Bowing to customer feedback, Microsoft Corporation has decided to return support for legacy networking software to Windows ME, its upcoming follow-up to Windows 98. Originally, Microsoft had planned to remove any features from Windows ME that were not applicable to the home market, and this included software for Netware networking, which is typically used only in corporate circles. But complaints from customers, who will now attempt to use this consumer product in the workplace for some reason, prompted the reversal.

"Based on feedback from partners and customers, we'll put \[the legacy network clients\] back in," said Microsoft product manager Shawn Sanford.

Microsoft had hoped to draw a line in the sand with Windows ME, which was to be the first version of Windows ever targeted specifically and solely at the home market. Windows ME includes a number of features that are completely unsuitable for the business market, and the company points to Windows 2000 Professional as the perfect desktop solution for that market. However, some of Microsoft's customer complained that Windows 2000 Professional costs much more than Windows 98/Windows ME and was therefore prohibitively expensive. And of course, the decision to drop support for competing networking software came under close scrutiny in the wake of the antitrust trial. Wisely, perhaps, Microsoft decided to simply return the software to Windows ME and quiet the critics.

Windows ME focuses on a number of consumer-oriented features, such as digital media, the Internet experience, home networking, and "PC health," a nebulous term that describes the overall reliability and stability of the system. The OS will be released to manufacturing on June 2, 2000 and become available to consumers approximately six weeks after that