It's a Windows World at Spring Comdex

Microsoft Corporation opened Spring Comdex/World of Windows 2000 in Chicago this week with news that will surprise absolutely no one: Microsoft's family of Windows operating systems completely dominates the market and will likely continue doing so. The message, which was wrapped under the moniker "Windows momentum," is that the Windows market is not only alive and healthy, but also prepped for the future. It's a message that should be obvious to anyone wandering the halls of the trade show, and a curious one to deliver in the wake of the company's guilty verdict in its antitrust trial. But some of the information Microsoft provided was interesting nonetheless, including the news that the company has licensed over 1.5 million copies of Windows 2000 since its release two months ago. This represents an adoption rate that is four times higher than Windows NT 4.0 during the same period of time, relative to each product's launch. And Windows 2000, despite its mass adoption, has resulted in the lowest number of support calls per unit sold in the history of Windows. It's clear, Microsoft says, that the future of Windows is bright.

"To attend an industry trade show such as Windows World/Comdex and see the degree of innovation that the Windows platform has spurred is overwhelming," said Platform Group vice president Tod Nielsen. "Windows scales from handheld devices to enterprise data centers and meets the needs of all customers in between, and over 65 vendors are here highlighting the incredible openness of the Windows platform with their own unique, best-of-breed solutions."

Some other notable Windows news nuggets: Windows 2000 is now in service on more than 64,000 live Web sites, surpassing AIX, HP-UX, the Mac OS, and Netware. And a third party vendor, Stratus Computer Systems Corporation, is now offering Windows 2000 Server and Advanced Server systems with 99.999% uptime, which guarantees less than 5 minutes of downtime in a calendar year. The system offers this same reliability in a package that costs 80% less than the company's previous offering.

Looking to the future, Nielsen discussed Windows DNA 2000, Microsoft's platform for distributed computing and its take on Business-to-Business (B2B) collaboration, which is expected to be the next major growth spurt for the Internet. And some Windows ME features were demonstrated, including System Restore, the Home Networking Wizard, and Media Player 7.

Speaking of Windows ME, Nielsen's Windows World keynote isn't the first time in recent days that representatives of Microsoft have made public statements that have flown in the face of the government attempting to bottleneck its industry power. Last week, at a Microsoft eXtreme event, the company showed off Windows ME, the next version of Windows for consumers, which bundles a variety of applications, including Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player 7, and Windows Movie Maker, that shut third party vendors out of the Windows market. During a demonstration of Windows ME, Microsoft demonstrated how the new consumer OS doesn't require any third party support to work with digital cameras, manipulate images, or send them across the Internet to friends and family.

"We should definitely note that we didn't require any third party applications there and we didn't have to install any separate drivers. That was just all part of Windows ME," said Windows ME program manager Chris Lye. He then gleefully explained the "pervasive" use of Internet links in the new product. "The Internet begins to permeate almost every feature in Windows ME."

As the government works to complete its proposed remedies in the Microsoft antitrust case, it is somewhat surprising to see Microsoft maintain such a high profile in those areas that have gotten it into trouble in the past. While the massive lawsuit seems to be frozen in time--it deals primarily with Windows 98, not Windows 2000 or Windows ME--the company has continued bundling other applications with its monopoly products and integrating hooks to the Internet. And though the integration of digital media and Internet products into Windows ME has never been discussed in the antitrust case, it will be interesting to see whether their very existence is later threatened by a future ruling

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