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Friday, 24 August, 2001, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
Microsoft ships Windows XP
Windows XP is due for widespread distribution by 25 October
Windows XP is due for widespread autumn distribution
Microsoft has wrapped up the development of its controversial new computer-operating system, Windows XP, and expects to begin supplying it to personal-computer (PC) manufacturers as soon as Friday.

The new software promises a new look for the venerable Windows operating system, which last saw a major overhaul in 1995.

But its development has been rocked by a series of controversial components as well as the ongoing antitrust trial with the US government.

Bill Gates with Windows 2000, AP
Windows XP follows Windows 2000
Microsoft said in May it planned a 25 October launch date for the product, in time, the company hoped, to cash in on the all-important pre-Christmas market.

Microsoft said on Friday consumers will be able to buy new computers with XP pre-installed or buy an upgrade product at retail outlets.

"It's taken us two years to get XP to this point," said Chris Jones, vice president of Windows for Microsoft.

"We're very happy with the quality of the experience. It really is a revolutionary product that's going to change how people use their computer," Mr Jones told BBC News Online.

Marketing push

Today's announcement means Windows is handing-off Windows XP to personal-computer manufacturers and production lines for retail distribution.

Consumers can expect to purchase the new software on 25 October.

Equipment manufacturers are also shipping Windows XP-ready PCs that allow for an easy upgrade to Windows XP, Mr Jones told BBC News Online.

Prices for the new software have been put at $99 (68.50) for upgrade versions of the Home Edition, while a standard version is expected to cost $199.

Windows XP Professional, designed for businesses will be available in an upgrade version for $199, and $299 for a standard version.

In making the announcement, Microsoft unleashed legions of endorsements by PC manufacturers, including heavyweights Dell, Gateway, Compaq and Hewlett-Packard.

Internet friendly

The new software more fully incorporates the internet, which has been the source of some controversy.

Consumers and privacy advocates were concerned that so-called "smart tags", would push consumers to internet without the owner's permission.

The technology would have allowed users to click on word in virtually any Microsoft software product and send users to Microsoft approved web sites.

In June, Microsoft relented and dropped the smart-tag feature. But Microsoft, while acknowledging privacy fears, did not rule out installing the technology in future XP packages.

On Friday, Microsoft's Chris Jones said the company would evaluate the criticism it has received over smart tags. "We'll take [that] back, and go and have another whack at it," he said.

See also:

13 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
XP prepares to storm desktops
14 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
To upgrade or not to upgrade
19 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Microsoft 'experiments' with XP
09 May 01 | Business
October launch for Windows XP
16 Aug 00 | Business
Linux goes Gnome
22 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
Windows embraces the web
13 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
Gates hands down his tablet
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