Microsoft's litigation with the Department of Justice and the company's well-known sluggishness in rolling out new editions of the Windows operating system are not expected to cause any delay in the early-fall launch of Windows Millennium.
A Microsoft employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said last week the new consumer version of the operating system would ship on time, despite the legal wrangling that is taking place in Washington. "These will not affect the launch of Windows ME [Millennium]," he said.
Roger Lanctot, director of research for PC Data, Reston, Va., also foresees no reason Microsoft's legal issues should delay Millennium and said it should give the software market a much-needed boost.
"The legal actions by the government have raised questions about a variety of Microsoft initiatives, most notably Pocket PC," said Lanctot. "If you are a developer for Pocket PC you are very concerned about the future of that technology. But on the OS side, there is nothing particularly controversial about Windows Millennium Edition."
Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson earlier this month found that Microsoft had violated federal antitrust law and should be broken into two distinct entities. One to handle its line of operating systems and another for software applications. Microsoft is appealing the case in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Millennium, which supercedes Windows 98, is a departure from the company's past operating systems on several levels. For the first time DOS is not included, but the OS is home networking-ready. It can recognize the popular types of home-networking systems, such as telephone line and wireless, and includes an onscreen wizard to assist in the installation of a network.
Millennium also features what Microsoft calls Universal Plug and Play for upcoming home-automation networks that would allow consumers to control their appliances and home-related systems through the PC. Enhanced digital camera and video editing capabilities are included, as well as an improved Windows Media Player.