Windows 2000 Delivers the Goods

Information technology managers have been eager to see the enhancements

promised in Windows 2000.

Microsoft Corp.'s new family of operating system products started shipping

Feb. 17 and includes Windows 2000 Professional for desktop and notebook

computers, Windows 2000 Server for general-purpose servers, and Windows

2000 Advanced Server for high-end application servers.

Windows 2000 may not solve all the problems facing IT staff, and it

will take significant planning to install across a large organization. However,

the OS offers greater operating stability, security and manageability. Windows

2000 also delivers broad support for new hardware, plug-and-play compatibility

and strong power management.

Because of subsystem and stability improvements throughout the product,

Windows 2000 Server competes much better across a landscape that ranges

from the Unix-based application server operating systems (such as Sun Microsystems

Inc.'s Solaris, Hewlett-Packard Co.'s HP-UX and Linux) to the file-and-print

platforms, such as Novell Inc.'s NetWare.

Windows 2000 Server doesn't necessarily offer the best-of-breed solution

on all points, nor is it shipping on systems equivalent to the "big iron"

on which some of the Unix competitors offer their products, but the OS does

compete well across the board.

Microsoft's multipurpose server OS strategy has never looked more attractive.

Windows 2000 Server tops other server operating systems in terms of breadth

by delivering perhaps the broadest combination of rich application and enterprise

infrastructure services, coupled with capable file-and-print services.

This release improves a number of core subsystems, such as the Windows

NT executive services, management and networking services. In addition,

Microsoft has integrated into Windows 2000 enhanced versions of products

that used to ship as add-ons to Windows NT 4.0, such as Microsoft Transaction

Server, Message Queue Server, and Routing and Remote Access.

Windows 2000 Server also includes an entirely new security infrastructure

and a new administration and management infrastructure.

Certainly the most touted feature of Windows 2000 Server is Microsoft's

Active Directory. After trailing the competition (most notably Novell and

Banyan Systems Inc.) for years with respect to directory services, Active

Directory is Microsoft's first attempt at combining the functional breadth

of the Windows NT platform with a capable underlying enterprise directory

for managing users, computers and other resources.

Active Directory offers nice administration benefits compared with Windows

NT 4.0. One is the ability to delegate administrative control to users and

groups throughout the directory. Another is its scalability, which shatters

Windows NT 4.0's limit of 40,000 accounts per domain for a master account

domain and brings it into the millions-of-objects level.

Reaping all the benefits of Active Directory may be far down the road

for agencies that have older Windows or non-Windows clients. That's because

some of the benefits can only be realized after enabling "native mode" operation

within a domain — a step that requires that all domain controllers within

the domain be upgraded to Windows 2000 Server first — and upgrading client

machines with an Active Directory-aware network redirector.

Overall, Windows 2000 Server provides great improvements over its predecessors.

Just be aware that deploying Windows 2000 in your agency will require additional

training and more hardware, and the migration will need to be well-planned

and staged over a long-term time line.

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