Windows XP debut set
NEW YORK (CNNfn) -- Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday set a firm date for the release of the next version of its Windows operating system, promising to deliver it on Oct. 25.
Previously, the company had said the new software, called Windows XP, would be available sometime in the second half of this year. Microsoft reportedly had been aiming for an earlier release date in the summer so PC makers could make it available on new systems in time for the back-to-school buying season.
But in a teleconference with reporters and analysts Wednesday, Jim Allchin, vice president of the platforms group at Microsoft, said the company wanted to focus on making sure it had all the bugs worked out of the new product before it put it out into the marketplace.
"Quality was the No. 1 thing that we focused on here, and we feel good enough to lock that date in," Allchin said. "It would have been nice to make the back-to-school time frame for pre-loading, but quality came first."
Microsoft, the dominant supplier of PC operating systems, frequently has been criticized for releasing flawed software and for missing targeted launch dates.
Allchin said Microsoft will spend twice as much in marketing Windows XP during its first four months as it did in total for Windows 95. Although he would not say specifically how much, Allchin said the marketing campaign will amount to "hundreds of millions" of dollars.
Windows XP will be available in a Home Edition for consumers and a Professional Edition for businesses. It will come pre-installed on new computers and available for purchase in full and upgrade versions through software retailers. Allchin did not provide any details about expected pricing.
Microsoft took the wraps off Windows XP in February, giving the public its first glimpse at the new user interface and multimedia features set.
It has been designed with more emphasis on multimedia features, such as Web publishing and streaming audio and video, and was built on the same platform as Microsoft's Windows 2000 operating system. It is the first consumer operating system since Windows 95 that has an entirely new underlying code base.
Although the release of Windows XP will be too late for this year's back-to-school season, it will be available in time for the holidays, another critical selling season in the computer industry.
"We're going to blow out the holiday season," Allchin said.
PC makers have been eagerly anticipating the release of Windows XP, which many see as a potential catalyst for flagging PC sales.
According to technology research firms International Data Corp. and Gartner Dataquest, the PC market in the United States, which has been a sore spot for all the top-tier vendors lately, contracted during the first quarter for the first time since industry analysts first started tracking the market in the mid-1980s.
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