As the Microsoft marketing machine shifted into top gear last
week to herald the release of Windows 2000, the boys in Redmond
were forced to slam on the brakes at the last minute when the
European Commission (EC) threatened to force them off the road.
In a move that echoes the US Department of Justice (DoJ)
antitrust trial, the EC has launched an investigation into whether
the operating system will allow its creators to get a stranglehold
on the ebusiness market in Europe.
Swerving to avoid one obstacle, Microsoft drove straight into
another as Michael Dell, chief executive of Dell Computer, gave the
release a drubbing. In a conference call in which the company
released its fourth quarter earnings report, he said he had not
seen a rush of corporate customers upgrading their hardware systems
to deal with Windows 2000: "We don't see a massive acceleration due
to Windows 2000."
Analyst GartnerGroup was next to put the boot in, with a report
that said Windows 2000 will cause untold incompatibility problems
for half of all users who roll it out.
The organisation has advised its clients to wait several months
before purchasing the desktop version of Windows 2000, and to wait
until at least June before buying the server edition.
Gartner expects only 20 per cent of all desktop Windows users to
upgrade to Windows 2000 this year, and forecasts that no more than
five per cent of server customers are likely to do so.
The views of IT managers
Given the events of the last fortnight, Network News talked to IT
managers to find out whether recent speculation about the prospects
for the operating system have dented enthusiasm for NT4's
Network News: Do you think the investigations
by the EC and the US DoJ into Windows 2000, and the possibility of
alterations to the OS as a result, will discourage users from
rolling it out?
Steve Hennerley, network manager, Priory High
School: "I don't think people really take all that much
notice of the DoJ trials. If the operating system offers what
people want, the stability and security that it promises, then they
will roll it out. The big thing that will stop people is if a
change to the operating system means more service packs and more
Mike Varley, network manager, North Area College
Stockport: "I'm sure all these issues will be addressed by
any organisation considering Windows 2000, but by far the biggest
issues from my point of view are: Is it stable? Is it cost
effective? And what does it give us that we don't already
NN: What is your general impression of
Microsoft as a company?
John Skelton, IT manager of a software house:
"Microsoft is dreadfully out of touch with its users and developers
and too often tries to bullshit about what its software does or
will do and what other people's can or can't do. Why it thinks we'd
fall for that is beyond me."
Steve Hennerley: "For all its faults, I think
it's a pretty reasonable company. I don't think any other big
company in its position would do any better or command any greater
respect from other companies."
NN: Are you evaluating Windows 2000 at the
moment and, if so, when are you planning to roll it out?
Mark Steele, senior network engineer at fund manager,
Thomas Miller: "We will not implement Windows 2000 until
it has proven itself at larger sites. I would hate to repeat the
pain that Netware 4.01 caused."
David Damerell, computer officer, Cambridge
University: "We have advised people not to touch it until
at least the first service pack."
John Skelton: "We have no plans to implement it
at the moment. We'll wait at least six months, carefully monitoring
others' experiences. I'm sick of buggy Microsoft software, and
don't have the time to waste suffering it."
Emma Appleton, IT manager, Town Centre
Securities: "I am evaluating Windows 2000, and it's very
good so far - a user friendly version of Windows NT, as far as the
users are concerned. It's also quite simple to configure and so far
has been stable. I'll roll out Windows 2000 about one to two months
after it has been released, to ensure any major glitches have been
NN: If you are planning to roll out Windows
2000, what features attracted you to it and how do you think it
compares to Linux and Netware 5.1?
Steve Hennerley: "I'm not a fan of Netware 5.1
- I think it's harder to manage than the others, though I'm sure
thousands of Netware 5.1 system operators will disagree. I'm not
aware of any features that are useful enough to my organisation for
it to upgrade away from NT4."
Mark Steele:"The only reason we will roll
out Windows 2000 is that NT4 will no longer be available. We won't
roll it out because it's such a good product, but because we'll
have no choice. Netware is currently best of breed and Windows
2000 will have to be really special to persuade us to migrate to it
for file and print services. Migration will not be easy and
considerable expense will be incurred."
Mike Varley: "It's stability and reliability
that I want from a server operating system. I would rather have
that than bells and whistles any day. Netware has proved to be very
solid and Unix (AIX in our case) hasn't crashed in four years."
NN: What features, if any, needed to be
improved in Windows NT, and from what you have seen of Windows
2000, has Microsoft solved them?
David Damerell: "Stability, scalability,
ability to run more than one major service on a machine without it
falling over three times a day, and an atrocious user interface.
Traditional command line Unix has a user interface that's
challenging at first but which rewards experience. Windows is
approachable but doesn't become noticeably quicker with
John Skelton: "NT needs rebooting far too
often, even for trivial configuration changes. Also, it has too
many annoying differences from 95/98, as well as too many bugs.
There's yet to be a really good patch. Windows 2000 has far too
much new code, leading to more incompatibilities and probably more
new bugs. Microsoft doesn't seem to care about stability - it says
it does, but all the evidence says otherwise."
NN: Are you using Netware directory services in
your current environment and, if so, are you worried about the
continuing lack of integration with Active Directory? Would this be
reason enough for you not to roll out Windows 2000?
Mark Steele: "We use Novell's NDS, but we don't
integrate it with NT. I personally would not like to see NDS
interfaced with Active Directory. Active Directory has a long way
to go before it becomes a proven technology, and Novell knows all
about the pain that a directory can cause if it's not a stable
product at launch. I suspect the long delays in releasing the
product are because they want to get it right first time."
Mike Varley: "Yes, we are using NDS and it
works very well indeed. I have no plans for Active Directory for
the time being. Integration is a concern but NDS is not going to
disappear overnight. I won't get really worried for a couple of
years, by which time things may have changed dramatically."
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