Stay Put, Migrate or Rethink Your Direction

It appears that Windows 2000 will be the best tested and one of the most stable new releases to come out of Microsoft in recent years. Little has surfaced to suggest that there may be severe problems with the operating system, despite a tidal wave of beta copies floating around the industry.

We recently had the chance to spend a day speaking with representatives of the Fairfax, Va. consulting company SSDS (www.ssds.com). The firm has been working with Windows 2000 since before the first public beta as a member of Microsoft’s Rapid Deployment Program. To say they’re enthusiastic about Windows 2000 is an understatement.

A couple individuals at SSDS are self-described Unix bigots, and they insist the only problem Microsoft will have competing with Unix on issues other than absolute scalability will be the name Microsoft. The reference to Windows 2000 being "built on NT Technology" plastered across the front of the box won’t help, either.

Despite the endorsement, this issue’s special report covers some of the details users will have to consider before starting a migration. Chief among them is planning for Active Directory deployment -- regardless of your actual implementation schedule.

Perhaps the single biggest hindrance to implementation is that the real benefit that users will get from Windows 2000. Active Directory-enabled application software, for instance, isn’t here yet, but the costs associated with the upgrade -- ranging from beefing up servers and desktops, to buying upgrades to infrastructure software, to planning, implementing and training -- are quite real and hit home immediately.

Still to be determined is what Windows 2000 will cost, and the specific terms of the licensing agreements.

So what does a user do? The choices are stay put, plan an eventual migration to Windows 2000, or plan an eventual migration to another operating system. Staying put sounds like a great idea, and for some users it may be a viable solution, but only if your application requirements don’t force a move. Will application vendors continue to offer updated versions of their products for Windows NT 4 in parallel with Windows 2000 versions? Maybe for a while, but it won’t be long before the most attractive new features will have a dependence on Windows 2000.

If there was ever a good time to reconsider your commitment to Microsoft technology, this is it. Accept the upgrade, and you’re locked in for a long time to come. Just say no, and you can pick and choose what serves your business needs best.

This is a critical juncture for Microsoft, too. The company has come under fire from a lot of different groups in the past year, including a vocal anything-but-Microsoft (ABM) contingent. Microsoft will boost Linux and other ABM technologies if it continues to alienate its customer base. The remedies are simple: price Windows 2000 right, support NT 4 for a long time to come, and treat customers like the valuable entity they are. If these simple steps are not taken, Microsoft will have to face the consequences.