Microsoft has confirmed that it will combine its efforts on Neptune, the consumer version of Windows 2000 (Win2K), with Odyssey, a professional version of Win2K, to create a single version for the next release of Win2K. In my view, this move amounts to Microsoft's cancellation of Neptune. Microsoft has also planned a consumer-oriented revision of Windows 98, code-named Millennium. So although Microsoft was planning to produce two Windows-branded OSs aimed at consumers—one based on the Windows NT kernel and one based on the Win9x kernel—it seems the company has rethought this decision. Paul Thurrott's WinInfo Web site broke this story. According to Thurrott, Microsoft is abandoning Neptune and Odyssey and replacing them with a single Win2K revision effort code-named Whistler. Thurrott said his information came from access to Microsoft documents marked Extreme Microsoft Internal. Thurrott wrote, "I'm not sure what forces were involved in bringing these two projects together. The recent reorganization might have had something to do with it. Some have argued that the rise of Steve Ballmer to the CEO role might have played a part. No matter: The decision was made to combine Neptune and Odyssey into Whistler. Sources tell me that Microsoft wants to provide a great computing experience for the business end user, building on Windows 2000 Professional, while providing a similar experience for home users along with improved compatibility, user interface enhancements, and other improvements by moving them to the Windows 2000 code base." I spoke to Thurrott on Monday, January 24. He said that he hadn’t received official confirmation from Microsoft, but “people have called me up from Microsoft. They can’t confirm, but they’ve asked me how I know this. They were surprised. It was extremely privileged information.” When I called Microsoft about the story, Microsoft public relations claimed no knowledge of the matter yesterday, but contacted me today to confirm. According to Microsoft, “Neptune is not being cancelled,” but the company is combining and streamlining Neptune and Odyssey. This process will result in one product that will likely be a professional, not a consumer, product. When I asked the company spokesperson why combining Neptune and Odyssey into one professional, business-oriented product was not the same as cancelling Neptune, the spokesperson said that Microsoft would get back to me. Later today, I received the following statement from Microsoft. "Neptune is a code-name associated with future NT-based operating system technologies specifically designed for the consumer. In an effort to streamline our Windows development efforts, the work being done on Neptune and Odyssey was combined into a singular effort now known as Whistler. We are unable to provide an interview as it's too early to discuss product specifics. Let me know if you have any further questions." However you say it, Neptune is no more. Now, Microsoft's consolidated efforts will produce one Windows business-oriented product and one Windows consumer-oriented product. Many industry analysts, including Thurrott, speculate that this streamlining is a result of Jim Allchin’s rise to power over the Windows empire. (For more information on Allchin's promotion, see "Do Microsoft Management Changes Signal the End of Millennium?")