Special Report: Beta 2 a Bigger Distribution Than Beta 1

Microsoft Corp.'s Beta 2 of Windows 2002 and Windows XP is a far more ambitious distribution than the Beta 1 release that preceded it.

Microsoft will ship copies of Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional and Windows 2002 to approximately 300,000 end users.

"It's definitely a much larger effort than the first beta, which was distributed on a pretty limited basis," says Rob Enderle, a research fellow with Giga Information Group.

Windows 2002 Beta 2 follows closely the business desktop and consumer-line restructuring and re-branding effort that Microsoft officially announced in February.

The software giant at that time confirmed it was on track to fold its business desktop OS, Windows 2000 Professional, and the final release of the Win9x line, Windows Millennium, into a single operating system kernel.

Microsoft's new desktop OSes - Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home Edition - would be available for both corporate and home users, respectively.

In this respect, says Giga's Enderle, Beta 2 should function primarily to give many users a taste of what's to come in Microsoft's next-generation desktop operating system.

"This one's more about giving users a first peek at Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home Edition than about Whistler Server," Enderle says, referring to the codename for Windows 2002.

Gavin Burris, a systems administrator with the Pennsylvania State University's Computer Visualization Group, agrees.

"I installed [Windows XP Professional and Windows 2002] on a test box at home, and they both run fairly well, actually, for Microsoft beta products," he says. "There's a lot of new eye candy, and the interface for Windows XP has been completely redesigned, but I don't know that there's a whole lot of new stuff under the hood of Whistler Server yet."

Windows XP Professional brings management niceties such as a system rollback feature, which can let administrators restore a damaged system to one of several past configurations, and a host of new wizards designed to simplify tasks such as publishing materials to the Web.

Windows XP Professional Beta 2 also sports Microsoft's highly touted "Luna" interface, a complete GUI redesign that replaces the familiar silver-on-green and silver-on-blue interfaces that first shipped with the Windows 9x/NT and Windows Me/2000 operating systems.

Windows XP Professional also features a new login environment that replaces the familiar Windows NT/2000 "Press CTRL+ALT+DELETE" login screen with a "Welcome Screen" - that provides a graphical listing of usernames on a single screen.

Users can disconnect from a desktop session and exit to the Welcome Screen while their applications continue to run securely in the background; other users can then log in. – Stephen Swoyer

More Articles in ENT’s Special Report on Windows 2002 Beta 2:
Microsoft Renames Whistler 'Windows 2002'
Windows 2002 Takes Shape With Beta 2
IIS Architecture Overhauled for Reliability in 6.0
Microsoft Looking to Shift Its Server Mix With Windows 2002
Beta 2 Distribution on a Much Bigger Scale Than Beta 1
Column: Don't Lose Sleep over Windows XP
ENT's Coverage of Microsoft's Beta 1 Release of Whistler

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.