Late Tuesday, Microsoft announced the first beta release of the next version of Windows, code-named "Whistler," which was given to key partners and customers, as well as independent hardware and software developers through the MSDN program. Whistler Beta 1 (build 2296) has been issued so that Microsoft can gather feedback and test hardware and software compatibility. The goal, according to the company, is to enhance the home user features introduced in Windows Me while expanding on the performance, reliability and availability from Windows 2000. Based entirely on the Windows 2000 code-base, Whistler will unite Microsoft's consumer and business offerings for the first time.
"The release of Whistler Beta 1 represents the next step in delivering on our vision for Windows and will provide software and hardware vendors with a single code-base on which to develop applications and devices for both home and business PC users," says Microsoft senior VP Brian Valentine, who oversees the Windows Division at Microsoft. "This release will help us continue to receive the feedback we need, which will help ensure broad compatibility of software applications and hardware devices and ultimately provide the best customer experience."
Whistler Beta 1 is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, so that customers can test the OS on today's platforms as well as advance versions of Intel's next-generation Itanium. And to ensure that customers can get their hands on this next generation operating system as quickly as possible, Microsoft also announced that it is planning a phased rollout of Whistler, which will allow Microsoft to keep to its yearly release schedule for consumers. "Whistler represents a significant milestone for the industry by bringing the reliability of the Windows 2000 code base to both business and home PC users," a Microsoft spokesperson told WinInfo Daily Update. "In order to bring the reliability of Windows 2000 to consumers as soon as possible, and to address the feedback from enterprise customers, Microsoft plans a phased release of Whistler, beginning with the desktop products, followed by the server versions. Both the desktop and server versions are expected to be generally available in the second half of 2001."
I will be providing a comprehensive review of Whistler Beta 1 on the SuperSite for Windows as soon as possible