Microsoft promises Windows XP on Oct. 25

The date has been eagerly anticipated and Microsoft Corp. finally made it official on Wednesday: the software giant plans to release Windows XP worldwide on Thursday, Oct. 25.

The newest version of Microsoft’s desktop operating system – the XP standing for “experience” – is the next generation of the Windows 2000 line. Windows XP will offer voice, video and application sharing over the Internet, Microsoft spokesman Nick McGrath said.

Windows XP will be available on new PCs and as a full or upgrade version at retail locations, in two editions: Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Professional Edition, McGrath said. The Professional Edition will be appropriate for businesses of all sizes, McGrath added.

A number of different OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) will be offering Windows XP, including Compaq Computer Corp., Dell Computer Corp., Gateway Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP), among others, McGrath said.

The official release date of the operating system, long the subject of speculation within the industry, means Windows XP will hit the market in time for the crucial holiday shopping season. “The software will be part of the largest marketing campaign in Microsoft history,” McGrath said.

Though McGrath declined to give any specific numbers, he did say that Microsoft will spend twice as much in four months on marketing Windows XP as it did on Windows 95.

Microsoft’s other hotly anticipated product, Office XP, will be officially released worldwide release on May 31.

Jim Allchin, Microsoft’s group vice-president, is scheduled to host Wednesday’s conference call, which is set for 8:30 a.m. PDT. The dial-in number for the call is 1-800-399-0081. Reporters should ask for the Microsoft Windows XP conference.

Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash., can be reached at