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Ballmer: XP May RTM Friday

Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said Windows XP will be released to manufacturing (RTM) this Friday, according to the Reuters news agency.

Ballmer delivered the news Monday at a technology conference in Brazil. Microsoft has committed to launching Windows XP on Oct. 25, although PC makers could begin shipping systems loaded with the OS several weeks earlier.

Windows XP is Microsoft's controversial next-generation client operating system. The most important aspect of the new OS is that, after years of Microsoft's promises, it finally marries the Windows NT and Windows 9.x code bases for a more stable client operating system.

But most of the attention the operating system has gotten relates to Microsoft's integration of its Passport services, Windows Media Player, messenger software and imaging software and for Redmond's decision to strip Java support from Windows XP.

Microsoft faces an array of forces opposed to the Windows XP release on a number of battlegrounds. The Department of Justice or state attorneys general could push for an injunction against the operating system's release on the grounds that the feature integration shows Microsoft is continuing the practices at the heart of the antitrust case.

Sen. Charles Schumer has called for U.S. Senate hearings on Windows XP. Two of his New York constituents, AOL-Time Warner and Kodak, had major competitive problems with the operating system, although Microsoft and Kodak have since reached an agreement on imaging software.

Privacy groups also moved for administrative action against Microsoft before the Federal Trade Commission.

Analyst Al Gillen with IDC says that despite all the "ominous things" going on, "I don't think this [RTM] is necessarily rushed."

"This seems about the right timing for them to do an RTM. They need to do the packaging, they need to get it into the hands of their partners and into the channel," Gillen says.

Gillen adds that the beta program has gone fairly smoothly with no major technical problems emerging with the operating system.

Microsoft shipped Release Candidate 1 to beta testers in early July and made Release Candidate 2 available on the Web at the end of July. When RC2 was posted, a Microsoft spokeswoman told ENT that there were no plans for a third release candidate.

About the Author

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