"Our commitment to make Windows better and better goes on and on throughout the years," he continued. "I can think of only two occasions that were similar to this: The first release of Windows, and about six years ago, when we stood on this (same) lawn and released Windows 95."


"Even (in 1995), we couldn't have imagined how far we'd come with Windows," Gates said. "The improvements in performance and reliability, the new things people are going to be able to do: Real time communications, photos, music. This is an incredible effort."


"It's a breakthrough," Gates said of XP. "We're on track for that (October 25th) launch, which is important, and the team has done a fantastic job." Gates and Allchin hoist the final golden master CDs for Windows XP.


"I'm super happy to turn over build 2600 to you, to see if you'll sign off on it today." Allchin said. "OK," said Gates, laughing. "This is it, I'm ready to sign off. Give me the tablet and I'll do my job." He then signed his name to the RTM release, using a prototype Windows XP-based Tablet PC and a stylus.


At a private event after the handing off of gold CDs to the six biggest PC makers, Allchin cheered his employees and their work on Windows XP. Allchin is holding the retail boxes for Professional (left) and Home Editions.


Gates celebrates the release to manufacturing of Windows XP at the entrance to the Microsoft campus.

Photos courtesy of Microsoft Corporation.