Microsoft this week released the first beta of the next version of Windows, code-named Whistler, which will mark the end of the Windows 9x line of operating systems.
The beta of Whistler, the first operating system to feature components of the company's .NET strategy, went out to some 200,000 testers.
Company officials acknowledge, however, that the follow-up to Whistler, Blackcomb, will be the first major initiative of .NET.
Whistler is due to arrive in the first half of 2001, with Blackcomb coming at least a year after that.
Microsoft's Whistler combines the code bases of Windows 2000 and Windows 9x, the latest release of which is Windows Me.
This week Microsoft also continued the rollout of the second beta of Office 10, which also is set to launch in the first half of 2001.
The second beta added voice recognition technology to the productivity suite.