Microsoft Corp says it now aims to have the Beta 3 version of NT 5.0, now renamed Windows 2000, released to manufacturing by April for an extremely broad beta program. Microsoft shipped the first release candidate of Windows 2000, RC0, at the end of last year and next month plans to ship the RC1 version. April is still only a target date for the Beta release, and the length of the beta program will be determined by feedback from the users. Carl Stork, Microsoft’s general manager for Windows hardware strategy and evangelism, urged developers at the Intel Developer Forum to put the release into production environments in order to get familiar with it. He said that Microsoft and some major Microsoft customers planned to use it for production systems. Stork said Microsoft had been working to remove the main barriers to adoption for users moving from Windows 98 to Windows 2000, which he identified as power management, plug-and-play support, hardware device support, deployment and support tools and support for mobile systems. But Stork warned that broad hardware support for the operating system had been scaled down because of worries over quality. We don’t want poorly-supported hardware, Stork said, as he warned that not all the hardware support from Windows 98 would be immediately available on 2000. But other areas, such as support for USB, imaging, Universal Plug and Play, power management, OnNow and ACPI, would go beyond Win98, he said. An off-line synchronization tool for mobile users portions off areas of the network for storage on a mobile machine for off-line use, which will be re-synchronized with the network once the system is plugged back into the network. The inclusion of DirectX 7.0 will bring the NT world up to speed with Windows and make the new system more attractive to games developers, said Stork. As for 64-bit NT development, aimed both at Intel’s Merced chip and at Compaq Computer Corp’s Alpha chip, Stork said the system was in active development with daily builds, and the Peoplesoft application already hosted. We will be ready with product as soon as systems are ready to ship he said.