Microsoft has changed its collective mind again about Zero Administration for Windows (ZAW) support in Windows 98, and now says that the feature won't make it into Windows 98. Problems with core ZAW components, such as IntelliMirror, are likely to cause massive delays. IntelliMirror will be included in the next beta release of NT 5.0, which is expected in early 1998. Even then, however, the beta release is expected to be barely functional.
With the loss of IntelliMirror and ZAW, Windows 98 will be a tougher sell in corporate markets, which require these administration capabilities. When IntelliMirror finally does ship for Windows 98--probably in late 1998 as a free download from the Microsoft Web site--it will only include a subset of the features expected in the NT version. Phil Holden, a product manager in Microsoft's Windows Platform Group says this will cause Windows 98 systems to be less manageable than NT 5 clients. On the other hand, Windows 98 is targeted primarily at home users with no need for such features.
The end result is confusion. Given the massive delays in Windows NT 5.0, Microsoft began touting Windows 98's prowess as a corporate client last month at Fall Comdex. Windows 98 is now expected to ship about 6 months before Windows NT 5.0, though that gap could widen if and when NT 5 slips again. Microsoft is looking at a bleak 1998 if Windows 98 isn't a runaway best-seller, but the company's ever-changing focus for the product isn't winning many friends in corporate circles