Early Adoption and Windows 2000

In the past year, a number of consulting firms and system integrators have advised their clients to delay deployment of Windows 2000 until Microsoft Corp. ships the first service pack for its next-generation operating system. This is an obvious warning grounded in Microsoft’s reputation for poor stability with previous releases. But many end users, however, are impressed with Windows 2000’s stability and plan to start implementing the operating system on their own timetable.

Benjamin Zachary, a senior network manager with Internet service provider Dial ISDN (www.dialisdn.net), reports that he is testing Windows 2000 Professional, Server, and Advanced Server in both his public enterprise and private home networks.

"We have found the operating system to be extremely stable in relation to its predecessor. As a company providing Internet, Web, SQL, and VPN solutions, we are recommending it to all our clients as soon as it becomes financially viable," Zachary comments.

Andrew Baker, a brokerage information systems coordinator at Lewco Securities Corp. (www.schroders.com), a unit of Schroder Group, agrees.

"Windows 2000, even in beta, is much more stable than even [Windows] NT 4.0 [updated with] Service Packs 4 or 5," he says. "It runs most things more efficiently than its predecessor, even though it does require about 64 MB of RAM more than NT 4.0 did in similar configurations, and 128 MB more RAM for server environments."

Despite positive experiences, many IT managers will fall back on their natural conservatism and begin installing Windows 2000 incrementally. They will likely deploy Windows 2000 Professional first, well in advance of Windows 2000 Server or Advanced Server. They say this is not a stability concern, but a reflection of their individual circumstances.

"I will roll out Windows 2000 Professional as soon as it becomes available in place of where I would have rolled out Windows NT 4.0 workstation," notes one IT manager with a not-for-profit organization in Minnesota. "My feeling is that when it comes to desktop operating systems, that as long as one respects budgetary restraints, staying current with Microsoft has always benefited IT, my company, and my users."

According to Dial ISDN’s Zachary, IT organizations must always take into account the impact that large scale migrations will have on end users.

"We are looking to migrate as [soon as it is] feasible, but having over 1,000 Web sites and 1,500 users, we have to minimize our impact on the end user," he says.

This view, however, is not universally accepted. A number of IT executives will not, by any means, install Windows 2000 this spring. Mark Housler, a systems administrator at American Partners Federal Credit Union (www.apfcu.com), says his IT organization won’t roll-out Windows 2000 until end-of-year 2000 -- at the earliest.

"Due to hardware upgrades and an overall lack of confidence in a version 1.0 release, we will not be deploying Windows 2000 any earlier that Q4 2000, and probably later than that," Housler says. "I will be testing it thoroughly with our current hardware configurations and software and see how it shakes out."

A network administrator with an Oklahoma-based transportation company cites stability concerns as a major reason why he will wait to deploy Windows 2000.

"Due to stability issues, I believe that my company is not going to roll out Windows 2000 immediately," he says. In fact, his organization only upgraded from its Windows NT 3.51-based servers in May 1999.

"The chance of us going to Windows 2000 before it has been out for at least two service packs is not all that great," he says. "I do not envy those Microsoft customers who are so-called early adopters, because I believe that they are going to have more headaches than they realize."

These cautious opinions are widespread among IT managers, according to Dan Kusnetzky, director of worldwide operating environments at International Data Corp. (IDC, www.idc.com).

"We have some survey data showing that almost everyone is planning to wait until the technology stabilizes," Kusnetzky says. He explains that a common response from many of IDC’s clients is that they plan to wait until Service Pack 1 for Windows 2000 ships before making any choices about deployment. "Medium [sites of] 100 to 999 employees and large [sites of] 1,000-plus employees plan to wait between a year and two years to adopt Windows 2000," he says.

Others in the analyst community are recommending the same path. GartnerGroup (www.gartnergroup.com) is telling its clientele to delay rolling-out Windows 2000 until at least 2001, by which time it expects Microsoft to have shipped a stable update of the operating system complete with consolidated bug fixes.