Two weeks ago, I discussed an International Data Corporation (IDC) report about Windows 2000 deployment, a topic that has been scrutinized in the press, largely because of Microsoft's decision to withhold sales figures. But IDC said that both Win2K Server and desktop deployments are finally gaining ground and that Win2K shipments will vastly outnumber Windows NT 4.0 shipments this quarter. And by the end of 2001, Win2K will dominate Windows server and business desktop shipments. I asked Windows 2000 Magazine UPDATE readers about their Win2K deployments and, coincidentally, received the results of Windows 2000 Magazine's October reader survey, which held similar (and more scientific) data. I discuss the results of both surveys this week.
Windows 2000 Magazine UPDATE readers almost universally praised Win2K. Many noted that they had begun planning for the upgrade months before Win2K shipped because of the high quality of the Beta 3 and Release Candidate (RC) builds. Readers noted that Active Directory (AD) made management easier once it was up, running, and properly configured, and that because Win2K works with a wider array of hardware, they would never want to implement an NT 4.0 network again. Laptop and desktop users prefer Win2K to NT 4.0, and the Offline Folders and Hibernation features are a boon for mobile users. That Win2K never crashes and requires no (or at least fewer) reboots is a prime motivator as well: Win2K's stability is a major plus for most respondents. And Microsoft should be proud of the number of Win2K advocates out there: Most people who upgrade from NT 4.0 will never look back.
Of course, many people ran into some upgrade problems, although most complaints were minor. Win2K breaks compatibility with a number of products, especially older software, including many DOS applications. And many people noted that Win2K changes the location of tools; they wasted a lot of time simply trying to find old friends from their management toolboxes. Some people are still reluctant to switch their NT 4.0 domains to Win2K AD domains, for somewhat obvious reasons. AD is, in my mind, complex and unfriendly, and I think that customers who create new domains will like AD more than those who must upgrade NT 4.0 domains. Several people noted that Win2K Server upgrades were less good-natured than desktop upgrades. Win2K training is a thorny issue as well: As one reader noted, everyone related to support must be trained before any upgrade can occur. This preparation takes time and can be expensive.
As the IDC report suggested, Win2K Professional deployments were first, followed by Win2K Server. Server deployments are more complex and require a lot of planning, and many respondents noted that they wouldn't be running Win2K fully until late 2001 or early 2002. No one seemed particularly interested in being an early adopter, but many readers said that the positive news about Win2K deployments played a big part in getting their own rollouts moving. Also, the release of companion servers, especially Exchange 2000 Server and SQL Server 2000, often played a role in the decision to move to Win2K. A couple of respondents said that they would wait for Whistler to deploy Win2K Server but that the decision had more to do with the time frame than anything else.
One factor surprised me: Several readers noted that they had been unenthusiastic about upgrading until they saw what Win2K could do at a TechNet briefing or similar event. This response suggests that the biggest hurdle for many people is one of communication, which relates to a commentary I wrote back in September in which I noted that Microsoft had been de-emphasizing Win2K in favor of the company's future .NET technologies. I still believe that Microsoft needs to do a better job of communicating that Win2K is the core platform on which .NET—and therefore Microsoft's future—is built. A Win2K deployment today is a step toward .NET.
The Windows 2000 Magazine Reader Survey assesses whether the magazine content meets readers' needs. Win2K Server and Win2K Pro topped the "interesting topics" list (although NT 4.0 Server, at number 4, wasn't far behind), whereas NT 4.0 Workstation was the big loser this time around. But the figures for Win2K deployment should sound familiar. In April 2000, only 17 percent of respondents had upgraded to Win2K Pro, but that figure jumped to 39 percent in October. From what we can tell, Win2K Server deployments lag behind Win2K Pro: In April, 9 percent had upgraded to Win2K Server, but this figure rose to just 16 percent in October. The largest number of respondents, 34 percent, plans to upgrade to Win2K Server in the next year.