Programming Windows: Are You Experienced? (Premium)

With Bill Gates’ triumphant keynote address at CES 2001 out of the way and the troops back at work after an unsettling holiday break, the development of Whistler spun up again at Microsoft’s corporate headquarter in Redmond, Washington. The Windows team was planning a big surprise for its fans and customers, but over the course of three official builds of the product ahead of an expected Beta 2 release in February, there was little hint of the major changes to come.

To date, Whistler had provided the same desktop environment that Microsoft had used since its debut in Windows 95 in 1995. But Microsoft added a twist, with a visual style choice that could be set to “classic,” the basic look and feel of Windows 9x/Me and 2000, and “watercolor,” which introduced a bolder color scheme. Early Whistler builds also showed off simpler new UIs for the Start menu, Control Panel, Help and Support, and other key interfaces, that were matched to the Watercolor visual style.

The first few Whistler builds of 2001 continued this evolution, and a late January build was the first to include the wallpapers, including the iconic Bliss, that would ship with the final version of the product. But that was about it.

But that very week, I received my first clues that major changes were coming. First, I discovered via sources that the watercolor user interface was not the final UI, and Microsoft was planning “a new interface or skin.” And Whistler would not be branded as Windows.NET or Windows 2002, as many had expected: my sources told me that Bill Gates had rejected several names for the next versions of Windows and Office. And that in the latter case, Gates had specifically rejected the names Office X, Office 10, Office 2002, and Office Millennium Edition. The name Gates did like was Office XP. And XP, I was told, stood for “eXPerienced.”

That was somewhat incorrect---XP stood for “eXPeriences”---but with the Office branding shifting to XP and Whistler and Office shipping at the same time, it made sense that Whistler might be branded … Windows XP. At the time I first heard this, in late January, however, that wasn’t certain. (Humorously, one source opined that the theme song for Whistler could thus be “Are you experienced” by Jimi Hendrix, similar to the use of “Start me up” by the Rolling Stones for Windows 95.)

Earlier in the month, I had been invited to the Whistler Desktop Beta 2 Technical Workshop, which would be held February 6 and 7 at Microsoft's campus in Redmond, Washington. There, we would finally learn what was really happening.

“The content of the event will be focused on the consumer and business desktop versions of Whistler,” I was told. “This two-day workshop offers an opportunity to hear from key members of the Whistler development team. In addition to presentations and technical explanations, you will have hands-on time with the product and opportunities for discussion with key execu...

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