Microsoft's general manager for hardware and strategy, Carl Stork, gave a keynote address Wednesday at the Intel Developer Conference in Palm Springs, California, where he attempt to end, once and for all, the confusion over Windows 2000 and other future versions of Windows.

Verifying earlier reports in WinInfo, Stork says that "a single operating system code base is Microsoft's long term direction with a single development target for drivers, hardware, and testing" and that Windows 2000 will be the first product to result from this strategy. From then on, all new major Windows releases will be based on this single NT-based code base.

And the release date for Windows 2000? Stork didn't deviate from the "Q4 1999" predictions the company has publicly given previously. As reported in WinInfo, Microsoft is planning internally to ship Windows 2000 in October.

"Our target is \[1999\], but it depends on customer feedback," he said. "The driving factor is absolutely going to be quality."

As for the future, Stork didn't mention Windows 2001 (the consumer product that will replace Windows 98) specifically, but he did briefly discuss the 64-bit version of Windows, which will ship in mid-2000 when Intel unleashes its 64-bit Merced processor.

"As soon as IA64 systems ship we will ship \[64-bit\] Windows," Stork said, noting that Intel and Compaq Alpha versions would be made available.