Whistler: A Look Back at Windows XP Pre-Release Versions

Codenamed Whistler, Windows XP was in development for less than two years and finally consolidated the previously separate Windows 9x and NT/2000 product lines. It also added the first major new UI skin to the system since Windows 95, providing a completely different look and feel than previous Windows versions while retaining the same usage model.

Paul Thurrott

July 18, 2011

7 Min Read
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In 2000, Microsoft faced a situation it would later face in the wake of Windows Vista: It's previous OS, in that case Windows 2000, had just launched but was years late and didn't fulfill all of the goals that the company had originally envisioned for that release. More specifically, Microsoft had hoped--and had announced--it would meld its consumer (Windows 9x) and business (NT) versions of Windows into a single code base with Windows 2000. But since that didn't happen, it plotted a quick update to Windows 2000, which was eventually marketed as Windows XP.

Codenamed Whistler, Windows XP was in development for less than two years and did indeed finally consolidate the previously separate Windows product lines. It also added the first major new UI skin to the system since Windows 95, providing a completely different look and feel than previous Windows versions while retaining the same usage model.

Here, you can find my Whistler-era reviews and other articles. I'll cover the "RTM" (final, shipping) version of Windows XP as well as the SP1, SP2, and SP3 updates in a future retrospective. As before, the articles at the top are newer.

Windows XP Release Candidate Tips 'n' Tricks - July 5, 2001

Please note that some of these tips might require you to use a Registry Editor (regedit.exe), which could render your system unusable. Thus, none of these tips are supported in any way: Use them at your own risk.

Windows XP Release Candidate 1 Screenshots - June 29, 2001

Here are some screenshots of Windows XP Release Candidate 1 (RC1).

Windows XP Release Candidate 1 (RC1) Review - June 29, 2001

Windows XP has finally entered that final, almost boring, stage of development, where the product doesn't change that much from build to build, but bugs are squashed, the user interface is refined, and small visual changes are added in a bid to improve its fit and finish.

Introducing Windows 64-Bit Editions: Windows XP 64-Bit Edition & Windows Advanced Server LE - June 11, 2001

On May 22, 2001, I attended a technical preview of Microsoft's 64-bit Windows products at the company's campus in Mountain View, California. The location was chosen because of its proximity to Intel and its hardware partners, such as Hewlett-Packard, which have been working on a new 64-bit hardware platform called IA-64 (Intel Architecture 64-bit).

Windows XP Build 2465 Gallery - April 26, 2001

User interface changes highlight the first post-Beta 2 build

Windows XP Networking: Wireless and Home Networking - February 13, 2001

Since the release of Windows 95 in August 1995, each desktop version of Windows has evolved to include ever more powerful, yet easy-to-use, networking capabilities. This tradition continues in Windows XP, which will make wireless networking easier than ever, and home networking safer than ever. In this showcase, I'll be taking a look at the networking advances in Windows XP.

Windows XP Home Features - February 13, 2001

Overwhelmingly, Windows XP is about the home user. Years after the initial push toward an iterative, activity-based user interface in its aborted "Neptune" project, Microsoft has delivered a user interface in Windows XP that delivers on the promise of integrated experiences.

Windows XP Deployment - February 13, 2001

For consumers and business desktop users alike, Windows XP delivers a compelling upgrade over existing Windows 9x and 2000 clients. To ensure that both types of users experience the easiest possible upgrade or clean installation, Microsoft has made improvements to the deployment features of the operating system. And because Microsoft knows that most users upgrade to Windows by purchasing a new PC, special attention has been given to this area as well. In this showcase, we'll take a look at the Windows XP deployment advances.

Windows XP Hardware and Software Compatibility - February 13, 2001

To answer critics of Windows 2000, Microsoft has made improvements to the foundations of the operating system, in areas such as application experience and device compatibility, finally delivering the NT kernel in an OS with the compatibility of Windows 9x. But Microsoft hasn't compromised the stability of Windows XP by introducing legacy 9x code. Instead, a new set of technologies will ensure that software and hardware just works. The results, frankly, are amazing.

Windows XP Home Edition vs. Professional Edition: What's the Difference? - February 13, 2001

With the inclusion of a new consumer-oriented version of Windows XP, there has been some confusion surrounding the differences between this product, Windows XP Home Edition, and its more upscale sibling, Windows XP Professional Edition. Microsoft is targeting Home Edition at consumers and Professional at business users and power users.

Windows XP User Interface Gallery - February 13, 2001

A collection of screenshots of Windows XP Beta 2.

Windows XP Beta 2 Review - February 13, 2001

Clearly, Windows XP is the most important operating system release since Windows 95. And it's not just because this release includes the first major user interface (UI) change since then, though that's certainly one of the more obvious changes. No, Windows XP has been updated, tweaked, improved, and massaged from top to bottom, in order to create an OS that is equally useful for new users, typical home users, power users, and business desktops.

Introducing the Windows XP "Luna" User Interface - February 13, 2001

Here, revealed for the first time: The Windows XP user interface, codenamed Luna.

Whistler Build 2416: Someone's Listening - January 17, 2001

Key complaints from 2410 are quickly answered in this new build.

Whistler Build 2410: On the Road To Beta 2 - January 16, 2001

Whistler has come a long way since its alpha and Beta 1 releases last year. For desktop users--consumers and business desktops--Whistler will be a fairly dramatic release offering numerous simplification and ease of use changes, along with a host of small fixes and changes designed at answering core user requests.

Whistler Beta 1 Review - November 10, 2000

With "Whistler," the next version of Windows, Microsoft has finally jettisoned the old DOS-based Windows 9x line in favor of the NT-based Windows 2000 product family. As such, Whistler will ship in the same Professional, Server, and Advanced Server versions that we saw with Windows 2000, but it will also include a Personal edition for consumers as well as 64-bit versions of Professional, Server, and Advanced Server for users with Intel Itanium (IA-64) machines.

Whistler Build 2257 Preview - September 4, 2000

Unlike Windows 2000 (then called NT 5.0) Beta 1, Whistler is just bursting with usabilty, and even at this early stage, it's already apparent that the Whistler team is much, much further along then they were at the same point with Windows 2000.

Introducing the Whistler Preview, Build 2250 - July 17, 2000

Like Windows 3.1, Whistler is a point release upgrade to a major operating system release that's going to change everything. We could debate Microsoft's version numbering scheme for eternity, but the simple truth of the matter is that Whistler--Windows version 5.1, likely to be named Windows.NET ("Windows Dot Net") 1.0 when it's released in late 2001--is going to be a must-have upgrade for all Windows users.

Whistler COM+ 2.0 Preview - June 12, 2000

COM+ 1.0 debuted with Windows 2000 in February 2000, merging the Microsoft Transaction Server (MTS) component host environment with COM, while adding a host of significant new features for developers, such as object pooling, loosely couple events, and queued components. But with Whistler, Microsoft is taking COM+ to the next level, focusing on three key areas: Scalability, availability and manageability.

Activity Centers Preview - May 18, 2000

In early 1999, Microsoft began work on a new user interface paradigm for Windows, dubbed "Activity Centers," that is designed to facilitate a task-based approach to personal computing. Though a large number of Activity Centers were originally slated for inclusion in Windows Millennium Edition, Microsoft won't fully realize the Activity Centers vision until Whistler, due in Q2 2000.

Fusion Preview: "Run Once, Run Forever" - May 4, 2000

Fusion is an internal code-name that Microsoft has never publicly discussed, and future versions of this technology may actually solve the DLL hell problem once and for all.

Windows "Whistler" 2001 Preview - April 20, 2000

Whistler is not a bare-metal rewrite of Windows 2000, but rather a sometimes-subtle refresh of its predecessor. And at this early stage, there aren't any dramatic changes, not yet.

Windows XP ("Whistler") FAQ - Various dates, 2000-2001

Windows XP is the most important release of Windows since Windows 95. Here's the first--and most comprehensive--Windows XP FAQ anywhere, extensively updated with all-new information about the final, shipping version of Windows XP.

About the Author(s)

Paul Thurrott

Paul Thurrott is senior technical analyst for Windows IT Pro. He writes the SuperSite for Windows, a weekly editorial for Windows IT Pro UPDATE, and a daily Windows news and information newsletter called WinInfo Daily UPDATE.

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