Windows 2000 Beta Delayed, Silence is Deafening

<img src="/graphics/pleasewait2.jpg" align=right>Microsoft Corp. confirmed that there will be a delay in the release of Windows 2000 Beta 3, pushing the target date back from March to April. But there is no uproar. Brian Valentine, vice president of the Windows operating systems division at Microsoft, made the announcement at a Seattle technical conference last month. The software giant contends, however, the new operating system will be out before the end of 1999.

Microsoft Corp. confirmed that there will be a delay in the release of Windows 2000 Beta 3, pushing the target date back from March to April. But there is no uproar. Brian Valentine, vice president of the Windows operating systems division at Microsoft, made the announcement at a Seattle technical conference last month. The software giant contends, however, the new operating system will be out before the end of 1999.

Systems administrators are greeting news of the latest delay of Windows NT with a yawn. Dale Greenwood, president of Castle International Resources (www.castlekeep.com), a builder of Windows NT-based systems, and a board member of several small OEMs on the West Coast, says most of the noise over the delay is more public relations than anything else. Since the release of Service Pack 4, which seemed to fix most of the problems in NT 4.0, and the release of Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack, Greenwood contends it feels as if he's already using what he calls NT 4.5.

A much-reported problem with Windows 2000 are bugs in Active Directory. No one from Microsoft, however, has commented on this. Greenwood feels Active Directory is a tool NT can do without for now, anyway. He’s found third-party tools, such as Novell Directory Services (NDS), perform and integrate well into an NT environment.

Greenwood also believes the delay won't have many long-term effects on Microsoft. "Other options out there are Sun [Solaris] and Novell [NetWare], but they're so massively expensive and take such a different learning curve that it ads such an expense," he says. "When you look at business and marketing plans, and you put the numbers for training in the mix, you really have to make an informed decision about which direction to head in and stick with it."

Some concern for Microsoft could be the recent surge of Linux and the support it's received from big names such as Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Intel Corp. Greenwood says most administrators are dabbling in Linux but that's as far as they go.

No one is really concerned in Redmond, Wash., either, says Craig Beilinson, Windows product manager. The project may be a little off schedule but the overall quality will be much better, he says. Beilinson, who focuses on the workstation end of Windows 2000, says he received positive feedback about the robustness of the workstation but got complaints about the installation, upgrades from Windows 95/98 and its notebook support. "Beyond that, we're doing a number of finishing improvements that would have been required for Beta 3 anyway," Beilinson says.

There were rumors that Windows 2000 wouldn't see the light of day before the end of the year and that there would be an interim 4.5 release of NT instead. Beilinson says people may have been confused with Microsoft's recent release of BackOffice 4.5. He gave assurances that Windows 2000 is still on schedule to be released in the second half of 1999.

Castle's Greenwood says the only thing bothering systems administrators is all of the marketing and expectations Windows 2000 is getting. Besides that, he describes the whole issue as anti-climactic.