With the launch of Windows 2000 less than a day away, local Microsoft marketing director Peter Cray says the future of the company depends on this release.
"It's the most important release we've ever done in terms of long-term strategy. It will be the foundation for everything we do," Cray said.
He agreed it was inevitable that critics would attempt to derail the success of Windows 2000, but he said the vendor's close working relationship with its customers in the product's development had ensured this would not happen.
"We don't expect that [derailment] to happen. If people were saying 'we don't need the extra reliability. We don't need the extra scalability' now, then we would be very worried," he admitted.
Cray said Microsoft did not expect the launch of Windows 2000 to generate the same degree of "hype" as the launch of Windows 95. "There won't be people lining up outside stores at midnight, as there was with Windows 95," he mused.
Cray said the software giant expected no delays in the widespread enterprise uptake of Windows 2000. Many large corporates had already made "significant commitments" to deploy the product, he said. As an example, he cited ANZ Bank's announcement last week that it would install Windows 2000 on its 29,000 desktop PCs in Australia.
Cray stressed that home PC users and gamers would not benefit from the Windows 2000 operating system. For these users, he said Microsoft would continue to recommend Windows 98. "Very clearly, this [Windows 2000] is not designed for home use. It is a product for small through to medium and large enterprises."
However, he said the company's consumer-targeted operating systems released over the next two to five years would run on the Windows 2000 "kernel". Special versions of the software would also be made available for use in "non-PC devices: cars, phones etc".
"In years to come, it will be the foundation of what we do in the consumer space," he said.