Thanks to Chris Walker for the tip: Microsoft has posted the third beta release of Windows ME to MSDN Online; MSDN Professional and Universal subscribers can download it today and expect to see the release in a future monthly shipment. WinInfo readers may recall that Microsoft didn't originally plan to include Windows ME in MSDN, a developer resource, but immediately reversed that decision due to a massive customer call-in and write-in campaign. It all began in February, when numerous readers complained about the omission, and a call to Microsoft revealed the intent: They told me that MSDN wasn't shipping Windows ME because the OS was designed for consumers, and MSDN targets developers. Wouldn't developers want to work on software that runs on Microsoft's consumer OS as well, I asked: That way, they could target 100% of the market, not just Microsoft's as-yet-unreleased business OS. Microsoft told me they would evaluate the decision based on customer feedback.

Well, that feedback was overwhelming and, within days, Microsoft reversed course, promising to add Windows Millennium Edition ("Windows ME") to the MSDN shipment beginning with the Beta 3 release. And that promise was realized this week, as Windows ME Beta 3 is now available for download.

Windows ME Beta 3 is a feature-complete look at Microsoft's next consumer operating system, which also marks the end of the Windows 9x line of products. An upcoming consumer Windows product, code-named "Whistler", will be based on Windows 2000, which uses the NT kernel. I'm about half done with a massive review of Windows ME Beta 3, that I'll post this week to the SuperSite for Windows. Stay tuned