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Windows NT: Call me 2000

Microsoft gives its workstation and server OSes a new name, but no ship date.

October 29, 1998
Web posted at: 11:40 AM EDT

by Paul Heltzel

(IDG) -- SAN FRANCISCO -- Microsoft is giving its workstation and server operating systems a makeover, meant to bring the naming convention in line with its consumer OS and Office products. The company said Tuesday that the Windows NT 5 line will now be called Windows 2000. Despite the name change, the software is expected to be released in 1999, although it's still not clear when.

The move isn't surprising: The software maker has made it clear for some time that the consumer and workstation/server OSes would converge. Windows 98 should be the last we'll see of a DOS-based Windows operating system.

Brad Chase, Microsoft's vice president of marketing, announced the new name at a press conference here. He said the company plans to continue selling a consumer version of Windows. For example, Chase said a hypothetical Windows 2006 consumer version would be accompanied by Windows 2006 Professional (which would have been called "workstation" in the past). Future consumer versions, however, will use NT's underlying technology, according to Chase.

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So, will you be using NT Workstation -- er, 2000 Professional -- this time next year? Dwight Davis, an analyst at research firm Summit Strategies, doesn't think so. Unless you're an IS manager.

"If Windows 2000 reduces the monthly and yearly cost of ownership, the up-front sticker price won't be the key decision for corporations," Davis said. Corporate mobile users will particularly be interested in the robustness and security that Windows 2000 is supposed to deliver, he said. "But most consumers will continue to use Windows 98, and vendors will continue shipping PCs with Windows 98."

So, here's how the upcoming enterprise OS now breaks down:

  • Windows 2000 Professional: Microsoft will target this OS toward businesses, enthusiasts, and mobile users. The OS will require a base PC similar to the current requirements of NT 4, Chase said. For example, a desktop PC running 2000 Professional would likely be a Pentium Class processor (or better) with 64MB of RAM or more. Improvements for notebooks include Plug and Play support for peripherals, infrared support for data transfer, better power management, and the ability to synch data from other PCs.

  • Windows 2000 Server: The application formerly known as Windows NT Server 5.0. This version is meant for use in networking a workgroup, or as a Web server.

  • Windows 2000 Advanced Server: This high-end OS is meant for use in departments and for serving applications. Chase said there would not be any major price change on any of the products, but did say the Advanced Server should be sold for less than its predecessor, Windows NT Server 4.0 Enterprise.

Microsoft also announced a new server product, Windows 2000 Datacenter Server, for high-end use in areas such as science and engineering, enterprise databases, message servers, collaboration servers, and Web servers.

The other Windows 2000 products will ship together, Chase said, 60 to 90 days before the release of the Datacenter Server.

So close, and yet so far away.

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