It's official! Microsoft Corporation announced today that it is renaming Windows NT 5.0 to Windows 2000 as it ushers in the most important update ever to its line of 32-bit operating systems.

"We will also firmly establish Windows NT as the mainstream version of Windows for business on both the client and server. Moreover, in the future, the NT kernel will be the basis for all of Microsoft's PC operating systems--from consumer PCs to the highest performance servers," the company wrote in the official announcement.

The Windows NT 5.0 product line will be renamed as Windows 2000, though the tagline "Built on NT Technologies" will be thrown about as well. Here is Microsoft's description of the new products and names:

Windows 2000 Professional (formerly Windows NT Workstation 5.0) is Microsoft's mainstream desktop operating system for business of all sizes. Windows 2000 Professional delivers the easiest Windows yet, the highest level of security, state-of-the-art features for mobile users, industrial-strength reliability, and better performance while lowering the total cost of ownership through improved manageability.

Windows 2000 Server (formerly Windows NT Server 5.0) offers industry-leading functionality and will support new systems with up to 2-way SMP. Ideal for small to medium enterprise application deployments, Web servers, workgroups, and branch offices, Microsoft expects this version of Windows 2000 to be the most popular server version. Existing Windows NT Server 4.0 systems with up to 4-way SMP can be upgraded to Windows 2000 Server.

Windows 2000 Advanced Server (formerly Windows NT Server 5.0 Enterprise Edition) is a more powerful departmental and application server, which also provides rich NOS and Internet services. Supporting new systems with up to four-way SMP, and/or large physical memories, this new product offering is ideal for database-intensive work, and integrates clustering and load balancing support to provide excellent system and application availability. Existing Windows NT 4.0 Enterprise Edition servers with up to 8-way SMP can install Windows 2000 Advanced Server, which will be priced below today's Windows NT Server Enterprise Edition product.

Windows 2000 Datacenter Server (new) is the most powerful and functional server operating system ever offered by Microsoft. It supports up to 16-way SMP and up to 64GB of physical memory (depending on system architecture). Like Windows 2000 Advanced Server, it provides both clustering and load balancing services as standard features. It is optimized for large data warehouses, econometric analysis, large-scale simulations in science and engineering, OLTP and server consolidation projects.

The existing names for the Windows NT 4.0, Windows 98, and Windows CE product lines will not change