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Commentary: Bug fixes clear one hurdle for Windows 2000

The effect of Microsoft's release of the first collection of fixes needs to be viewed from two perspectives: client and server.

    By Michael Silver and John Enck, Gartner Analysts

    The effect of releasing the first collection of Windows 2000 bug fixes needs to be viewed from two perspectives: client and server.

    On the client side, Gartner has advised that businesses can deploy Windows 2000, in many circumstances, before the release of the bug fixes--if the businesses have already completed

    See news story:
    Microsoft releases Windows 2000 bug fixes
    application and peripheral compatibility testing and have trained their IT staff.

    For example, a business with an existing strategy to deploy Windows 2000 could use the operating system now when deploying new desktop and laptop hardware.

    Despite this recommendation, a number of businesses with which we have spoken said they wanted to wait for the bug fixes--dubbed Service Pack 1 (SP 1)--before deploying Windows 2000. These businesses, provided their compatibility testing is complete, will help increase the number of Windows 2000 sales and installations.

    Other businesses that have not completed the multi-month process of application compatibility testing--or deferred it until SP 1 arrived--could add a few additional deployments. For these companies, the transition to Windows 2000 will begin after that testing is complete late this year or early next year.

    On the server side, Gartner has advised businesses to wait at least until Microsoft releases the first major, proven service pack. Furthermore, most businesses tend to be more conservative about server deployments of Windows 2000 than they are about client deployments of Windows 2000.

    The release of SP 1 represents one less barrier to putting Windows 2000 servers into actual production environments.

    The largest number of server-side rollouts of Windows 2000 will likely occur in 2001 because of the planning process inherent in the transition. This time frame has nothing to do with the stability of SP 1's code.

    It takes time to build the supporting infrastructure as well as plan for support and implementation of the Active Directory feature in Windows 2000. A planning period of six to nine months just for Active Directory is not unusual.

    The testing process required to bring Windows 2000 into a production environment is lengthy, which further stretches the transition time required.

    Windows 2000 will likely undergo two waves of stability issues. The first wave occurred soon after launch, when early adopters deployed Windows 2000 on many laptops and desktops and, to a much lesser extent, on servers. The first-wave issues were relatively minor, and many issues should be resolved in SP 1.

    However, Gartner expects a second wave of issues to crop up when leading-edge users of new features, such as Active Directory, move to large-scale production. This should occur in late 2000, and it will probably take Microsoft through the first half of next year to resolve most of the problems in this wave.

    In fact, the second release of Windows 2000 (expected by the second half of 2001) can actually be a seen as the major service pack to resolve the second wave of problems.

    At this point, it is too early to say whether SP 1 is truly major and proven. Although SP 1 represents a milestone, the release of SP 1 does not open the floodgates on a dam of pent-up Windows 2000 deployment.

    The Windows 2000 sales and launch cycle will be more gradual because this operating system is so much more complex than previous Microsoft operating system releases.

    (For related commentary on one user's experience upgrading from Windows 95 to Windows 2000 Professional, see registration required.)

    Entire contents, Copyright © 2000 Gartner Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.