According to a report in CRN, Microsoft will ship Whistler Beta 2 in February, and a public beta of the OS "in 60 to 90 days." The report, which remains unconfirmed by Microsoft, refers to Whistler as "Windows 2000 version 2" and it's follow-up, known as Blackcomb, as "Windows 2000 version 3." And while Microsoft wouldn't divulge its timetable, the company did admit that it is trying to wedge as much .NET functionality into Whistler as is possible, so that users of Visual Studio.NET can create applications targeting .NET that will run on Whistler. CRN notes that Whistler Beta 2 will feature an "adjustable" user interface, and cross-forest Active Directory management capabilities.

CRN added that Whistler Beta 2 will include a newer version of DirectX 8, Windows Media Player 8, firewall features, and Internet Explorer 6. And in an odd comment, the report noted that "Microsoft plans to position Whistler as the user interface for its next generation of .Net servers, including SQL Server.Net, code-named Yukon." CRN says Microsoft will try and release Whistler Personal and Professional by mid-2001. Microsoft CEO and President said last year that the company was targeting Q3 2001.

I'll have more on Whistler Beta 2 the second it arrives, but in the meantime, please check out my Whistler previews on the SuperSite for Windows, which have been updated with information about recent builds.