The technology rat race has added another milepost, measuring where everyone ranks in the effort to have the latest products. Microsoft is expected to release Windows 2000 some time late this year, adding another dilemma to the technology budget: Upgrade to the new operating system or stay put?
New software can be one of the most difficult issues, because the results of implementing it are hard to measure. Will there be productivity gains? How do you know? Will it cause problems with other software and hardware? If the current system isnt broken, should we fix it?
With Windows 2000, some of these questions are easily answered, based mainly on which version of Windows you are currently using.
Windows 2000 is the same as Windows NT 5.0, says John Ruley, senior technology editor with Windows Magazine (which isnt affiliated with Microsoft). Ruley has been testing the beta version of the software for some time. All thats changed is the name. For those businesses that want to jump to NT, the logical upgrade path is Windows 2000. Those using NT 4.0 should considering going to this also.
The new operating system has better hardware support, will run on notebook computers, and has some new features, such as encryption, multimedia support and active directories. But a lot of the new features are more appealing to large enterprise customers; a small network wont see a lot of difference.
The reasons why you wouldnt go to NT also apply to Windows 2000, says Ruley. For anyone who isnt already running NT, youll need hardware upgrades and memory upgrades. Youll need 64 megs or better on the desktops, and dont even think about a server with less than 128 megs of memory, and if its busy, the demands go up from there rapidly. Its also not compatible with everything in the universe, and theres no bet whether it will run even if you upgrade your memory.
Unless you have a good reason, Windows 2000 isnt something you want to upgrade to just so you can have the latest, greatest thing.
Todd Shryock(email@example.com) is SBNs> special reports editor.
The name game
Microsofts planned release of Windows 2000 later this year may confuse a lot of software buyers.
Up until this point, Windows was differentiated between network users and desktop users by name: Windows NT products were for network users and Windows 95 and 98 were for the desktop. NT products had version numbers, such as 3.0, so you knew how current your software was compared to what Microsoft was releasing.
The problem is, Windows 2000 seems like the logical upgrade for Windows 98, but its actually the equivalent of Windows NT 5.0, and is intended as an upgrade for Windows NT 4.0. Its meant for network users, not for the average person.
The only current upgrade for Windows 98 available, is Windows 98 SE, which is basically the same thing as 98, with the inclusion of bug fixes, Explorer 5.0 and the ability for several computers to use the same Internet connection through a single Windows 98 machine.