Windows 2000 officially launches today (Thursday) - the most stable and powerful enterprise software yet released by Microsoft.
But implementing it won't be an easy ride. Analyst Gartner Group recommends users wait until the first service pack, not due until 2001, before deployment. A poll of Computing readers found that only 11 per cent will deploy Windows 2000 within three months, and 21 per cent won't deploy it before the first service pack.
Getting Windows 2000 working with legacy applications is a big issue. Gartner said last week that half of IT managers testing the operating system (OS) will suffer interoperability snags.
Two levels of compliance
Microsoft has defined two levels of compliance: Windows 2000-ready, and the more rigorously tested Windows 2000-certified. But major software vendors such as SAP, Oracle, Sybase and Informix are not even Windows 2000-ready yet.
Users such as Colin Jones, head of technology at Windows 2000 beta site Nomura International, counter that running in-house applications on Windpws 2000 has so far encountered 'no problems'. Nomura is waiting for compatibility assurances from software vendors, however.
"What Gartner is predicting does not fit in with the experiences of our beta customers in deployments over the last couple of months," added Microsoft's Windows 2000 marketing manager, Neil Laver.
Quality is another major issue. Microsoft internal studies leaked to US trade paper Smart Reseller say that Windows 2000 contains 63,000 "potential issues", including bugs. Some 28,000 are likely to be "real problems", say the documents.
Pricing could be a problem
Pricing is a potential problem for some users. The licence cost of Windows 2000 Server has risen from £1,046 for its predecessor, NT Server, to £1,359 for a server with 25 clients. This includes previously separate software, such as Windows Terminal Server and Internet Information Server.
Don't hold your breath if you're waiting for the high-end Datacentre edition. It won't ship for at least another 120 days, a month later than expected.
Gartner expects Windows 2000 to steal market share from Unix because it will boast a bigger collection of add-ons and applications.
- EC's investigation will pose little threat to Microsoft
The European Commission (EC) is investigating complaints that Windows 2000 unfairly strengthens Microsoft's grip on the server market by linking client and server software.
But the probe is not expected to be a major threat to Microsoft. The EC case looks shaky because analysts do not expect Microsoft to dominate the server market in the same way it has the desktop arena.
IDC predicts that Windows' share of server operating system revenue will increase. However, Unix, despite its share falling below 50 per cent by 2003, will still be the number one in three years' time. Microsoft currently has a third of market revenue. "Our forecasts for Windows 2000 are that sales will start very slowly," said programme director, Dan Kusnetzky.
The EC investigation does, however, add to the regulatory pressure on Microsoft, which is still enduring the long-running anti-trust hearing brought by the Department of Justice. Microsoft and the DoJ are back in court next week.
"When there is a formal complaint, we have to look at it seriously," said EC spokesman, Michael Tscherny.
Meta Group senior analyst, Ashim Pal, said he expected Windows 2000's biggest impact to be on Novell, but even there, to only seize a quarter of Novell's sales.
A survey of 5,000 UK sites by researcher Rhetorik found that Netware's installed base is, for the first time, smaller than both Unix and Windows NT. Last year's National Computing Centre User Survey found that Windows NT was used by many more users than either Unix or the chief mainframe operating systems.
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