I've received word that Microsoft Corporation has released the Beta 2 version of the next revision of Windows 98, code-named "Millennium". Windows Millennium Beta 2 visually resembles Windows 2000, but is built on the Windows 98 core. Since its first developers release in July, Millennium has been tweaked for better performance and stability, while adding a couple of new features such as its Application Manager and Game Options Control Panel, System File Protection, and more.

The Millennium Application Manager and Game Options applet is designed to aid users in the installation and management of games. When games that support the Application Manager are installed, their disk space usage can be managed automatically, so that frequently used games get the space they need while infrequently used titles can be setup to use a CD-ROM disk instead.

Millennium's System File Protection (SFP) feature is based on the Windows 2000 equivalent and it prevents errant applications from overwriting key system files and replacing them with older versions.

Millennium further enables home networking through increased hardware support and its built-in Internet Connection Sharing feature. It also features Universal Plug and Play, a technological first for the OS. Internet Explorer 5.5 Beta, which was recently distributed to a limited group of beta testers, is also included in Millennium Betas 2. This release of IE improves the browser through enhanced printing capabilities, performance, and integrated platform support.

Microsoft's goal for Millennium is to deliver on four key areas: PC health ("It Just Works"), digital media and entertainment, the online experience, and home networking. Microsoft tells me that it is committed to delivering Windows Millennium in the year 2000. I'll be covering all of the cool new stuff in Millennium when I post my massive review of this release to my SuperSite, hopefully sometime next week. Stay tuned for an announcement about my Millennium Beta 2 review