Microsoft operating system developers working on Neptune, the forthcoming consumer version of Windows NT, and those building Odyssey, the upgrade to Windows 2000, are now working on the same project: Whistler. "Whistler is the code name for the next iteration of Windows," Craig Beilinson, lead product manager for Windows 2000, said today. "In an effort to streamline those Windows development efforts, we're combining those projects into one product." The change comes about one month after company Senior Vice President James Allchin was named to head up a united Windows Division at the software company. Beilinson said that the move - which came as a surprise to many, because beta versions of Neptune were shipped to testers in December -- was not an indication that Microsoft's oft-stated goal of ending the Windows 9x OS line in favour of a "Consumer NT" brand had hit another delay. An update to Windows 98, codenamed Millennium, is slated for release later this year. Whistler, still on the drawing board and with no release date slated, "is designed to be the next iteration of Windows for both Windows 2000 and Millennium users," Beilinson said. According to a report on www.betanews.com, the project's codename does not indicate that Microsoft plans to integrate into the operating system text-to-speech technology, currently under development at Microsoft Research under the code name Whistler.