Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman, finally launched the Windows 2000 operating system (OS) yesterday under the banner, 'The Business Internet starts here'.
Speaking alongside a 30ft-plus plastic laptop at the Windows 2000 launch in San Francisco, Gates said Windows 2000 was a key platform for ecommerce, especially in the business to business space. GartnerGroup has warned that customers should be wary of using it for hosting ecommerce applications until the end of 2001.
Gates said that Windows 2000 was "a very ambitious project, the most ambitious in the industry", and that Microsoft had spent $2bn on engineering and put together a team of 5,000 engineers to get it to market.
However, he added that Windows 2000 was merely "the kick-off for a new generation", with the Data Centre Edition, 64bit version and the Embedded Workstation release all due to ship this year.
Gates said: "Before today people perceived that they could get better benchmarks on low volume platforms such as mainframes and Unix, although the value choice brought them the ease of use that came with a rich set of tools."
"With Windows 2000, I feel the situation has changed and reliability and scaleability is the new approach. Windows now offers value, choice and time to market. We define Windows 2000 as a complete platform that provides all the things you need to run a website at one third of the cost of leading Unix systems," he added.
Gates said that while Windows 95 needed to be rebooted on average every 2.1 days and Windows NT Workstation 4.0 every 5.2 days, an ongoing independent benchmarking test has been running Windows 2000 Professional for 90 days without a reboot.
Microsoft is trying to pitch Professional as the new must-have desktop OS for corporate users, while positioning Windows 98 for the consumer market. This will be followed by Windows Millennium in the late summer and will have new digital entertainment and home networking functionality.
However, Gartner and other researchers have also advised users to refrain from implementing any of the three versions of Windows 2000 for at least nine months at the desktop and departmental level and for 18 months in large scale systems.
But Gates also claimed that Windows 2000 Server and Advanced Server could now run on machines with up to 32 processors and support 6,700 concurrent users using SAP's enterprise resource planning application suite and Microsoft's SQL Server 2000 database, which is due to ship later this year.
NT 4.0 running R/3 and SQL Server 7.0, on the other hand, was limited to 4,500 concurrent users, he said.
As for security, he claimed that the addition of Active Directory and the ability to encrypt data using Public Key Infrastructure technology and Keberos, took it to new levels.
Other offerings also scheduled to appear later in the year include Biztalk Server, Hot Integration Server and Application Centre, which is intended to enable users to mange their websites more easily.
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