Microsoft Corp. said Monday it is planning a release “early” in the first half of 2002 of Windows Datacenter Server Limited Edition, the next edition of its enterprise-aimed operating system.

Windows Datacenter Server has been designed to compete against Unix and other mainframe technologies, according to Microsoft. The new version will be optimized for financial, telecommunication and ISP (Internet service provider) customer use, according to Microsoft. Potential deployments for the operating system include handling e-commerce transaction processing, online analytical processing, and data warehousing and mining, the company said.

Microsoft released the last version of the software, Windows 2000 Datacenter Server, in September 2000. Like that release, Windows Datacenter Server Limited Edition will not be available directly from Microsoft. It will instead be sold through Microsoft’s partner hardware vendors, including IBM Corp., Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Computer Corp., and Fujitsu Ltd.

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