Microsoft releases Millennium Beta 1. No, really

Microsoft Corporation has signed off on Millennium Beta 1, this time for real: In a message to technical beta testers and partners, the company has declared that last Friday's build, which was previously identified as Beta 1 by Microsoft's marketing team, is in fact Beta 1. Millennium improves on Windows 98 Second Edition, which it will replace when it is released next year, in the following four key categories:

  • "It just works" -- Millennium is easier to use, allowing customers to get the most out of their computer.

  • Digital media and entertainment -- Millennium is designed to facilitate the production, playback, storage of digital media, such as music, video, and graphic imagery. Millennium will also be the ultimate gaming operating system.

  • Home networking -- Millennium will make it easy to networking multiple computers together at home.

  • Online experience -- Millennium will make it easier to access the Web and find the information that users want.
Millennium is the first operating system to support the next generation of PC, known as the "Easy PC," which will provide a platform that is easy to setup, use, and upgrade. Easy PCs can take advantage of next generation hardware such as USB (and USB 2), FireWire/IEEE-1394, Device Bay, and more.

"The Consumer Windows Division is focused on truly making computing easy for consumers," said David Cole, vice president of the Consumer Windows Division at Microsoft.

Millennium Activity Center

But Millennium will not "change the face of computing" as one Web-based conjecture piece concludes. What it will do is offer a logical update to Windows 98 by providing the best of the Windows 2000 look and feel along with some HTML-based user interface elements that were previously thought to be the province of Neptune, the Consumer Windows release that will follow Millennium. And the Activity Centers in Millennium, including the Help Center, Photo Center, and Media Center, will be fully covered and explained on my SuperSite for Windows, along with a massive review of Beta 1, sometime in the next week

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