Despite the current hype, it will be at least five years until application service providers (ASPs) become commonplace, according to a senior Microsoft executive.
John Connors, vice president of Microsoft's worldwide enterprise group, said the ASP principle was `more complicated than it appears on the surface', and users should give the practice due consideration before hosting their applications.
`A lot of US venture capitalists are putting money into it,' Connors said. `But technology that's good in-house may not be so good when it's hosted. It's quite a simplistic approach to think they [users] can click on a browser and it's all there.
`Customers need to think through their IT architecture and know how much data they want to have off-site,' he said.
Connors said there would be `a number of opportunities for small businesses' to use ASPs in 12-18 months, `but not in big volume. In five years, it will be a sizeable business,' he said.
Connors says the `dot-com' phenomenon has changed the way business makers look at technology including applications and devices.
`The number of connected devices is going to proliferate,' he predicted. Connors says the real growth is in non-PC devices, such as mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and WebTV. `Anywhere people live and work will have an IP-enabled device,' he said.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has `bet the ranch' on Windows 2000, which Connors said was `rock solid' and addresses the `real and perceived reliability issues in Windows NT'.
Despite warnings from analysts such as GartnerGroup, Connors said the Win2K early adopters were `wildly enthusiastic' about the new operating system.