Neptune: Merged or Purged?

The consumer Windows 2000 (Win2K) OS is no more. For some time, Microsoft has planned to create two consumer versions of Windows, but the company recently reevaluated its product offerings and decided to create only one consumer version of Windows. Until late January, the Microsoft software roadmap included two future versions of Win2K: a consumer version, code-named Neptune, and a professional version, code-named Odyssey. Plans for two Win2K versions seemed odd because Microsoft was also planning a consumer-oriented revision of Windows 98, Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me).

Paul Thurrott, Windows 2000 Magazine UPDATE news editor, was the first to uncover Microsoft's change in plans. According to Thurrott, Microsoft is abandoning Neptune and Odyssey and replacing them with one Win2K-based effort, code-named Whistler. In his Windows 2000 Magazine UPDATE column, Thurrott claimed access to Microsoft documents marked "Extreme Microsoft Internal."

Thurrott wrote, "The decision was made to combine Neptune and Odyssey into Whistler. Sources tell me that Microsoft wants to provide a great computing experience for the business end user, building on Windows 2000 Professional, while providing a similar experience for home users along with improved compatibility, user interface enhancements, and other improvements by moving them to the Windows 2000 code base."

A Microsoft spokesperson said the company isn't canceling Neptune but combining and streamlining Neptune and Odyssey. This streamlining will result in one product, not two, and Whistler will likely be a professional, not a consumer, product. I asked the spokesperson whether combining Neptune and Odyssey into one professional, business-oriented product isn't, in fact, the same as canceling Neptune. I'm still waiting for the spokesperson to get back to me, and Microsoft is yet to provide more details on its Web site.

However you view the change in plans, Neptune is no more. But the merge makes sense—now Microsoft will offer one Windows business-oriented product and one Windows consumer-oriented product. Streamlining the plans for a consumer product also means that product development will require only one team, so the team can concentrate on adding features and improvements to Windows Me instead of confusing the marketplace.

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