March 08, 2001, 4:46 PM — For those of you who watched my recent appearance on John Gallant's "Networked World," rest assured that I do not advocate replacing NetWare with Windows 2000.
On the other hand, sites whose networks are based on Windows NT servers (either 3.51 or 4.0) really need to upgrade to a directory-based system -- either Windows 2000 or NetWare 5. Windows NT systems are becoming marginalized -- new hardware and software either doesn't work with them, or works so poorly as to actually decrease productivity.
For that reason, you really need to be moving towards Windows 2000 Professional on your users' desktops. Windows 95, 98 and Millennium Edition are simply not cut out to be robust, business-class computer operating systems. Windows 2000 Pro, though, is the most robust, most stable graphical operating system that's ever come out of Redmond, Wash. That's the good news. The better news is that Novell and Microsoft collaborated on the NetWare client for Windows 2000 - making it the most robust and stable client Novell's released in quite some time.
A more delicate situation involves Windows 2000 servers: Do they belong on a NetWare network? My answer is, "yes" -- provided you need an application that only runs on a Windows platform, such as Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server or Internet Information Server. While its true there are alternatives to these apps that run on NetWare (and, certainly, I'd advise you to look at the new Apache Web server for NetWare), not everyone is ready to use GroupWise (some of us positively refuse to) or the now nonsupported Oracle server for NetWare.
So, if you haven't already started to migrate to Windows 2000 Professional as your desktop operating system, you should begin to plan to do so. You should also consider Windows 2000 servers where the application makes sense. Then watch for Novell to release eDirectory account management for Windows 2000 so that your entire network is controlled through Novell's superior directory service.