Microsoft is revving up the marketing engines for the next millennium and is considering giving the next release of Windows NT a new name and an earlier-than-expected release date.
Microsoft officials are mulling over a new name for the next-generation server/workstation OS, according to several sources close to the company.
And although the software giant reportedly has not yet decided what will replace the "New Technology" abbreviation, sources said two candidates have emerged: Windows Professional, or Pro, and Windows 2000.
Microsoft is likely to focus on the considerable brand equity it has built up with the word "Windows". Because Windows 98 is the last of the Windows 9x variants of the operating system, Microsoft would no longer need the letters "NT" to distinguish one desktop operating system from the other.
Meanwhile, the industry is becoming increasingly divided over expectations for NT 5.0's shipping schedule - and whether NT 5.0 should be released sooner but incomplete, or later with fewer bugs.
Several ISPs have indicated that Microsoft is planning a March announcement and a June release.
One source said Microsoft might rush the planned Beta 3 and deliver it as a Release Candidate.
Microsoft has called NT 5.0's Beta 2, which was released in August, "feature-complete".