Windows 2000 won't easily shed the "often-delayed" tag, but Microsoft's promises to release it before the new millennium seem to be on track.
In an internal e-mail to development staff, Windows 2000 leaders last week congratulated the team for meeting a key milestone of the third and final beta, and set a goal for shipping the final version: October 6.
The timetable, which also lays out several interim milestones, affords plenty of wiggle room. Knowing that enterprise customers demand much higher reliability than consumers, Microsoft has pledged not to ship Windows 2000 until it's good and ready. But the breathing room may not be needed. The team is riding what one Microsoft source familiar with the situation described as a revival since Brian Valentine replaced Moshe Dunie as project lead.
Promoted in a December management shake-up to vice president of Windows development, Valentine's stock rose quickly during his previous work on the Exchange e-mail server. Known as an enthusiastic motivator, he once rode a motorcycle into a meeting dressed as Elvis.
This week's milestone, which brings the important third beta version of Windows 2000 about a month away from customers' hands, was set in January, when Valentine sent a memo exhorting his troops to give it their all. "Our credibility is on the line here," Valentine wrote. "We have to deliver."
Microsoft officials have long pegged Windows 2000, until recently known as NT 5.0, as the highest priority at the company. Just last week, president Steve Ballmer - no slouch himself when it comes to firing up the troops - told the Windows 2000 team that its product was the only important software project of 1999.