Microsoft Releases Multilanguage Version of Windows 2000
One major total cost of ownership (TCO) benefit of Windows 2000 over Windows NT 4.0 for multinational corporations didn’t ship with the general release, but is available now.
Microsoft Corp. (www.microsoft.com) delivered the first cut of its Windows 2000 Professional, MultiLanguage Version in April. The release of the version with support for 11 languages came respectably close to Microsoft’s target of six weeks after the Feb. 17 release of Windows 2000.
The client operating system is designed to simplify Windows 2000 rollouts, usage, and support in multinational corporations and multilanguage organizations. Reference customers include Credit Suisse First Boston and the National Swiss Parliament.
Microsoft (www.microsoft.com ) has released Windows 2000 Professional in 24 languages, but the MultiLanguage Version allows users to switch among languages on the fly. About 95 percent of the operating system in the MultiLanguage Version is localized, with the remaining 5 percent in English. The MultiLanguage Version is new; it has no parallel in Windows NT 4.0 Workstation.
The main business benefit is an easier rollout of the operating system because an organization can purchase licenses based on total employees rather than worrying about ordering different versions of the operating system for employees with different language needs, Microsoft explains. IT logistics are also simplified because an administrator can switch the language at a workstation to support or administer the box even if the user requires a different language.
Microsoft also promotes the version for use with roaming profiles, which keep a user's language settings along with all other personal settings on the network. For example, a German sales representative based in Switzerland could maintain a German language interface when working on a machine at an office in France. Such scenarios are still in the distance for most organizations, as they would require Active Directory implementation.
This first version supports traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Swedish. A refresh release scheduled for mid-July is set to add support for Arabic, Brazilian, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Turkish.
Brian Valentine, senior vice president of Microsoft’s Windows division, says the MultiLanguage Version has been one of the most popular demonstration points in Windows 2000. "Our multinational customers used to deploy several language versions of Windows 2000 in one office to accommodate employees or customers who speak different languages. They have been asking us for some time to simplify this," Valentine said in a statement.
While Microsoft’s promotion of the MultiLanguage Version centers on straightforward benefits, an analyst with IT GartnerGroup (www.garnter.com) says the version can help multilanguage organizations overcome a number of prickly problems they encountered with Windows NT 4.0.
GartnerGroup analyst Michael Silver says the MultiLanguage Version can begin to make it technically practical to consolidate domains across geographies that span an array of languages. With Windows 2000, Microsoft is encouraging corporate network architects to create as few domains as possible to reduce administrative complexity and increase the management power afforded by the Active Directory. While some political and legal barriers remain and raise legitimate reasons to keep domains separate in separate countries, the new version of Windows 2000 Professional lowers the technical barriers.
Under Windows NT, Silver says, "The issue is that folks that are trying to run a domain that spans multiple geographies would end up running multiple code bases. They’d have the French version in France, the Spanish version in Spain, and the English version in the United States."
"The code bases were slightly different. Whenever they’d need to do an upgrade, they’d usually plan to do a lot of regression testing. How does this version interact with that version?" Silver notes.
With the number of service packs Microsoft releases, six so far for Windows NT 4.0, organizations could find themselves in a constant state of interoperability testing. Meanwhile, the staggered rollouts of service packs for different language versions also translated to delays in being able to fix critical security or performance problems.
"For a lot of organizations, this could be a step toward allowing a domain to span different countries, where previously they deployed multiple domains so they wouldn’t have to worry about the problem," Silver says. "It should reduce operating costs in general but also future migration costs."
Microsoft released its first-ever multilanguage version of the Windows NT code base in April with Windows 2000, MultiLanguage Version. The version supports 11 languages. A refresh version to be released this summer will support another 13.