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Windows 2000 Releases to Manufacturing - Finally

Written By: R. Krause
Published On: December 22 1999

Event Summary

December 15, 1999 - Microsoft Corp. said Wednesday it finished work on its long-awaited Windows 2000 operating system (a/k/a Win2K), wrapping up a long and painful development project that also represents Microsoft's best hope of dominating Internet computing.

Windows 2000 will not actually be available to users until Feb. 17, when Microsoft plans a gala event to celebrate its release. But the Redmond, Wash., software giant has said for the last several months that it is on track to release the program to its manufacturing plants by the end of the year -- a step that "freezes" the software in the form customers will eventually see.

One of the most complex software projects ever undertaken, Windows 2000 is also one of the most anticipated and most delayed. Well over a year late, the project has been plagued by a variety of setbacks, including a significant redesign and a management reshuffle just over a year ago.

Market Impact

This product is primarily targeted to business users. As is expected with any Microsoft OS release (even Win 98), there will be a lot of "initial adopters". We believe this number will be greater than usual due to the pent-up demand caused by Win2K being so late. However, because of recent Y2K efforts, a number of IS/IT managers (in banks, for example) want to take a brief break from pushing their companies into system-wide upgrades. The Win2K "upgrade" is characterized by some as much more than your typical upgrade - a company's enterprise-wide network structure would probably have to be altered. The proliferation of "yeah-it's-expensive-but-you'll-eventually-get-your-money's-worth" articles also highlights the apparent need to sell the market on the benefits.

Part of the focus for Windows 2000 is the high-end enterprise market. This is at last partially an attempt to go after Sun/Solaris, whose servers have greater market presence in that segment. To be able to compete effectively, Win2K needed to improve its reliability relative to existing Windows products. Toward that end, Microsoft relied heavily on customer testing/feedback. This feedback, while helping to improve quality, is believed to have resulted in some features being dropped.

Microsoft has priced Windows 2000 aggressively, and we expect this will add to the number of early adopters. If it becomes clear that Win2K has overcome the reliability and small-enterprise-only concerns that have hurt Windows in the past, then we expect Microsoft's market share will increase more rapidly .

User Recommendations

Windows 2000 offers users many desirable features, including increased performance, more capable clustering, and functional capabilities for Web serving. Users needing these may want to become early adopters.

Although it is very late to the market, and demand is pent up, users should exercise caution before upgrading. Because of the far-reaching effects of upgrading (actually reworking) a company's IT infrastructure, making the changeover is not for the faint of heart, nor for those managers without a sufficient support structure (technical support, not emotional, although that might need the latter later). In addition, users may want to wait for Microsoft to deliver the inevitable Service Pack 1. Early adopters, while getting their hands on technology sooner than the more cautious ones, also end up finding more bugs. Companies which cannot afford to be "beta testers" will want to wait to see how robust Windows 2000 truly is.

 
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