Microsoft: Don't stop Windows 2000 rollouts to wait for XP

By Carol Sliwa, Computerworld |  Software

Microsoft Corp. today announced plans to release its promised Windows XP desktop operating system to users in October. But companies that are already in the process of rolling out Windows 2000 shouldn't worry about doing an immediate upgrade to the XP version, according to Microsoft officials.

Jim Allchin, group vice president for operating system platforms at the software vendor, said during a teleconference today that he wouldn't suggest the tabling of Windows 2000 desktop projects in order to wait for the shipment of Windows XP, which will be released in different versions for business and home users.

Companies could move to the new operating system later if they're "in the middle of a [Windows 2000 installation] when Windows XP is launched," Allchin said. "But if they've already rolled out Windows 2000, I think they've got a great system there."

However, Allchin did urge corporate users who still have earlier releases than Windows 2000 on their PCs to upgrade to either that release or Windows XP as soon as possible. "If somebody is on Windows 95 or 98, they need to get off of it," he said.

Mike Silver, an analyst at Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn., said companies that don't plan to install the desktop version of Windows 2000 until next year might want to go directly to Windows XP instead.

"If they're in the midst of planning to bring in new machines later this year with Windows 2000, we say, 'Go ahead,'" Silver said. "If they haven't started planning [by] the third or fourth quarter of this year, then they have to consider whether they should wait for XP."

Many corporate users usually bypass the initial version of a new Windows release and wait for Microsoft's first Service Pack update, which addresses any bugs or other problems. But Silver said that shouldn't be a concern with XP. "We don't consider XP the first version," he said. "We consider it basically as a Service Pack with a few new features [added] to Windows 2000."

Microsoft initially played up the consumer features of Windows XP, but it also began aiming the upcoming operating system at corporate users when a second beta-test release became available in late March. Planned Windows XP features geared to businesses include a "compatibility mode" that lets applications designed for earlier versions of Windows run on XP and a "zero configuration" tool, which lets wireless users gain automatic access to other networks.

Allchin today said a few corporate users have told him there are features due to be included in Windows XP that they "just have to have." For example, he pointed to a remote assistance feature that will let IT staffers view and control the screen of mobile users they're trying to help.

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