Technical beta testers, RDP members, and other Microsoft partners will be receiving new builds every 5 to 8 weeks after Beta 3, says Brian Valentine, the VP of Microsoft's Windows 2000 engineering group. Valentine says the suddenly stepped-up release cycle is designed to get "fresh code" into the hands of testers for the remainder of the year, until Windows 2000 is released to manufacturing.

"The plan is to drop out a \[release candidate\] every 5 to 8 weeks to all our partners," he said during the Windows 2000 Beta 3 announcement Thursday. "There was a long period of time between Beta 2 and Beta 3. We'll be keeping all testing sites very fresh with software from now on. The new drops will contain fixes based on feedback from testers."

Valentine says that the focus for Windows 2000 is now on quality and reliability: The feature set is frozen and Microsoft is working to clean up lingering bugs, improve performance (which is already notably better since Beta 2 anyway) and get Windows 2000 Beta 3 deployed as often as possible. Indeed, Microsoft is in the process of moving all of its production servers to Windows 2000 Beta 3.

"The Windows 2000 team is jazzed about Beta 3," Valentine says