The year ahead

By Dave Kearns, Network World |  Operating Systems

In the last two newsletters we looked back at how Windows networking and Microsoft fared during the year 2000. In this newsletter we'll look ahead and try to anticipate what the big stories of 2001 will be.

The antitrust trial still looms as the biggest headline-grabber for 2001, as Microsoft and the Department of Justice take their case to the Court of Appeals, then on to the Supreme Court. Don't look for this case to be settled until 2002 at the earliest. Some people are saying that, if Microsoft prevails on the appeal, the Justice Department will drop the case. But remember that there are several states also involved in the suit, and they've vowed to continue with or without the Justice Department. So the case will go forward, and there'll be lots of ink spilled about it, but there won't be any resolution.

The other big news may (or may not) come towards the end of the year, with the anticipated launch of the next release of Windows. Code-named "Whistler," this is the version that should bring together the Windows 9x platform, which is currently represented by Windows Millennium Edition, and the Windows NT platform, which is currently represented by Windows 2000. If track record means anything, don't expect this operating system to ship before mid-2002. Next week we'll take a closer look at Whistler and its possible impact on your network.

Microsoft will continue to push its .Net strategy and continue to try to tie its applications to its directory service (Active Directory) to bolster sales of Windows 2000. And we'll finally see Windows 2000 become the predominant business version of Windows in the marketplace, as more and more Windows NT desktops and servers, and most Windows 9x desktops, are finally upgraded in the business marketplace.

On balance, then, it looks like a year of consolidation and tidying up, rather than one with any great new initiatives or innovations -- and maybe that's not such a bad thing.

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