UK high street bank Natwest is ignoring critics of Windows 2000 and is planning to upgrade its massive branch network platform from Windows NT 3.51.
A Natwest spokesman this week said that upgrade talks were underway, despite the fact that Microsoft has not yet fully solved the handle leak fault that crippled the bank's network last summer.
A handle leak occurs when an application running in Windows NT seizes so many system resources that the system slows or crashes. Microsoft has released service packs to tackle such leaks in the past.
Ed Thompson, Gartner Group analyst, said Natwest should not adopt Windows 2000 until subsequent service packs and upgrades had shipped. He believes the bank should wait nine months before proceeding with the upgrade.
"The bugs and problems will be eroded slowly - it took Unix eight years and we are only four years into Windows NT. It will be another four years before Windows NT is as stable as Unix," he said.
Catherine Doran, head of retail banking systems at Natwest, said the bank is at a pre-planning stage and is evaluating Windows 2000 because it offers easier business systems management through its much touted resource Active Directory.
"The operating system that has no errors has not been written," she added.
Last year, Microsoft group programme manager Tom Phillips blamed applications being run at Natwest for the handle leaks.
He said these could continue even though the Windows NT kernel had been re-engineered.
"Application developers can still screw up with their application," he said.
Neither Microsoft nor Natwest is willing to say how the handle leak was fixed last year. There is no software patch on general release.
The leak struck last June after Natwest upgraded 5,000 PCs and 300 servers with an in house application. All 1,750 branches were affected.
For further stories see 15 April issue of Computing
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