Microsoft previews Windows XP at Gitex

Visitors to this year's Gitex will be able to see Windows XP in action ahead of its scheduled October 25 release. The latest operating system (OS) offering from the software giant is being touted as the desktop panacea that will take business productivity and collaboration to new heights and shunt the PC into tomorrow.

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By  Peter Conmy Published  August 30, 2001

Visitors to this year's Gitex will be able to see Windows XP in action ahead of its scheduled October 25 release. The latest operating system (OS) offering from the software giant is being touted as the desktop panacea that will take business productivity and collaboration to new heights and shunt the PC into tomorrow.

Bill Gates believes that "Windows XP is the best operating system Microsoft has ever built" and is the "culmination of more than fifteen years of research, development and customer feedback.”
Mazen Shehadeh, product marketing manager, Microsoft, Gulf and Eastern Mediterranean added "it's going to be the best release since Windows 95."

And, although most companies have just completed rolling out Windows 2000, some of the region's users are already testing the Windows XP release candidate 1 (RC1) version of the OS. "We're got sites in the region that have used betas one and two and now are using RC1," explains Shehadeh.

PC manufacturers have also been given the green light to ship Windows a full month before the official launch date and hardware vendors are expected to begin shipping notebooks and PCs loaded with XP by late September.

"Customers in the region will be able to buy hardware loaded with either the Home Edition or the Professional Edition before the official launch date. The OEM partners have been beta testing the product themselves, so they already know the product very well," says Shehadeh.

The recent acceleration of Windows XP, which, regionally at least, will culminate with its public debut at Gitex, has raised a number of pertinent questions. First and foremost is the feeling that its final development stages are, possibly, being motivated by persisting courtroom wrangling.

Analysts from Gartner Group, at least, believe that Microsoft is giving Windows XP the express treatment in an effort to drive the operating system into the market before any rivals can bring court injunctions against the software giant.

However, according to Gartner analysts, the appeals process is not much more than a ruse to forestall any attempts to prevent the release of Windows XP.

"Even if Microsoft loses the appeal, it likely will succeed in stalling legal action long enough to get Windows XP established in the market — the Supreme Court is in recess until October. Microsoft bets that any possible legal action or punishment would likely not require a recall of the product," states the Gartner Group report.

Whatever happens, it is clear that XP is positioned to play a key role in Microsoft's .NET strategy for delivering web services. To this end, the company has embedded several key elements of the .NET strategy into the operating system.

"With XP, Microsoft embeds its digital rights management solution in the Windows Media Player and the proprietary media format WMF, with the goal of charging content providers a fee every time users access a piece of content," explains the Gartner report.

However, the bundling of Passport could be the most significant element of this embedding strategy as it will be used to control business identity, via UDDI, in .NET web services model.

"Even more important, Microsoft also bundles its Passport authentication service and intends to charge Internet businesses a fee every time Passport authenticates a site visitor," says Gartner. According to Gartner's forecast this means "if the courts permit unrestricted bundling in Windows XP and future operating systems, 20%-to-30% of Microsoft's revenue will derive from transaction fees by 2010."

If the US court does however rule that Microsoft illegally protected its monopoly, then it will have a much harder time executing this strategy and the Gitex preview of Windows XP could well be the start of a long and rocky road for the company and it's users.

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