MS to delay NT 5.0, release a public beta!

According to reports, Microsoft will let the Windows NT 5.0 release date slip yet again as long as it means the upcoming operating system--which Bill Gates says Microsoft "is betting the company on"--is ready to compete with on even ground with UNIX. To meet this goal, NT will have to be stable, secure, scalable, and ready for multiple simultaneous users, just like UNIX.

Microsoft says it will release a second beta "refresh" (the first came in March) this week to the 3000 attendees at the Windows NT 5.0 Deployment Conference in San Jose, California. Beta 2 of NT 5.0, which will include fully working IntelliMirror and Active Directory features, will slip from July to a late Summer release. Even more telling, Beta 2 will not be feature-complete, as previously planned.

Given this, Microsoft is now planning a third beta release which will include Terminal Server 2.0, for multi-user support. NT 5.0 Beta 3 is due later this year; how much later depends on the feedback they get from Beta 2. Best of all, though: Beta 3 will be available to the general public, so anyone who wants to check it out will be able to get it. Mike Nash, group product manager for Windows NT Server, says that Beta 3 will also include Internet Explorer 5.0.

Microsoft has been uncharacteristically realistic about the NT release schedule, generally only giving vague time periods, rather than exact dates for various beta releases.

"We can give probabilities," said Microsoft CEO Bill Gates last week about Windows NT 5.0. "There's almost no possibility it will be \[released\] in 1998. There's a high probability it will be in the first half of 1999. That's different than a ship date.

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