March 27, 2001, 10:55 AM — As more details of Microsoft's Windows XP operating system trickle out here at WinHEC 2001, Greg Sullivan, a lead product manager for Microsoft, said the new OS will eventually replace all of the company's previous operating systems.
The release of a beta 2 version of XP was announced Monday at WinHEC, Microsoft's annual hardware developers' conference.
By the end of the year, Microsoft will roll out a Windows XP Home Edition, which will eventually replace the recently released Windows Millennium Edition, Sullivan said. A 64-bit edition of XP will also arrive later this year for client terminals attached to 64-bit servers as well as an embedded version of XP, Sullivan said.
The server-based components of Windows XP will likely ship sometime in 2002, Sullivan said.
Although Microsoft will continue its support for Windows 2000, Sullivan said the upgrade path for Windows 2000 is Windows XP Professional and that companies should not wait to begin working with Windows XP, even if they continue to deploy Windows 2000. In the same way many users continue to run older operating systems like Windows 95, users are not required to upgrade to XP.
"If you are evaluating Windows 2000 right now, even if you're well down the path of installing [Windows] 2000, keep going. [Windows 2000 and XP are designed to coexist," Sullivan said.
But a unified operating system across all devices is Microsoft's ultimate vision, said Tom Laemmel, a product manager for the Windows consumer division in Redmond, Wash.
Sullivan said Windows XP is "not the next version of Windows, but a whole new Windows." However, the core kernel of the XP is essentially the Windows NT kernel, according to Sullivan.
The advantage of having a single Windows NT-based operating system running every type of computer system is simplicity, explained Laemmel. "With XP, companies have one platform to support, which is more reliable and [supports] all of the connected peripherals, all without the legacy issues from the earliest PC days," Laemmel said.
Wireless connectivity will also be greatly improved by an industry transition to XP, Laemmel said. Users moving from one 802.11 wireless LAN to another will be recognized faster if both networks are running XP, making it easier for users to roam from one network to another, access permitting.
Help desks will also benefit from some of the features of XP. Versions of the operating system will offer a feature called "shared desktop" that lets users permit other users to manipulate their PCs over the Internet. Shared Desktop puts a third party, remote user in control of the PC interface, sparing the user the time and aggravation of having to explain a problem verbally over the phone when the help desk cannot see the problem, Sullivan said.