friday, April 30 -- in the hands of hundreds of thousands of testers.

In addition to the company's usual stable of beta testers, several OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) will ship Beta 3 on server and desktop systems.

The changes in Beta 3 that Perera and another Windows 2000 official, Craig Beilinson, outlined deal with integrating Windows 2000 with existing infrastructure, such as Exchange and features that lower the complexity surrounding the OS.

For example, Beilinson said Windows NT Workstation 4.0 users would be able to upgrade to Windows 2000 Professional with a "three-click" procedure. Users will be asked if they want to install the upgrade, if they agree to the user license and whether they want FAT32 on their system "and then that's it", Beilinson said.

Microsoft also has made some progress on the hardware compatibility front. Beta 2 of Windows 2000, released in August 1998, was tested for only five laptops, but Beilinson said that number has grown to 120 with Beta 3; likewise, the number of devices that are compatible has risen from about 3000 to more than 7000, he said.

On the server side, Beta 3 includes enhanced memory protection. Much of the read-write functionality found in NT has been closed to protect the kernel, Perera said.

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