Microsoft presented its Windows 2000 operating system yesterday, stressing its reliability and stability - despite reports circulating regarding the systems’ 63,000 bugs.

Bill Gates made his first major appearance in his new role as Microsoft chairman and chief software architect. He was joined on stage by actor Patrick Stewart, best known for his role in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The launch was dominated by a long series of demonstrations designed to show off the operating system's features for mobile workers, systems administrators and enterprise data centres. Many of the demonstrations were met with loud cheers from the audience, an unusual occurrence at Microsoft's generally tightly scripted, but relatively emotionless launch events.

In a demonstration of Windows 2000's scalability, 400 Dell Computer workstations were shown generating the equivalent of 1.6 billion hits per day against 32 clustered servers running the CBS MarketWatch Web site. The audience was shown how servers could be added to the cluster without need for any manual software configuration. The load automatically spread over the new servers. Gates said 20,000 "dot-com" sites are already running on Windows 2000, and boast uptimes of more than 99.95%.

Microsoft also revealed that its new operating system has been localised for nine languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese and two Japanese language versions. Fifteen more language versions are promised by the company.