The operating system formerly known as Windows NT 5.0 will ship under a new name, Windows 2000, Microsoft revealed on Wednesday.
Brad Chase, vice president of Windows marketing, said the new name will make it easier for customers to choose the right Windows version for them. ?Today customers have to choose between kernel technologies: Windows or NT. This makes it simpler: it?s all Windows," he said.
The direct successor to Windows NT Workstation 4.0 will be named Windows 2000 Professional. It will be the mainstream operating system for business users, Microsoft said.
On the server side, there will be no fewer than three different products. Windows 2000 Server, the successor to NT Server 4.0, will be positioned as a workgroup server. It will support up to two processors.
Windows 2000 Advanced Server will succeed NT Server, Enterprise Edition. It will scale up to four processors, and will include clustering technology. It will also come with the TCP/IP load balancing technology Microsoft acquired from Valence Research in August.
At the high end, Microsoft said it would introduce a new product called Windows 2000 Datacenter Server. This will ship 60 to 90 days after the other Windows 2000 versions. It will support up to 16-way symmetric multiprocessing, Chase said.
?For the first time, we?re really going to have a product that is going to contribute to the data centre needs of our enterprise customers," he claimed.
Microsoft said that Windows 2000 Advanced Server would be cheaper than the current Windows NT Server, Enterprise Edition, but that Windows pricing will otherwise not change significantly.
Windows 2000 Professional and Server ? ni Windows NT 5.0 ? are expected to ship in 1999.
The new name marks the convergence of Microsoft?s two main operating system lines, Windows 9x and NT. As the company has maintained for some time, the successor to Windows 98 for the consumer market will be based on NT.
Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 98 will keep their current names. But the successor to Windows 98, expected to ship around 2002, will probably be called 'Windows 200x with NT technology'.
?The problem was they had multiple brands," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information Group, who was consulted by Microsoft about the new name. Worse, said Enderle, people tended to drop the 'Windows' from the product names, and refer simply to 'NT' or 'CE', weakening the Windows brand name.
On top of that, some had release numbers, like Windows NT 4.0, others had release years, like Windows 98 or Office 97.
?They needed to get back to a point where they had a consolidated, consistent naming scheme," said Enderle. ?Windows 2000 does that, and it gets everyone focused back on Windows ? they?re not going to call it just ?2000?."
But Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Gartner Group, was more cynical.
?We believe that Windows NT under any other name is still Windows NT," he said. He believes that Microsoft has to solve some technical problems before Windows NT will be accepted as a mainstream operating system.
These include problems running on older hardware and imperfect support of legacy 16-bit Windows applications.
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