The Future of Windows

Later this year Microsoft plans to release its latest version of Windows, code-named "Whistler." While it might not top sliced bread, Whistler should provide plenty of new features along with an updated interface.

The purpose of Whistler is to combine the code bases of the Windows 95 and Windows NT families. This will allow manufacturers to write just one set of drivers, while providing easier maintenance for Microsoft. Of course, the original plan was that Windows 98 would be the last version, but we have seen Windows 98 Second Edition and Windows Me launched since then.

Whistler should be available in two versions, a Personal version for home use and a Professional version for business use. Like Windows Me, the Personal version will be geared towards home use such as gaming and video, while the Professional version will support multiple processors and other performance enhancements, with some versions supporting 64-bit code. Whistler also includes voice technology and agents to assist with common tasks. Whistler will provide a compatibility mode for current Windows 95/98/Me software, since some programs and many drivers are not compatible with the Windows NT/2000 family which forms the base of Whistler.

Overall Microsoft currently expects Whistler's hardware requirements to be about the same as those of Windows 2000. In reality this means many users will be faced with purchasing new computers rather than upgrading their Windows 95 or Windows 98 systems. In the big picture this may not be a bad thing, given the differences in driver models and the reports of problems upgrading from Windows 98 to Windows Me.

January 2001

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