Channel concern about the latest delay to the release of Windows NT 5 has been calmed by promises from Microsoft of revenues to resellers for servicing and maintaining an additional beta of the operating system.
The final version of the software will not ship before the second quarter of 1999. Its second beta, to be tested by 200,000 corporate users, was due for release this month but will not be available until September.
Beta 3, described as 'fully functional', should be released by the end of the year.
Speaking to PC Dealer last week, David Bridger, Microsoft UK product manager for NT 5, said resellers would find ample service opportunities in rolling out beta 3.
Paul Brenchley-MacDonald, managing director of Microsoft Lar Leading Edge, confirmed he would be using beta 3 as a pilot for early adopters 'with a pressing need or a pressing desire' to switch to NT 5 as soon as possible.
Buoyant sales of NT 4 are also drawing attention away from the delay.
Brenchley-MacDonald said: 'But NT 4 is rolling out like there's no tomorrow.
All the resellers are hitting their sales targets. Why try to stimulate a market for an updated product which could be riddled with bugs when version 4 is selling so well?'
Nick Gorringe, research and development manager at Microsoft Lar Basilica, agreed: 'I would support a cautious approach. Until we know what NT 5 is going to deliver, we can't push it to customers. There could be any number of problems - such as the way it integrates with existing hardware.
We have to know what we are letting our customers in for.'
However, Bridger said: 'Customers and sales partners have to be confident about this product, which is why we are engaging in the largest corporate testing programme in history.'
He continued: 'We are making a massive investment during the beta 2 and beta 3 phases and have put together a service readiness programme to ensure Vars have the necessary skills to roll out NT 5.'
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