Officials from Microsoft are promising a "solid" Beta 3 release of Windows 2000 in April, a release that is much smaller than previous estimates and will solve most of the problems people have had with earlier releases of the eagerly-awaited operating system. Contrary to reports, Windows 2000 contains about 23 million lines of code, according to Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi, a far cry from the 50-60 million estimates.

Mehdi cites the improvements to Windows 2000 since last August's Beta 2 release, including Windows 9x upgrades, hardware compatibility (especially in the Professional Edition), memory usage and requirements, Active Directory, and COM+ integration.

Mehdi also repeated the official company line that Windows 2000 will ship only when "it's ready," hopefully by the end of the year. I've received information, however, that puts the final release in October, come hell or high water. We'll see.

Interestingly, Microsoft is also positioning Windows 2000 as the ultimate laptop OS, even for existing users of Windows 98. Previous versions of Windows NT have had only lackluster support for portables.

"It will be the best laptop OS, that's for sure, even if you use Windows 98," he said