Microsoft Corporation last week gave technical beta testers their first look at Millennium, the next version of Windows for consumers, which is scheduled to ship late next year. This initial release is a "pre-beta" designed for developers and other technical reviewers only; as such, it doesn't represent an accurate look at the final product. Microsoft group product manager Shawn Sanford says that the new release will be easier to use than Windows 98.

"Millennium is going to be a very significant release for home users," Sanford says. "We're really working toward simplifying the computing experience for home users."

According to Sanford, Millennium is designed to improve the Internet experience, make it easy to setup a home network, and make it easy to work with vide, audio, and graphical images. Indeed, Microsoft will focus Millennium on the following technologies:

  • Digital Media and Entertainment: The Consumer Windows Division will focus on enabling users to take advantage of all this new content, making it easy to access, play/view and store as well as providing an enhanced PC gaming experience.

  • Online Experience: Consumer Windows will provide consumers with a premier home online experience. Consumers will be able to easily connect to the Web, locate desired content and determine which content is right for their family.

  • Home Networking: Networking at home is becoming a reality for more people. Consumer Windows will simplify the process of connecting multiple computers in the home, enabling users to share information and an Internet connection.

  • "It Just Works": The Consumer Windows Division is committed to providing consumers with a solution that 'just works,' from the moment a user starts their PC and throughout their daily computing experience. This promise will be delivered upon by the advancement of the PC's self-healing functionality, in addition to providing a simpler set-up and a great out-of-the-box experience for new computer users.
"The Consumer Windows Division is focused on truly making computing easy for consumers," says David Cole, vice president of the Consumer Windows Division at Microsoft. "We are excited to reach this first milestone on the path toward delivering a version of Windows specifically designed to enable consumers to take full advantage of their PCs in the 21st century.