Windows 2000 may ship minus tools

Microsoft hasconfirmed it's aiming for an October 6 release for Windows 2000. But sources who have been briefed say that although all the features will be included, some -- such as Active Directory and Intellimirror -- will lack integral management tools. Analysts and third-party developers building Windows 2000-related products say Microsoft is leaving out some tools in order to get the OS out the door.

Microsoft hasconfirmed it’s aiming for an October 6 release for Windows 2000. But sources who have been briefed say that although all the features will be included, some -- such as Active Directory and Intellimirror -- will lack integral management tools.

A source inside Microsoft said October 6 is a “target date” that is “100% subject to review and change.” He added, “We couldn’t give it a [final ship] date before Beta 3 even ships.” Beta 3 is supposed to ship April 21, but a commercial shipping date for Windows 2000 has been elusive.

Analysts and third-party developers building Windows 2000-related products said Microsoft is leaving out some management tools in order to get the operating system out the door.

“It’s becoming painfully obvious that Windows 2000 will not ship intact,” said Steve Kleynhans, an analyst at Meta Group Inc. in Toronto. “The reality is, if Microsoft finds that some of those features are going to delay the release, they start machete programming.”

Some users said that after waiting three years for Windows 2000, they would rather wait a little longer and get those extra tools.

Microsoft “should wait until a lot of those things are ready,” said Brian Moses, assistant vice president of Lombard Canada Inc., a US$500 million insurance company in Toronto. “Frankly, it would be best to wait until those things are ready rather than getting a service pack.”

Moses said that by October, he will be focused on being prepared for year 2000 issues and won’t be in any position to deploy Windows 2000.

Brian McGuire, vice president of Econometrics Inc., a database marketing firm in Chicago, said he would rather wait. “I think they’re trying to beat the date so people don’t slam them for being late all the time,” he said. “As far as delaying tools, what’s the point of releasing it if I’m not go-ing to have everything they promised?”

Karan Khanna, a Microsoft product manager, said users will be able to deploy every feature in Windows 2000 when it ships. “Windows 2000 Beta 3 will be pretty much feature-complete,” he said. “You’ll have Intellimirror and Active Directory.”

Active Directory is a Yellow Pages-like listing of files, users, servers and devices. It was designed to help informa-tion technology administrators keep track of and manage Windows 2000 servers and desktops. Intellimirror is a new desktop management feature. Windows 2000 is also slated to include beefed-up security capabilities.

But Kleynhans and two third-party developers who have been briefed by Microsoft said the features will be available, but tools within them will be missing.

“Their ‘Move Tree’ tool in Active Directory only handles moving users from one location to another, but it doesn’t handle moving organizational units or the contents of one domain to another,” said one third-party developer.

Kleynhans said the missing Active Directory management tools would give IT administrators fine-grained control over their network directory and domains. “Administrators will be able to add users, add systems and manage the directory at a certain level, but to prune or merge directories -- some of the things you don’t do every day but the really big tasks -- those tools will be a little sparse,” he said.

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