Microsoft Canada Co. released Windows XP to manufacturers and announced pricing for the new operating system on Friday. With development of the software now complete, Windows XP is on schedule for widespread availability on October 25.
The new Windows builds on the momentum of the Internet and digital media with improvements that increase productivity and provide both business and home users with an easy-to-use and exciting PC experience, said Erik Moll, Windows XP marketing manger, Microsoft Canada Co. Windows XP extends the computing experience for businesses and consumers by uniting PCs, devices and services and brings the solid foundation of Windows 2000 to home PC users, enhancing reliability, security and performance, Moll added.
PC manufacturers faced with slumping PC sales welcomed the news. Heather Simmons, Dell Canada’s marketing director predicted that the new release would help to accelerate PC sales.
Once PC makers have the final code, they will spend the next four to six weeks testing and debugging the software on their systems, Roger Frizzell, a spokesman for Compaq Computer Corp.’s desktop division told the IDG News Service. Frizzell added Friday’s handoff would give Compaq adequate time to begin offering Windows XP machines through its direct channels in September, and through retail outlets on the official Oct. 25 launch date.
“It’s one of the biggest things to hit the industry this year and to hit Compaq. A delay would have been devastating,” Frizzell said. “The fact that Microsoft is moving forward – it’s just critical.”
Jackie Morgan, Intel Canada’s consumer marketing manager, said the new operating system is designed to show off the communication capabilities and rich audio and video. Morgan said Intel would be working with Microsoft to combine the new operating system with Intel’s Pentium 4 processor.
Consumers will enjoy the ability to create and manage their photos and movies to sharing them with family and friends from wherever they are, whenever they want, said John Trisic, senior vice-president and general manager with HP Canada’s consumer business organization.
John Stanisic, research analyst with IDC Canada, said that because the PC market has been driven by applications that push the capabilities of the user forward the new release is “targeting the hot buttons and needs of consumers and businesses alike” with its dramatically enhanced communication, stability and multimedia features and functions.
Windows XP will be available in both Home Edition and Professional versions. The Windows XP Home Edition unlocks the full potential of the personal computer and enables consumers to do amazing things with their PCs while providing the best home experience for stability, entertainment and communication.
Key features and capabilities of Windows XP Home Edition include:
- The ability to acquire, organize and share digital photosAn all-in-one place to download, store and playback the highest-quality digital musicThe ability to create, share and enjoy digital videosA personal entertainment system for gaming and high-quality dvd videosInstant messaging, voice and video capabilities to communicate with friends and familyEasy connections to share the computers and devices within a homeThe ability to invite a friend or support professional to connect to a pc over the Internet to fix a problem or answer a question
Windows XP Professional includes all of the features and benefits of Windows XP Home Edition, plus additional remote access, security, performance, manageability and multi-lingual features, Microsoft said.
Both editions of Windows XP will be available at retail in upgrade and standard versions.
The Canadian pricing for Windows XP Home Edition upgrade (for users of Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows Millennium Edition and Windows 2000 Professional) will be $159 (estimated retail price). Windows XP Home Edition standard price (full packaged product) for users without a Windows Operating system on their PC or Windows 95 will be $319 (estimated retail price). Windows XP Professional upgrade price for users of Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows Millennium Edition and Windows 2000 Professional will be $319 (estimated retail price). Windows XP Professional price (full packaged product) for users without a Windows operating system on their PC or Windows 95 will be $499 (estimated retail price).
Bells and whistles aside, shipping the Release to Manufactures (RTM) is a major accomplishment for the software maker, according to Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information Group.
“It can be big, and it can be very material,” he said, noting that delivery of an RTM is typically a stock market-moving event. “When they make this date they are almost ensured that the product will ship Oct. 25.”
The only thing likely to interfere with on-time launch, analysts and legal experts have said, is the U.S. government, which is embroiled in a landmark antitrust battle with Microsoft. As early as Friday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is expected to select a new trial judge to lead the next phase of the case, which involves crafting new remedies to curb the anticompetitive behavior Microsoft has been found guilty of.
When the judge has been appointed, Microsoft’s legal opponents could file for an injunction to stop Windows XP from being distributed. The Department of Justice and 18 states that are plaintiffs in the case have not commented on whether they plan to take such a step.
– With files from Matt Berger and Ed Scannell of InfoWorld.com.
Microsoft Canada in Mississauga, Ont., can be reached at http://www.microsoft.ca.