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Microsoft beefs up Windows 2000 for servers

Microsoft is adding new features to its Windows 2000 operating system, focusing on technology for firewalls and caching data.

Microsoft is developing new networking and security software for server editions of the Windows 2000 operating system.

Microsoft soon will test faxing and speech recognition software as well as Proxy Server technology featuring firewall security and Web caching, according to a report by BetaNews.com.

Microsoft also is building client software for Windows 95 and 98 and NT 4.0 so that users of the older operating systems can take advantage of the new Windows 2000 features, the report said. Furthermore, the company is adding components to its NetMeeting videoconferencing software.

Windows 2000 is an upgrade of the company's current Windows NT operating system, which is due out by the end of the year following several delays.

Microsoft is merely continuing its tradition of adding new features to its operating systems, according to Dwight Davis, an analyst with Summit Strategies.

"They're following their standard progression of piling more stuff either into the operating system or as optional add-ons," Davis said.

The new technology, code-named Comet, is mostly communications-based, a strategy the company has focused on for its Windows NT server.

"The basis of NT in the early days was to be an alternative to Novell's NetWare," Davis said."A hefty percentage of the server operating system has been communications in nature. And it's been beefed up over the years in light of the Internet."

As for the speech recognition software, Microsoft has spent several years working to improve it, Davis noted.

A Microsoft spokeswoman would not comment directly on the Comet technology, calling it "premature to discuss." But she added: "Microsoft continues to work with independent software vendors to innovate in areas such as firewall, caching and telephony."

Firewalls are a combined hardware and software buffer that many companies put in place between their internal networks and the Internet, while data are cached, or temporarily stored, in a computer when a Webpage is downloaded.

Nate Mook, BetaNews.com's Webmaster, said he believes the firewall, proxy and caching technology will become the successor to the Proxy Server 2.0 available today.

Microsoft bundled the security and networking software together for easier beta testing, but the company may ship the technology separately, Mook said.