Microsoft Corporation provided its first official peek at "Whistler," the next version of Windows 2000, this week at WinHEC, the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference. But unlike Windows 2000, Whistler will feature a componentized architecture that will allow systems makers to strip away various layers of the operating system so that it will work well on even the smallest handheld devices. And that's the big difference between Windows 2000 and its follow-up: Whistler is designed to replace virtually ever operating system that Microsoft produces, aside from Windows CE.
As described by Windows general manager Carl Stork, who presented a Whistler road map at WinHEC, Whistler will initially be made available in four versions, one each for consumers, office PC users, servers, and data centers. Each of the server versions will ship simultaneously in 32-bit and 64-bit variants, and all versions are expected to become available sometime in 2001. But it's the new componentization of the OS that had developers most excited: Microsoft promises that Whistler will be equally at home on non-PC devices as it will on PCs. Stork's presentation even included a mention of "a smart refrigerator device," stripped of all graphics components.
But you don't have to wait on Microsoft to preview Whistler: I've written up an exhaustive look at a pre-beta build of Whistler that's now available on the SuperSite for Windows. This early look at Whistler shows an OS that's clearly based on Windows 2000, though it features some user interface elements from Windows Me and many other ease-of-use improvements