Because Wall Street has become so apprehensive about technology stocks lately, Microsoft pre-announced its third quarter earnings on Tuesday, and stated that it would easily beat earnings estimates. Microsoft chief financial officer Greg Maffei made the announcement in a conference call with financial analysts.

"I'm happy to report that Microsoft's business remains quite good," said Maffei. "We expect our third fiscal quarter will exceed analysts' expectations of 44 cents by about 4 cents or a little more."

As usual, Microsoft cautioned that future earnings were bound to fall.

"I want to make a point: Growth is slowing," he said.

Maffei said that a new version of Office was expected in 1999 (as reported previously in WinInfo) and that Windows 98--due in June--isn't expected to provide much boost to Microsoft's bottom line. He also said that the "final" beta (his word, not mine) was expected "sometime in the summer," with its final release coming six to nine months after that. That places the release of Windows NT 5.0 squarely in Q1 1999.

Microsoft will officially announce its quarterly earnings on April 22nd