In the Hoopla over Win 2000, HP Maintains a Steady Course

The reactions to Microsoft’s formal launch of Windows 2000 in February were not entirely unpredictable. Windows fans gave rosy evaluations of the beefed-up operating system, and detractors issued warnings about everything from security to reliability.

In the midst of the hoopla, it was hard to forecast just how far Win 2000 will take Microsoft. Analysts and users seemed to agree that Win 2000 bests NT in terms of scalability and reliability. And most were enthusiastic about Active Directory – the new feature that allows IS managers to manage computers, printers and other devices on their networks.

Whether Win 2000 is a worthy challenger to UNIX, though, remains to be seen. NT boxes are already challenging UNIX systems at the low end, and that is sure to continue, and maybe accelerate, with Win 2000. In fact, last month HP unveiled new Win 2000-certified 4-way/6-way NetServers – the LH 6000 and LT 6000r systems – that offer a considerable price/performance advantage over entry-level UNIX systems.

On the high end, though, it’s a different story. Sun’s and HP’s flavors of UNIX – Solaris and HP-UX – continue to dominate on networking, database and application servers. And, Linux is coming on strong. Sun is also nipping at Microsoft’s heels by attacking NT where it is strongest, by giving away Solaris in the one- to eight-server market.

Then, there are Internet devices – cell phones, pagers and other appliances. Palm OS is whipping Windows CE in this market. And, Linux is catching on for embedded devices. In fact, HP scored a triumph in the embedded device market last month by announcing that Lynx Real-Time Systems has agreed to use Chai, HP’s clone of Java, in BlueCat, the Lynx version of Linux.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Microsoft has lost HP as an ally. HP is one of the few hardware vendors to have embraced CE for small devices, although it uses the operating system only in select products. HP also supports the Windows NT Embedded operating system, which Microsoft announced last September. NT Embedded 4.0 – and Windows Terminal Services Edition, included in Win 2000 – represents Microsoft’s attempt to fight back in the embedded space.

As Microsoft battles to increase market share with its new Windows release, HP remains opportunistic, partnering with any number of vendors, but shying away from exclusive commitments. HP has traditionally positioned itself as a Switzerland in vendor skirmishes. It has remained neutral, while Microsoft battled with Sun, Oracle, and others in the Java wars, and steadfastly continues to support different operating systems – HP-UX, MPE/iX, Linux and Windows.

HP’s strategy for Win 2000 is, of course, critical to HP Professional, which views Win 2000 and all other technologies primarily in terms of their effect on HP users. And that raises another issue – the reason why I’m writing this editorial.

As a writer and an editor who has covered HP for several years, I’m a longtime fan of HP Professional. Now, I’m delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to it by working for 101communications, the publisher of the magazine.

As HP Professional’s Editor at Large, I have the opportunity to renew old acquaintances in the HP arena and make new friends. I hope you – the readers – will get in touch with me and give me your comments, suggestions and even criticisms of articles and features. Your feedback will help me to contribute in a way that meets your needs.

 

Jean Nattkemper

jnattkemper@hppro.com