A growing number of analysts are warning users not to expect delivery of Windows 2000 before the middle of next year. However, resellers and integrators appear unfazed.
The timeframe projected by analysts is at least six months after the delivery date pinpointed last week by Ed Muth, Microsoft's group product manager for Windows NT. Muth's revised date came after Microsoft announced a one-month delay in the release of the third beta of the Windows NT upgrade. In a statement last year, it pegged mid-1999 for the final release of Windows 2000.
But the delays do not seem to be presenting any problem for the channel. Instead they want Microsoft to make sure they get it right.
"I have never expected it to be out until well into 2000. I don't care if it is left to Q3 of 2000 as long as it is right," said Tony Prince, managing director of reseller ComPlus Computers.
Prince added that there is no pressure from corporate customers who are generally satisfied with NT.
John Grant, managing director of system integrator Data #3, agreed. "There is no expectation that Windows 2000 will be the complete solution."
Craig Bastow, group manager, NC Data Division of Brisbane's Silicon Data, said: "While the delay is disappointing, it is not unexpected. I don't think anyone would want to introduce the new operating system so close to Y2K D-Day." Like Prince, Bastow was not concerned about the delay. "The combination of Windows Terminal Server and Citrix Metaframe allows us to deliver commercial solutions today, so delays won't have a serious impact on us."
Rob Enderle, a vice president at Giga Information Group, is one analyst predicting further delays.
"Based on Microsoft's history and the events coming up this year, like Y2K, I don't see them coming out with Windows 2000 this year," he said.
"Windows 95 and 98 were both midyear releases. I don't see a difference in the timing of Windows 2000, and there's a lot more going on this year than ever before. For example, Microsoft's developers may have to deal with emergency Y2K situations. And don't forget that this is the most complex product they've ever come out with."
Michael Silver, an analyst at Gartner Group, said he too isn't expecting a release until well into the first half of 2000. And he's telling clients not to deploy the operating system until the first service pack is released, so that may push any deployment possibilities back another six months. The reason may be that many users say they have no intention of buying Windows 2000 until they have gotten through the year 2000.
Additionally, there are other ripple effects, Enderle said. Microsoft could face "a fairly significant problem in terms of revenue" next year. "Our customers, which are Fortune 1000 and Fortune 500, are not going to move to Office 2000 until they get Windows 2000. The same will probably go for the BackOffice suite too . . . I have a hard time seeing Microsoft having anywhere near the growth they've had in the last few years," he said.