Windows 2000 Hitting Shelves February 2000

Microsoft Corp. has set a launch date for its eagerly anticipated Windows 2000 operating system. While Windows 2000 Professional, Server and Advanced Server will all be released to manufacturing by the end of the year, general retail, channel and OEM availability has been set for February 17, 2000 at IDG World Expo's Windows 2000 Conference.

The announcement was made to those who have the most interest in a hard-coded release date at Partner Marketing Day in Las Vegas this week. The day was set to discuss industry support plans for Windows 2000, while hardware manufacturers, third-party software developers and service providers discussed migration plans for the new platform.

Microsoft will also deliver a third and final Release Candidate to Microsoft's Joint Deployment and Rapid Deployment corporate test programs between now and the launch in February. Next month's Fall Comdex will be the venue at which Microsoft will roll out its vision for Windows 2000.

That vision includes an easier way to Internet-enable businesses using the integrated Web application services, increased scalability, security, reliability and manageability. There will also be new "devices" to service knowledge workers.

It's been a long time coming for W2K, formerly Windows NT 5.0 until a year ago when the company changed the name, while still saying the operating system would be in customers' hands before that calendar year.

In a teleconference earlier this month, analysts from International Data Corp. (IDC, outlined several obstacles to early adoption of Windows 2000. "I think to a degree people will be disappointed with the hype," said Al Gillen, research manager, server operating infrastructure with IDC. Gillen believes that the potential benefits from implementing Windows 2000 -- COM+, Active Directory, IntelliMirror -- also lock companies to that platform and therefore the trade-off is too great.

Another pitfall of implementing Windows 2000 Server is that in order to derive the most benefit from using it, all desktops would have to be upgraded to Windows 2000 Professional, and the costs of hardware upgrades, Windows 2000 software installation and purchasing new software that runs on the new platform would be just too great.

The Linux operating system also poses a potential threat to Windows 2000 Server, according to IDC, as a more server-centric Linux model builds over the next few years as well as new packaged applications designed for the Linux platform. Dan Kusnetzky, research manager, server operating infrastructure with IDC, says when Microsoft needed to introduce the functional server approach to overcome scalability issues to put Windows in the data center, it opened the doors for Linux, which can play a similar role, and at a much lower price point. It's already doing so with Apache Web servers and sendmail e-mail handlers. -- Brian Ploskina

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.