Microsoft has pushed the release of Whistler Beta 1 back a month to October, but the company says that it is on track to release this upcoming update to Windows 2000 next summer, with a retail release "in time for back-to-school" 2001. Whistler, which will finally unite its consumer-oriented Windows 9x line with the NT-based, business-ready Windows 2000, will ship in a variety of configurations designed to serve Microsoft's most important customers. The October Beta 1 release will include Personal, Professional, Server, and Advanced Server editions.

"We are really now driving to a single code base across our entire Windows product line," said Microsoft senior vice president Brian Valentine, who became responsible for the development of Windows 2000 in late 1998. Valentine noted that unifying the two previously-separate Windows projects will save Microsoft money and development time. "It cost us a lot to have those two code bases in the company," he said. "By driving to a single core technology, it just makes the whole industry more efficient." Valentine's comments came at a yearly financial analysts meeting.

Valentine says that Whistler--which will likely be marketed as Windows.NET ("Windows Dot Net") 1.0--will be the first Windows product to embrace Microsoft's .NET "software as service" initiative. And though Whistler won't be a full version of the .NET vision, it will offer a variety of .NET features, including support non-PC devices and software services. Whistler will also feature a new "skinnable" user interface, simplification improvements, better, easier to use security, and vastly improved boot times--Valentine says that the goal is to get boot time down to 10 seconds on new hardware