bridge of the enterprise: Windows 2000

The new name of Windows NT, on the off chance you haven’t seen this yet, is Windows 2000. The handwriting may be on the wall. Either that, or Microsoft is simply making some name changes for sale’s sake.

Windows NT Server will get names like Windows 2000 Server, Advanced Server and Enterprise. Windows NT Workstation will become Windows 2000 Professional. What about Windows 2000 "Amateur" or Windows 2000 "Home"? The time may be fast approaching for Microsoft to make the final move away from DOS.

Let’s start with NT. Popular belief is that NT always stood for "New Technology", but the technology is no longer new. Besides, the new names fit nicely with Windows 98, Office 2000, Publisher 97 and so on. Another reason for change may be due to the fact that the product is so vastly different than its predecessor, with some 40 million new lines of code. If that’s not enough, perhaps the name change has something to do with a perceived expectation the public has for bugs in NT. How about a final merging of Windows 9X with NT? Perhaps it is a combination of all of the above.

Microsoft is a marketing machine, which makes me think this name change has more to do with marketing than a new moniker. Has the time finally come where we will bid farewell to the fat file system? Was FAT32 a migration path?

It is fair to speculate this will name change will signify the end of the Windows 9X world and provide us with the home version of Microsoft’s new single operating system – Windows 2000 Home. Imagine Windows 2000 Professional without networking capabilities and sans security and hardware profiles. This could be the move to ensure that corporate America moves to the desktop of Windows 2000 Professional. It has been clear for some time that this is the direction Microsoft is pushing toward.

Think about it. If Microsoft goes down the path of a single operating system and gets it right – robust and secure with a higher level of reliability – the corporate world will move to this operating system on the desktop, but will do so over the period of several years. Add real laptop support and a corporate standard across the enterprise and you have something.

Now take away things like networking and security and call the resulting product Windows 2000 Home and move corporate desktops exclusively to Professional. Not shabby, huh? Microsoft knows exactly how to do this stuff.

It is very likely that events will unfold this way. In preparation, make sure all the PCs you buy will support Windows 2000 Professional. Bulk them up and keep the grandfathering of that equipment going. New equipment should have at least 64 MB of memory – 128 would be better – and the processor should be a minimum 266 MHz if you plan on people putting up with them.

As a result of this movement and the increased hardware requirements on the desktop, now is the time to evaluate Terminal Server and thin clients. Terminal Server will require much more beef on the server side, but will enable full functionality on the desktop without the substantial hardware, setup and support costs associated with fat clients. These puppies will save your company untold dollars in hardware and licensing costs and help keep the hair of your network and desktop support gurus intact.

The millennium is fast approaching and with it many changes to our lives both at home and in the workplace. Expect Microsoft to be a major influence in our daily lives and Windows 2000 – both the Professional and Server versions as well as the yet-unannounced home version – to be a significant part of that influence.

A veteran of the IBM midrange arena since 1983, Chris Gloede is executive VP for Business Solutions Group in Wayne, Pa. cgloede@thebsg.com.