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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.