Leading analyst Gartner-Group is recommending its clients wait on purchasing Windows 2000 until other priority issuesare dealt with and the stability of the system is proven.
According to Bruce McCabe, research director at Gartner, the issue is more one of timing than any perceived fault in the software.
`The launch of Windows 2000 is at a particularly frenetic time. Not only are people having to deal with Y2K issues, they are preparing for GST in Australia and then will move on to e-commerce developments they have been putting off before they even think about Windows 2000,' said McCabe.
The other concern is of course the stability of the system, with McCabe cautiously predicting that with 30 million lines of code businesses `would be wise to hold off, see how stable the system is, and then maybe purchase the second release'.
McCabe predicts that it will only be towards the end of 2000 that the adoption of Windows 2000 will accelerate. `The uptake of Windows 2000 will be much slower than Windows 9x and NT,' he said.
McCabe qualified this by adding that there are several `flavours of Windows 2000' and that some editions, such as the server series, might experience a more rapid uptake.
Microsoft is confident of the system's abilities and, according to Craig Beilinson, product manager for Windows 2000: `We are at the point where we feel comfortable with the bits for Windows 2000.'
On the local front, Peter Cray, marketing director for Microsoft Australia, believes `we will see tremendous growth in the next calendar year and already there is a lot of interest in Windows 2000. People are embracing it wholeheartedly.'
McCabe is not denying that the interest surrounding the operating system is intense and that beta tests have produced only the usual `crashes and failures'.
`Anyone who says that Windows 2000 won't be Microsoft's next dominant platform is a brave person. But the uptake will be slow and steady, not spectacular,' said McCabe.
`There are still a surprising number of people out there using Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 and 98. A proportion of them have migrated to Windows NT. So there are a lot of Microsoft systems out there and the take-up of new ones will have to be taken pretty seriously,' said McCabe.
GartnerGroup suggests to all its clients that before migrating to the new operating system, organisations should determine the total cost of ownership and the return on investment. `If a company is going to reduce management costs, or make software deployment easier, or reduce downtime by deploying Windows 2000, they need to quantify the savings and compare that to the cost, because Windows 2000 is a major undertaking,' explained McCabe.
Despite these warnings, McCabe believes the channel has unrealistic expectations of the initial impact Windows 2000 will have on their businesses. `The channel needs to come back down to earth, but you never know. You might get one of those funny phenomena where people line up around the block at midnight when it is released.'
Microsoft will use International Data Group's Windows 2000 Conference and Expo, which runs from February 15 to 17 2000 at San Francisco's Moscone Centre, to launch the operating system.
The February release will include Windows 2000 Professional, the desktop version of the software, Windows 2000 Server and Windows 2000 Advanced Server. The high-end DataCenter version is expected to ship in June 2000.
Exchange users will get the newest version of that server, Exchange 2000, in May next year.