Last Win2000 beta due

Microsoft will issue a third and final release candidate of Windows 2000 around the second week of November as the last test version before it ships code to manufacturing before year's end.

Release Candidate 3 will go to between several hundred and a few thousand of Microsoft's most strategic beta customers rather than the roughly 750,000 who have been testing Windows 2000 for more than a year, said Craig Beilinson, lead product manager of the operating system.

"The goal of RC3 is to make sure we've really got the final buy-off before we release it to manufacturing," Beilinson says.

The version, which will be delivered to testers in large companies in the early development and deployment programs, is the sixth prerelease version of Windows 2000 distributed. It will help Microsoft ensure that the changes it makes based on feedback about RC2, which was released September 15, are stable. Beilinson declines to say what changes are in RC3, however.

Analyst Joe Clabby of the Aberdeen Group in Boston said any extra steps Microsoft makes to ship stable code are crucial.

"Microsoft has a huge vested interest in making sure that Windows 2000 does not fall on its face," he says. "This release is one of the most complex versions of NT that they have ever done. This is a huge quality-assurance effort. I think it's prudent of them."

Clabby says he expects code to be released to manufacturing by the second week in December, and for it to be shipped to the first users during the last week of the year.

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