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Computerworld

Win 2000: New code will demand most applications be rebuilt

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Microsoft trying to ease migration

February 19, 1999
Web posted at: 11:43 a.m. EST (1643 GMT)

by Sharon Gaudin

(IDG) -- The mostly new code in Windows 2000 makes it such a different beast than its NT 4.0 predecessor that corporate developers had better brace themselves: Most of their existing applications will have to be rebuilt, or at least revised, to make them compliant.

The issue isn't the stability of the current Windows 2000 beta. Even if the code in the final release of Windows 2000 is completely bug-free, many applications that run on NT 4.0 simply won't be able to use the new features, such as Active Directory or COM+, available in the upgraded operating system.

"Eighty percent of the code in Windows 2000 is new," said Daniel Kusnetzky, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass. "If that's not a new operating system, I'm not sure what is. With the Windows platform, each migration from one version to the next has been tough. This will be tougher."

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Of course, there also are bugs in the early release of the Windows 2000 Beta 3 code that are causing some application incompatibility problems.

"That doesn't surprise me, with 25 million lines of new code," said Jon Oltsik, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge. "That's what betas are for. Fixing them might further delay an already late piece of software.... The trade-off, though, is going to be if Windows 2000 is worth all the trouble of messing with all those applications."

New Features Are Problem

Karan Khanna, Microsoft's lead product manager for NT Server, explained that applications that run under NT 4.0 will run under Windows 2000 if they don't access the new features.

But if information technology managers want to take advantage of the reasons companies want to buy in to Windows 2000, such as public-key security and the new directory, then they will have to change those applications.

Khanna said Microsoft is trying to ease that workload by building some of the changes into the application programming interfaces (API) so developers can write to the APIs instead of building the coding into the applications.

But John Scannello, director of IT planning at Consolidated Edison of New York Inc., said he thinks his developers still have a lot of work ahead of them. "That will be a big negative," Scannello said. "The thought of rewriting applications is not something a large company wants to deal with. If it's one or two applications, that would be one thing. I don't know how we'll deal with something bigger."

Isaac Applbaum, senior vice president at Concord, Calif.-based Concorde Solutions, a subsidiary of Bank of America, said he will probably deal with it by devoting some developers to the task of bringing their custom applications into Windows 2000 compliance.

"It's going to be a bigger job than expected," he said. "I can tell you that we won't be an early adopter. When someone tells you there will be 80% new code, I can tell them we'll be on the careful side."


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