REDMOND, Wash. (AP) - Microsoft Corp. is delaying release of the next generation of its popular Windows software - Windows 98 - until the spring to give testers more time to root out bugs in the program.
Microsoft, which had initially planned to release the software before the end of March, stock fell sharply this afternoon on news of the delay.
Phil Holden, Windows product manager, said the delay wasn't because of any major problem with the product, but because testers and customers consistently were saying they wanted the upgrade combined with an upgrade of an older version of Windows.
Microsoft, which was off about $2 ahead the announcement, was down $5.81 at $132.121/2 , more than 4 percent, late this afternoon.
By updating the two versions simultaneously, retailers won't have to restock with two separate products. Windows 95 and Windows 98 run programs designed for earlier versions of Windows, known as 3.1.
"The net result is it will take longer to do testing," Holden said.
The upgrade of its best-selling computer operating system, formerly code-named "Memphis," now will be available sometime in the second three months of next year.
The new version won't be the technological leap that marked the introduction of Windows 95 two years ago. But officials have said it will blend Internet, radio, television and other media into personal computers, while being more reliable and far simpler to operate.
Windows 95 now runs on more than 100 million computers or approximately one-third of all personal computers in use, Microsoft has said.
The initial test, or "beta" version, of Windows 98 was released June 30 to a select group of software developers and testers. About 15,000 beta testers are now working with a second version, and a third version is due out later this year, Holden said.