According to Microsoft sources, the Windows XP (Whistler) Beta 2 release has slipped another week and now is due March 21. This is the second such delay for this crucial final beta of the next version of Windows, which Microsoft originally planned to ship by March 1. My sources tell me, however, that Windows XP is in good shape overall and that Microsoft is simply fixing a small group of remaining bugs that the company deems critical for this release. Recent pre-Beta 2 builds of the OS bear out this news; Microsoft internally released Windows XP build 2456 the end of last week.
"There is no escrow build," one source told me Friday. "There are just some bugs to fix. Beta 2 is going to rock." Friday, this source predicted that a delay of a week or so was inevitable. And by yesterday, a second source confirmed the rumor: Windows XP Beta 2 will slip another week, from March 14 to March 21. But this delay, as it were, is based on internal schedules. Publicly, Microsoft has committed only to shipping Beta 2 in the first quarter, so the company technically has until the end of the month to save face.
Windows XP is on an accelerated development schedule that closely mirrors last year's development of Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me). Last year, Windows Me also lost ground in the first quarter when Microsoft added Windows 2000 networking components to the OS, causing compatibility problems. The Windows XP delay, however, isn't as serious, and Microsoft is simply trying to ensure that this widely available release is as stable and reliable as possible. Indeed, given the project's 1-year development time, its status is somewhat remarkable. The Windows XP team has been able to develop the most impressive version of Windows ever in an extremely short time.