Allchin says XP RC2 to be available in days

Microsoft vice president Jim Allchin said Thursday that the second RC (release candidate) of Windows XP will be available shortly.

"During the next few days we will release RC2," Allchin said, speaking at Microsoft's Financial Analysts Day on Thursday on the company's corporate campus.

Allchin also touted the performance increases of Windows XP over previous versions, saying that Windows 2000, according to internal Microsoft studies, has received a 10-point increase in its customer satisfaction rate as compared to earlier Windows operating systems. He said the company expects Windows XP to improve on that.

To market the forthcoming XP, Microsoft will spend US$200 million in the next four months across a variety of media, with the goal of reaching its target audience in five ways.

Echoing the main focus areas for past Windows versions, Allchin said that Microsoft homed in on reliability and usability issues with Windows XP.

When the final version ships on Oct. 25, there will be two versions of Windows XP, a consumer and professional edition. Later, Microsoft will ship a 64-bit version of XP, Allchin added.

Professional is a superset of the consumer edition, adding wireless technologies, remote desktop capabilities, and manageability support. The 64-bit version is built on the same code base and is designed to run larger applications and to address larger memory capacities.

Allchin also said that Microsoft estimates that about 140 million PCs are older than 3 years old and that approximately 180 million PCs will be a ready for a new operating system, driving sales of Windows XP.

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