With Windows 2000, Microsoft will offer a wider variety of licensing options, which in turn will come at closer price points.
Subsequent versions will also be named for years. Windows 2001 or 2002, for example, are likely successors. Products will be underscored with a "Built on Windows NT technology" promise to ensure customers the technology remains consistent.
Microsoft will market four different versions of Windows 2000: a desktop version and three different versions for servers, which vary according to price, performance, and the number of processors that the OS will accommodate.
Windows 2000 for servers will run on servers containing up to two processors. Windows 2000 Advanced Server will work with machines running as many as four processors. Boxes running Advanced Server can also be tied together in fail-safe clusters, under which one machine can cover for another in the event of a breakdown. Windows 2000 Datacenter server meanwhile will be capable of handling 16 processors and more memory and will support clustered configurations.
Currently, Microsoft markets a desktop version of Windows NT 4.0 for the desktop and two different types of the OS for servers. The difference between the standard version of NT for servers and the enterprise edition, however, are fairly staggering. A normal ten-seat license can cost around $800, sources said. A ten-seat version of the enterprise edition, meanwhile, runs about $8,000 when all of the license requirements are met and clustering features are added, said sources.
The great price disparity has been difficult to justify to customers, hardware executives have said. The three-tiered pricing structure will modulate the price jumps to a certain degree.
Brad Chase, vice president of Windows marketing at Microsoft, seemed to also indicate that the price points will be closer. He did not give prices, but did state that Windows 2000 Advanced Server will cost less than the current NT 4.0 enterprise edition.
The Windows 200X designation will also be seen in the company's next consumer operating system. Windows 98 will be followed by an NT-based OS sometime in the next two to two and a half years, company executives have said. Earlier, tentative names included Windows 2000, sources said earlier.
Chase said the name change will allow Microsoft to get more mileage out of the Windows brand name. The new campaign will "infuse the strength of NT with the most popular software brand name in the world," he said.
In addition, Windows 2000 will be more "in sync with Office 2000" from a brand perspective. Office 2000 is the upcoming productivity suite from Microsoft. The name change will also work to ensure customers that their software is Year 2000 compliant, he further added.
Windows 2000 will emerge in 1999, he said, and will become a substantial part of the market by the year 2000.