Microsoft has put a positive spin on its decision to delay the release of Release Candidate 2 (RC2) of Windows 2000, insisting that the move would not hinder the company's efforts to ship final code before the end of 1999.
Although Microsoft continues to leave the door open for an early 2000 release for the upgrade to Windows NT 4.0, and sources say a January resident transport module release is a serious possibility, the issue of when it ships has become little more than a matter of pride for the software giant.
Other than some participants in Microsoft's early deployment program, most IT shops do not plan to adopt Windows 2000 immediately.
"We don't want to bet on the server yet," said Al Williams, director of distributed systems services for the academic computing department at Pennsylvania State University, in State College, Pennsylvania. "We have had some problems with DNS, and Active Directory will have to behave better than it has."
RC2 was due out last week, but the release will not surface until Sept. 15 at the earliest, sources said.
Keith White, marketing director of the business and enterprise division at Microsoft, said "nothing significant" was behind the delay, although he would not elaborate. He said RC2 would be released in September, but added that a planned Partners Day for OEMs and software makers would be postponed at least until October.
"We are still on track for '99, but if the quality is not there, people will not mind it slipping a little bit," White said.
Meanwhile, IBM is marshalling an impressive number of technical and financial resources to market, sell, and support Windows 2000.
While IBM will strongly back Windows 2000, it will do so with its eyes wide open. IBM officials have criticized Windows 2000's technical shortcomings, such as Active Directory and its Kerberos technology's inability to integrate with heterogeneous corporate environments, and the Microsoft Management Console's inflexibility in working with third-party products.
"These problems need to be addressed before Windows 2000 can be smoothly integrated into multivendor environments," said Pat Gibney, IBM's director of Windows 2000 Systems, at a company event last week in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Despite Microsoft's progress in improving Windows 2000's symmetrical multiprocessing and clustering capabilities, Gibney cautioned that the first iteration of the 32-bit operating system is not quite ready to push the performance limits of eight-way servers -- especially for mixed workloads.
"I think many users will be disappointed with the performance on a single eight-way server handling a mix of workloads, in terms of the payback they will get," he said.
Still, IBM plans to roll out Windows 2000 internally on all of its 250,000 Windows client systems by the end of 2000.