Microsoft Corporation yesterday signed off on the first Release Candidate (RC) for Windows 2000, signaling the beginning of the end for the product's beta cycle and the wind-down to its final release this fall. Windows 2000 RC1, the first of two expected Release Candidate (the second is due in early September) follows the "feature complete" Beta 3 release, which became available in late April.

The biggest news with this release, of course, is that it silences the critics, who claimed that Windows 2000 would never make its late 1999 target date. With the RC1 release coming in right on target, however, Microsoft is set to deliver the final version of Windows 2000 in October or November, just in time for Fall Comdex in Las Vegas. Uncork the bubbly, people, Windows 2000 is here and it's for real.

"Delivering Windows 2000 to customers by the end of the year is an important goal for Microsoft. The development team has a number of internal goals they are working toward fulfilling to help achieve this goal. Microsoft's goal is to ship this product in 1999 though ultimately, customer feedback will drive the ship date," the company announced.

Windows 2000 RC1 will be sent to customers of the Windows 2000 Corporate Preview Program (CPP) as well as technical beta testers and MSDN Professional and Universal subscribers