Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates formally launched its business-oriented Windows 2000 operating system on Thursday in a star-studded gala affair in San Francisco. The launch event was accompanied by the immediate availability of the desktop and server versions of Windows 2000. With references to "the next generation" and "enterprise" permeating the dog and pony show, host Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame introduced a relatively dressed-up Gates, who along with all of the other male Microsoft employees that appeared on stage, was oddly outfitted in a sports coat. And the appearance of a tie on one Microsoft product manager underscored the message of the day: Windows 2000 is for businesses of all sizes. But it's only for businesses.
"Today we unveil the future of computing," Gates said. "Companies of all sizes are already deploying Windows 2000 for its scalability, reliability and performance. Windows 2000 represents a significant industry-wide effort. More than 1,000 partners, over $1 billion in engineering and more than 5,000 individuals rallied together to make this product the platform that companies can bet their businesses on. Windows 2000 truly begins the next generation of computing."
The keynote highlighted the basic scenarios in which corporations will evaluate Windows 2000. For business desktop and laptops, Windows 2000 Professional offers a compelling upgrade from Windows 9x or NT 4.0 Workstation.
"Windows 2000 Professional is the replacement for Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT Workstation 4.0 on all business desktops and laptops," said Gates.
For enterprises of all sizes, Microsoft offers various members of the Windows Server family, including Windows 2000 Server and Windows 2000 Advanced Server, which are immediately available, and Windows 2000 Datacenter Server, which will become available in June. Demonstrations at the keynote address included an amazing scalability proof-of-concept that featured 35 Dell servers handling the equivalent of over 1.6 billion hits per day. Microsoft unveiled 500 Dell client machines that were supplying the hits in a flourish reminiscent of, though far superior to, a similar demonstration last November at Fall Comdex.
There's no doubt that Windows 2000, which suffered through a monumental three-year development period, is the most important product the company has ever created. Gates admitted as much during the keynote, though he was quick to point out that Windows 2000 is, in many ways, just the beginning of the next generation of Windows.
"I think it's fair to say \[that Windows 2000 is\] the most ambitious software project ever done," he said. "Today we unveil the future of computing. Companies of all sizes are already deploying Windows 2000 for its scalability, reliability and performance. And I think there's no doubt that over the next couple of years all the business desktops will move to Windows 2000, whether that's upgrading the system in place or getting new hardware that's got Windows 2000 installed."
The keynote wrapped up with a live mini-concert featuring Carlos Santana and his band