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What's in a name? (Melissa O'Neill)
(topical, smirk, original)

REDMOND, WASHINGTON. Microsoft Corporation announced today that Windows NT 5.0, its much delayed operating system for servers and business desktops, will be renamed ``Windows 2000'' and abbreviated to ``W2K''.

Brad Chaste, director of Microsoft's Advanced Marketing, Strategies and Leverage Group, explained the change, stating that ``This is another case of Microsoft innovation at work: we expect to see significant revenues deriving from our leadership in W2K issues.''

Industry commentators have been quick to speculate that Microsoft may be hoping to create confusion between W2K and the similarly named Y2K. Y2K, also known as ``Year 2000'', is expected to be a major budget item for businesses in the coming year, as they struggle to make their systems Year 2000 compatible. Microsoft is apparently hoping to place Windows 2000 compatibility similarly high on the agenda of corporate America. ``It's a clever move,'' argued analyst Mary Spittle, ``but it may backfire. The associations people have with Y2K, such as dangerous software instabilities, unfixed bugs, and sloppy coding, may not be the sort of associations Microsoft really wants for W2K.''

But Chaste disagreed. ``We view Y2K as a direct competitor to Microsoft products. We're already seeing a tiny, but noticeable, dip in revenues as people spend money on Y2K, and so obviously we're going to aggressively compete. We want to see support call revenues going to Microsoft and Microsoft certified consultants. We've already shown with Windows 98 that we can get customers to pay to test our software and track bugs--with W2K we'll have 20 million lines of new source code for our customers to test out. We're looking at a very profitable future.''

Linus Torvalds, author of Linux, the upstart challenger to the Microsoft hegemony, offered an alternate viewpoint on the situation: ``You can use an operating system like Windows, or you can take a vacation. I'd take the vacation every time.'' But Chaste quickly dismissed Torvalds' comments, ``He's a nice guy, but he's acting alone. We've got thousands of contract programmers making new changes to the Windows source code every day. What's he got?''

Microsoft stock closed up 1.3 points on light trading. Sun Microsystems' Solaris gained 4.4 points, moving from 2.6 to 7.0.

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