Batting (Windows) 2000

Another full year of waiting for the successor to Windows NT 4.0 has passed, and in all likelihood, we are still a year away from the final product, analysts say. Aside from the August release of its second beta, last year's most notable NT 5.0 news was its name change to Windows 2000. Why the change is unclear. Whether Microsoft is trying to disassociate itself from NT's reputation as an unreliable operating system or whether it hopes people will lose track of how late NT really is has little bearing on the importance of Windows 2000.

Another full year of waiting for the successor to Windows NT 4.0 has passed, and in all likelihood, we are still a year away from the final product, analysts say.

The name game

Aside from the August release of its second beta, last year’s most notable NT 5.0 news was its name change to Windows 2000. Why the change is unclear. Whether Microsoft is trying to disassociate itself from NT’s reputation as an unreliable operating system or whether it hopes people will lose track of how late NT really is has little bearing on the importance of Windows 2000. According to 200 large user sites surveyed by Computerworld, the percent of applications served by Windows 2000 will increase by nearly 13%during the next two years. Compare that with Unix, which is expected to stay even, and Novell NetWare, which may drop by 10%.

Windows 2000 most certainly will come out in pieces, says Dan Kusnetzky, program director at International Data (IDC) in Framingham, Massachusetts, a sister company to Computerworld. Windows 2000 Professional, Windows 2000 Server and Advanced Server, formerly NT Workstation 5.0, NT Server and NT Server Enterprise edition respectively will likely be delivered in the second half of 1999, he says. The Data Center Server and the 64-bit editions of its pieces won’t come out until 2000, he adds.

What has been seen in the betas gives every indication that Windows 2000 will have a profound impact on the way you work. Its primary features include the following:

- The Active Directory that centrally manages all network information and devices.

- Plug-and-play support, which automatically recognises newly attached devices.

- Compatibility with Windows 95/98, so each will have an upgrade path to Windows 2000.

- The Management Console that replaces multiple utilities with a single interface.

- Support for the Kerberos security system, which has long been used to secure Unix networks.

Analysts say there isn’t much users can do to prepare for Windows 2000, “since making decisions about the operating system without its full context usually leads to disaster,” Kusnetzky says. Also, there’s no rush because most big information technology decisions get based on the database, Web servers and middleware, “which all run fine on NT 4.0,” says Jonathan Eunice, an analyst at Illuminata Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire.

However, Eunice does recommend that users get their systems management in place before Windows 2000 is delivered. “It’s very wise to have good mechanisms for software delivery, single sign-on and security in place before the big software change comes down the pipe.”

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