Windows XP will always have a special place in my heart because I was the one who first revealed that Microsoft’s codename for this next Windows version was “Whistler.” Here’s a peek at a Whistler news story I wrote in 2000 but never published, the first in an ongoing “Throwback Thursday” series.
As a bit of background, Whistler is the name of a mountain and ski resort in British Columbia and is, as then, a favorite haunt of Microsofties. At the time that the Whistler codename was chosen for the follow-up to Windows 2000, the Windows team also chose Blackcomb as the codename of the subsequent Windows version; Blackcomb is of course a mountain and ski resort right next to Whistler.
So Blackcomb was originally supposed to follow Whistler. But then Microsoft realized it needed an interim release before it could deliver the major changes it planned for Blackcomb. And I was once again lucky enough to later reveal that “Longhorn” would be the name of that release. What was Longhorn? A bar that sits between the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. This should have been a warning sign.
Anyway, I have a lot of information about Whistler thanks to some incredible inside access, and of course tons of screenshots from over a period of almost two years. But here’s one from the (digital) vaults, a (potentially unfinished) news article I wrote on May 28, 2000 that never ran for whatever reason. I believe this is the first time it’s been published.
EXCLUSIVE: ‘Whistler’ Beta 1 will ship with Personal Edition and 64-bit versions
Microsoft Corporation is preparing to issue its first beta release of “Whistler,” the next version of Windows 2000. And this release will run the gamut from a new Personal Edition that will ultimately replace Windows Me, to a series of high-end 64-bit products for Intel Itanium processor-based systems. The initial rollout of the beta will be focused exclusively on Microsoft’s closest partners, such as software developers, hardware companies, PC makers, Joint Development Program (JDP) members, and corporate deployment professionals. And unlike the Windows 2000 beta, which lasted almost three years, Microsoft is promising a “very aggressive timeframe” for Whistler: The company plans to ship the product in April 2001.
“Given the importance of the consumer market to the Whistler release, this program also introduces ‘Whistler Personal,’ [which is] intended for focused, key consumer testers,” an internal Microsoft email announcement reads. “We expect everyone in the Technical Beta to really focus their development and/or testing efforts in a partnership with us to meet program objectives in a very aggressive timeframe. This is not an evaluation-based program.”
Microsoft will issue four types of testing kits for Whistler Beta 1. The first, Whistler Personal, will include CDs for the Personal Edition of Whistler only. This product is aimed at the home/consumer market. The Whistler32 Tech Beta program will include Whistler Personal, Whistler Professional, Whistler Server, and Whistler Advanced Server. With the exception of the Personal Edition, these products will directly replace the products of the same name in the Windows 2000 family. The Whistler32 Developer Tech Beta is geared toward developers who will target improved application and hardware compatibility with Whistler products. This will include the Whistler Software Development Kit (SDK) and Device Driver Development Kit (DDK.). Finally, the Whistler64 Tech Beta will be restricted to testers that have Intel Itanium prototype hardware. It will include 64-bit versions of Whistler Professional, Server, SDK, and DDK releases.
Here’s another interesting tease. During this timeframe, Microsoft was investigating more immersive UIs for Windows, work that would eventually lead to a botched activity centers effort that ultimately worked its way into Windows Phone’s hubs. Here’s a very early peek at such a UI, a “start page” prototype that Microsoft considered for Whistler that was designed to be modified by PC makers. Needless to say, nothing like this ever appeared in Windows XP or elsewhere.
I have enough Whistler material to fill a book. So don’t be surprised if future Throwback Thursdays return to this topic.
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