Microsoft sent Build 2195 of Windows 2000 to manufacturing last week, signalling the end of production of the long-awaited next-generation client/server operating system.
The move will ensure that Windows 2000, the upgrade to Windows NT 4.0, is available on February 17, the date Microsoft has set to launch the product, company officials said.
Three Windows 2000 products -- Windows 2000 Professional, the desktop client; Windows 2000 Server; and Windows 2000 Advanced Server -- were released to manufacturing. A fourth offering, Windows 2000 DataCenter, is still in production and is expected to be released in 2000.
"Windows 2000 Advanced Server is the operating system of choice for the new generation [of] industry-standard eight-way systems," said James Allchin, group vice president of the Platforms group at Microsoft. "This is the [product] for dot-coms and line of business applications."
The basic Windows 2000 Server will support four-way symmetric multiprocessing, according to Allchin.
The customers and vendors participating in Microsoft's testing and early deployment programs signed off on Windows 2000 on Monday, according to Brian Valentine, head of Microsoft's Windows Division. Internally, Microsoft deployed Windows 2000 some time ago, including the 300 servers that run Microsoft's Web site, Valentine said.
Participants in Microsoft's Rapid Deployment Program will be able to get the Windows 2000 code immediately, according to Deborah Willingham, vice president of the Business Enterprise Division at Microsoft. Members of the company's Select licensing program, which consists of large-enterprise customers, will receive Windows 2000 on CDs in early January, she said.
By pointing to several companies that are already deploying Windows 2000, the Microsoft executives tried to tamp down conventional industry wisdom that corporations should wait until the first service pack is released before rolling out the OS.
"Microsoft is making the case, subtly perhaps, that companies are moving forward on this based on their experience with the betas and release-candidate code and [that] you don't want to miss the boat by waiting too long to roll this out," said Dwight Davis, a Kirkland, Wash.-based analyst at Summit Strategies.
The software giant insists that Windows 2000 will be more reliable, scalable, secure, and Web-friendly than its predecessor, as well as less expensive to maintain. In recent weeks, Allchin has stressed the dozens of millions of dollars and hundreds of work years that Microsoft has invested in this release.
The long and winding road to Windows 2000* 1995: Cairo, code name for Windows NT 3.51 upgrade, is slated to ship.
* September 1996: Windows NT 4.0 ships, with some Cairo functionality.
* November 1996: Microsoft previews Active Directory and announces that Cairo, now called Windows NT 5.0, is slated to ship in 1997.
* September 1997: Microsoft releases Windows NT 4.0, Enterprise Edition, and Beta 1 of NT 5.0 and announces that NT 5.0 is expected to ship in 1998.
* August 1998: Microsoft buys Valence Research for load-balancing software; NT 5.0, Beta 2, is released.
* October 1998: NT 5.0 name is changed to Windows 2000.
* April 1999: Windows 2000, Beta 3 ships.
* November 1999: Microsoft sets Feb. 17, 2000, launch date for Windows 2000.